Early Childhood and National Development: A Case for Toys, Libraries and Playgrounds

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Augustine Togonu-Bickersteth-Writer

I have read about free school meals being proposed by The Federal Government of Nigeria and I would therefore like to make some comments.

Liberian Soccer star George Weah in a message to the World Food Summit then in Rome was to Say ”More Food in Africa would lead to better football in Europe.” More food would lead to not only “better Football” but also better Literature, better Mathematics, better Engineering and better Medicine because when African Children are well fed not only their bones are well developed for physical activity like sports but their brains are also well formed for academic pursuits.
When the Americans realized that they had been beaten in the Space race by the Russians with the launching of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, then in 1957 they began to take early Childhood Ideas seriously.
We have been out-paced in many races by smaller African countries . Is it not time we began to take early childhood ideas seriously?
Besides free meals for Nigerian Children I would also like to propose, playgrounds, toys and libraries for children as it has been variously put forward by the Adetoun Ogunseye and Biola Odejide led International Board of Books for Young, Nigeria Chapter and and the Mabel Segun founded Children’s Literature Association of Nigeria.
On Play grounds, my Physics Teacher in The Secondary School, Sola Ayangbayi, then at Loyola College Ibadan, used to say: ”If you did not attend a nursery school you could not hope to understand Physics”. This was an an important point he was making. What you find in a playground in nursery school including the Swings, See-Saws Merry Go Rounds, Slides, Rocking Horses and Rocking boats help to develop cognitive function and can be be used to illustrate salient aspects of the foundation discipline of Physics known as Classical mechanics. Classical Mechanics is in a large part about Objects in Motion and it was Isaac Newton who said “Ignorant of Motion: Ignorant of Nature” Infact , I later on saw a documentary produced by the Germans under the title, PHYSICS OF THE PLAY GROUND” It should be noted here that the Germans gave us the word KINDERGARTEN meaning” Children’s Garden” So far no Nigerian President has passed through Kindergarten . They all started from primary school. Maybe Kindergarten should be made compulsory. in Nigeria.
One had to learn German in other to study Physics in its Lingua Franca. It was the German Rocket
Rocket Scientists, led by Wernher Von Braun who helped to land the Americans on the Moon with the Apollo program in 1969. Gottingen in Germany used to be the Mecca of Mathematicians and the German soccer team is known as the “German Machine” because of the prowess of the Germans in designing Machines.
According to Professor Segun Sowunmi, a Mathematician , now late and then Nigeria’s leading exponent of creative thinking, Nigerian Children should be provided with toys, that help them to think in three dimensions.; toys that help cognitive function; this ability to think in three dimensions comes very useful in solving certain Mathematics and Engineering problems like in the design of machines for instance. It was Obafemi Awolowo who said ”One of the badges of poverty is the inability of men to invent and maintain machines”. The Europeans do not grow Cassava but Europeans export Cassava processing machines to Nigeria and as the Engineer and Ex President Olusegun had observed, the Japanese do not eat Pounded Yam but at one time they were exporting pounded Yam Machines to Nigeria. The International Toy Libraries Association(ITLA) also asserts that : “play, playthings and playful interaction are essential to optimal educational, physical, psychological, social and cultural development and well-being.”
As regards Literature for children , a study carried out in the United States showed there is a correlation between the achievement imagery in Children”s books and the quantity of Steel and Electricity produced in the U.S. over a given period. We need books with a Nigerian cum African flavor. Books that would fire the imagination of Nigerian Children .It was Albert Einstein, Physicist and the greatest scientist of the 20th century who said” Imagination is a lot better than Knowledge”
With all that I have stated I hope the Early Childhood experts, Chid Right Advocates, Nutritionists, Educationists and Scientists would step forward so that these Nigerian children would grow up not only to win the World Cup but also to win Nobel prizes and land Nigerian Space crafts on planets and Comets

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in Nigeria

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Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, yesterday, arrived Nigeria unannounced. The 32-year-old tech enterpreneur surprisingly made a sudden visit and inspection of activities at the Co-Creation Hub, Yaba Lagos.

His arrival to Nigeria is not unconnected to the ‘Facebook for developers’ workshop’ for Nigerian engineers, product managers and partners holding today in Lagos.

The event is expected to help the engineers build better applications and monetise them more effectively.

Before his arrival, it was earlier announced that the company’s Director of Global product Partnerships, Nigeria’s Ime Archibong was to lead speakers to the event where Facebook would unveil a ten-year roadmap that can help improve Nigeria’s economy.

Facebook is an online social networking service based in Menlo Park, California, United States, which Zuckerberg and his fellow Harvard College students and roommates, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes formed on February 4, 2004.

After its initial public offering, IPO in February 2012, Facebook began selling stock to the public three months later, reaching an original peak market capitalization of $104 billion. On July 13, 2015, it became the fastest company in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to reach a market cap of $250 billion.

As of March this year, Facebook had hit over 1.65 billion monthly active users out of which 7.1 million people are daily users from Nigeria. This makes the country Africa’s biggest user of the social media platform.

However, Vanguard gathered that it was for security reasons that Zuckerberg’s plan to visit Nigeria and his eventual arrival was kept top secret.

A close source who spoke to Vanguard said: “It was a top secret and nobody was meant to know before his arrival. It was actually for security reasons but now that he is here, he would be able to interact with tech professionals and other Nigerians today in a press conference at Eko Hotel and Suites tomorrow (today).”

Being his first trip to Africa, Zuckerberg on arrival met with developers and partners, and also explored Nollywood.

One of his first stops on the trip was to visit a ‘Summer of Code Camp’ at the Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) in Yaba, known as the Silicon Valley of Nigeria where young developers learn how to code and develop their solutions while looking for mentors and angel investors.

At CcHub, Zuckerberg met with developers like Temi Giwa, who runs a platform called Life Bank that makes blood available when and where it is needed in Nigeria. Life Bank saves lives by mobilizing blood donations, taking inventory of all blood available in the country, and delivering blood in the right condition to where it is needed.

Thrilled by level of technology development at the CcHub, Mark Zuckerberg, said, “This is my first trip to sub-Saharan Africa. I’ll be meeting with developers and entrepreneurs, and learning about the startup ecosystem in Nigeria. The energy here is amazing and I’m excited to learn as much as I can.

“The first place I got to visit was the Co-creation Hub Nigeria (CcHUB) in Yaba. I got to talk to kids at a summer coding camp and entrepreneurs who come to CcHub to build and launch their apps. I’m looking forward to meeting more people in Nigeria.”

Source: Vanguard