Nigeria’s Vice President, Architect Namadi Sambo, former World Bank Vice President for Africa Affairs, Dr Oby Ezekwesili are among dignitaries expected at the two day national conference on kindergarten education which opens in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Thursday.
Also expected at the event include World Back Country Director and the Hon. Minister for Education, Prof. Rukkayatu Rufai who is billed to deliver the keynote address.
The National Conference on Kindergarten education is an annual forum instituted by a non governmental organization, the Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI) three years ago to promote the development of early childhood care development and education in Nigeria.
The theme for the 2012 Conference is “Legislation and Implementation of Kindergarten Education in Nigeria: Issues and Challenges”.
In a statement issued by the Administrator of the NGO, Mr Nowa Omorogbe and signed by the Media Assistant Dike Bekwele said the objective of the conference is to institute continuous advocacy on early child education in Nigeria with a view to implementing relevant legislations including the Revised National Policy on Education 2004 and the Universal Basic Education Act of 2004.
The 2-day conference will also commemorate 4thanniversary of the NGO which was founded on the 16th of October, 2008. The NGO will also graduate 745 graduands in the third batch of its early child nursery education programme.
ESI with a student enrolment of over 4,000 with 2,455 girls representing 59 per cent and 1,725 boys representing 41 per cent, has graduated 1,833 pupils in its programme.
Though it began its nursery schools in temporary structure, it has established over 84 structured since inception in over 74 communities across 9 local government areas of Rivers State, while it has established 20 permanent school learning facilities across the state.
The event which begins on the 24th of October at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt will witnessed children’s Parliament among other activities.
“We are about to send to the State Assembly a bill that says it is a crime not to send your children to school… The reason is when you say education is free and compulsory, parents don’t take it seriously until you say they will go to jail if they don't send their children and wards to school."
“We would not collect fees so it becomes criminal if you don’t send your children to school. From next year we would criminalize those who don’t take their children or wards to school because we will try everything possible to ensure that we provide infrastructure and facilities that will back our free education”, he promised.
Governor Amaechi further said his administration would set up an Agency for Quality Assurance to ensure primary and secondary schools in the state would meet expected standards.
“Let me tell you the things that will happen very soon. Those of you who are in government schools that are not up to standard we are trying to raise our government schools to the standard that we require… When we get to that standard, we will in the next few months set up the Agency for Quality Assurance. If you don’t meet the standard, whether you are government school or private school you will be closed down”.
“All primary schools must have Information Communication Technology (ICT) including the ones that belong to the Rivers State Government. We believe that the same thing should apply to the secondary schools”.
Governor Amaechi later at the event presented certificate prizes to top three winners of the essay competition for the Garden City Literary Festival.