Problems of Early Childhood Education in Africa

The problems of Early Childhood Education in Africa are myriad. Many of these problems range from the ones with which teachers are bestruck to the many laxities on the side of the government and the society at large. Early Childhood Education (ECE also Nursery Education) is a branch of education theory which relates to the teaching of young children (formally and informally) up until the age of about eight.

In recent years, early childhood education has become a prevalent global issue, as many countries have come to realize the importance of educating their citizens from the earliest age possible. Early Childhood Education is more than a preparatory stage assisting the childs transition to formal schooling. 

It places emphasis on developing the whole child attending to his or her social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs to establish a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing and it is during this period that a child goes through the most rapid phase of growth and development: Their brains develop faster than at any other point in their lives, so these years are critical. The foundations for their social skills, self-esteem, perception of the world and moral outlook are also established during these years, as well as the development of cognitive skills.

Several studies have been made to look into the manifold problems of Early Childhood Education in Africa. Among these are inadequate trained teachers and care givers, high fees, overcrowded classes and low motivation for teachers and care givers were among the top challenges revealed from these studies.

The do not however come with the most negative effect on the effectiveness of Early childhood Education in Africa. It is therefore recommended that the government should make funding of Early Childhood Education in this continent a priority, that is, more Early Childhood Education Centers should be built and more teachers and care givers trained professionally.


Early years in life are widely accepted as the most important period during which children experience cognitive, language, perceptual, socio-emotional and motor development which they will need for future achievements and social functioning. This informs the reason why the periods of the early years need to be handled with all special and detailed attention.
Early years are therefore remarkable periods of growth and development in the lives of children. Over the years there has been a lot of intervention by different governments but despite all these interventions and the efforts of the government, it is evident that the implementation of Early Childhood Education programmes is still affected by many challenges.

Problems of Early Childhood Education in Africa

Without much talk about nothing, what you should get below are the problems of Early Childhood Education in Africa as are possibly capable of running any nation or society aground if due care is not taken to nip them in bud before they spread their wings:

Workplace Stress

One of the leading problems facing early childhood education is an escalating rate of teacher burnout. According to a 2022 poll, nearly half of all preschool teachers admitted to experiencing high levels of stress and burnout over the past few years.

While some of that stress is inherent to the job, most of the additional burnout has come from a severe staffing shortage affecting centers and programs across the country. Since early 2020, 8.4% of the childcare workforce has left for other professions — which is especially worrying considering many centers were experiencing staffing problems before the pandemic.

As a result, the teachers that stayed are dealing with longer hours, larger classrooms, and in some cases, new, mixed-age teaching environments.

For those educators lucky enough to find themselves at fully staffed centers, there are still a number of new stressors brought about by COVID-19, including new safety measures, check-in protocols, and more.

Mental Health Concerns (Depression)

 Though mental health has always been one of the prominent issues in early childhood education, COVID-19 has truly brought it to the forefront. In Nigeria alone, depression among preschool teachers has risen by 35% since the start of the pandemic.

While this would be troubling for any profession, it’s especially hard for teachers as their mood can directly impact their student’s ability to learn and comprehend the material. Funding issues in early childhood education can also lead to a lack of resources for teachers who want to seek help.

Lack of Resources

Read Also: How to Practice Early Childhood Education

Funding issues in early childhood education are another hurdle many teachers face. According to a recent study conducted by interested professionals in Africa, Africa is underfunding public schools by nearly $48 billion annually.

As a result, many childcare providers have to dip into their own pockets to make up for the small classroom budgets they’re given — something that’s especially challenging given most teachers are already underpaid.

Low Emoluments

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, early childhood educators earn an average annual wage of $30,210 in the United States (with the lowest 10% making just $21,900 per year). It is the same issue hampering advancement in Africa. When compared to the average public school teacher’s salary of $65,090, it’s no surprise that compensation is among the top problems facing early childhood education.

Because the average salary for the profession is so low, most educators are forced to take on a second job or rely on public income support programs to make ends meet. These can significantly add to a teacher’s burnout and can cause stress that spills over into their personal life.

Heightened Security Issues

Another one of the problems of early childhood education in Africa is safety. Since the start of 2022, there have been more than 300 mass shootings — equating to roughly four per week. While not all of these shootings have taken place at schools, enough have left teachers worried about their workplace safety.

In addition to worrying about their own safety while at work, early childhood educators also often have to worry about the safety of their students. Because children attending childcare programs can range anywhere from just a few months to six years of age, there are a number of physical and environmental dangers present at any given time. Therefore, teachers have to constantly be on guard, something that can lead to increased levels of stress and fatigue.

Technological Evolutions

When COVID-19 hit, schools across the country raced to adopt virtual learning environments that allowed their students to connect and engage without having to attend in-person sessions. While it proved to be an effective way to limit the spread of coronavirus, it didn’t come without its own share of challenges.

For some families, a lack of access to technology meant they were no longer able to receive the instruction they needed. For others, not being able to have one-on-one time with educators led to a decline in learning. Finally, despite the best attempts from schools and video conferencing providers, teachers and students still fell victim to technology issues, including lack of connectivity, dropped calls, and more.

As the pandemic waned and in-person learning resumed, many schools opted to keep hybrid learning as an option for their students. Despite the added convenience this affords some families, it has also greatly contributed to one of the top issues in early childhood education: technology.

As technology changes in the classroom, teachers must race to keep up with it. The same goes for the technology students interact with. Teachers today have to decide how to incorporate technology into their classrooms, what screen time limits to set for their students and how to navigate a digital landscape that’s different every year.

Lack of Parent Engagement and Communication

As any teacher can attest to, trying to build an engaged and communicative parent base is another one of the prominent problems of early childhood education in Africa. Unlike other professions, teachers have to deal with the 20+ personalities in their classroom, as well as the 40+ personalities of those students’ guardians. Not to mention the frustration that can result from parents who are never present — or those who are overly present.

Plus, funding issues in early childhood education can often hamper parent-teacher communication. For example, some programs might not have the funds available to provide teachers with software that allows them to quickly send email blasts to all families. As a result, educators may find themselves having to send important updates via email one family at a time.

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