|Early Child Development: Investing in the Future (WB)|
|Part II. The practice|
|Educating through the mass media|
With too little money to provide traditional preschool classrooms for all of its young children, Nigeria, assisted by the World Bank, is turning to educational television as a way to reach millions at relatively little cost.
Although Nigeria's national education policy seeks to improve educational opportunities for very young children, the country cannot afford to fund a traditional program for all of its 13 million preschoolers. The Nigeria Development Communications Project therefore proposes using the mass media-and the Sesame Street model-to teach children aged three to six and instruct their caregivers in active learning techniques.
The five-year pilot project will design, produce, disseminate, and evaluate mass media instructional materials for preschoolers and their mothers. To accomplish this, it will support the development of institutions to produce educational television materials and train television managers and evaluators. Its goal is to reach 4 million preschoolers, 36 percent of whom already have access to television. To broaden access, fifteen local government authorities in ten states have agreed to supply additional televisions for child care centers, and televisions will also be bought with the project and grant funding.
The instructional videos will not only be transmitted over the national network; they can also be shown from "video on wheels" vehicles and at local viewing centers. The newly established educational television unit of the Nigerian Television Authority plans to produce 130 episodes for preschool children, designed to develop their language expression and comprehension skills, their ability to observe and to solve problems, and their prenumeracy, preliteracy, and social skills. The shows will also convey basic health and hygiene information to parents.
In addition to the videos for children and parents, the project will prepare four to six videos for preschool organizers, facilitators, and trainers to show them how to identify children's basic needs, how best to organize available space, how to monitor children's health, how to create an environment for learning and for stimulating children's play, thinking, and expression, and how to make sure children are getting affection and good nutrition. Other videos will show parents how to observe the effects of children's interaction with adults and what children learn from such interaction.
The five-year pilot project, whose total cost is estimated at US$10.23 million, will be supported by an IDA credit of US$8.03 million, a Nigerian Television Authority grant of US$1.71 million, and a combined UNICEF and Bernard van Leer Foundation grant of US$490,000.
The Nigeria Development Communications Project will establish a new, collaborative way to produce educational videos in developing countries. Training sessions for this enterprise will include not only TV producers and scriptwriters, but also sociologists and early child development specialists. To evaluate the project's impact, baseline data on educational and social indicators are already being collected on children and adults in the targeted areas, and changes in these indicators will be monitored throughout the project.
If the Nigerian venture works, it could introduce an inexpensive and highly effective method for improving conditions for young children. As Sesame Street has shown in the United States, nothing is more powerful than TV for getting out the education message.