• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Career mothers struggle with babies’ preschool, work

Career mothers struggle with babies’ preschool, work

Olushola Olukayode found herself in a deep dilemma, with tears in her eyes; she narrated how difficult it was for her to cope with nursing her baby and meeting her new job’s demands.

The coming of her first baby sprung a mixed feeling for her and her spouse. She got a new job in July 2015, a year after the arrival of her first child, the new development induced joy, sadness, and a huge amount of confusion for her and the family.

A joy for a new job, which was an added source of income for the struggling family, but sadness for the inherent challenge of not knowing how to go about the baby’s care and the job demands.

Amid the confusion of coping with a financially struggling home and a new baby, she opted to resume the new job without knowing what to do with her baby.

Many of her neighbours counselled her not to resume in her new office with the baby which she consented to, and decided to leave the baby with a neighbour.

The helpless new baby cried her eyes out that day, which led to her falling sick, in the face of this ugly development, her husband, demanded that she quit the job.

But for financial reasons, the man changed his mind and decided to allow her to go and negotiate with her manager since they lacked the economic capacity to put the child in a preschool.

Olushola’s case is one of the millions of Nigerian career mothers stuck in the twist of work and challenges of taking care of their toddlers with office duties; as fresh concerns have emerged concerning the number of working mothers keeps surging yearly, and leaving many with little or no time for their babies.

Many of these women argued that they have to work to support the family income, gain financial independence and ease potential suffering in an economy with one of the world’s highest inflation rates.

According to Statista report, “In 2023, while the employed male population in Nigeria was estimated at almost 40 million employees, female employees were projected to be slightly lower, at around 31.3 million.

Most of these women fall within the nursing mothers’ category, and in the face of the economic crunch are not always able to give their children the necessary education foundation.

Elizabeth Ohaka, an early childhood educationist reacting to this ugly development said the imperativeness of early childhood learning in the academic journey of every child cannot be overemphasised.

“The early childhood education is given to children between 1-8 years old. It is very helpful in terms of language, social skills, emotional and mental development,” she said.

However, she decried the fact that many families, especially the disadvantaged ones, are not able to benefit from this as a result of the inadequate provision, hence, she called for the government’s intervention.

“The government can help by educating families about some activities that can help a child develop these traits early in life through television outreach and other channels. This way, parents can become the teachers of their children.

“Besides, the government should compulsorily increase the budget of early child education from one to two years,” she said.

Experts argue that preschool provides a structured environment for children to interact with their peers.

They maintained that preschool teaches children how to share, take turns, resolve conflicts, and work together. These social skills, they say are essential for a child’s emotional and social development.

Most preschools and kindergartens are privately owned, but they must register with the government and follow federal guidelines.

They are normally very expensive, so only the wealthy can afford to send their children to preschools and kindergartens.

The federal government initiated an Early Childhood Care Development Education (ECCDE) programme in the early 1990s, but rapid changes in political events prevented it from making progress.

In 1991, only 4.7 percent of preschool children had some pre-primary education. The programme called for community-based childcare.

In 2001, as support for the UBE programme, some communities began building their own nursery and preschool facilities with federal money and international grants and loans.

However, within a space of time, the project fizzled out, giving room for private operators to dominate this cadre of the education sector, and has led to skyrocketing costs which hinders many from benefitting from the noble concept.

Bearing in mind that pre-primary education is the ultimate foundation stone needed by every child to smoothly transition to the formal school system at the primary level.

It becomes imperative that the government step in to ameliorate the cost and ensure quality education is given to toddlers because any faulty foundation laid at this level will naturally affect other levels.