Don advocates early childcare, learning



Professor of Medicine, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Foluso Afolabi Lesi, has said that early childhood education is the linchpin for national advancement.

Delivering his inaugural lecture titled, “The Quest for the Smart Child: Its Role in Nation Building,” Lesi gave a vivid description of the challenges facing the Nigerian child after surviving the unacceptably high infant and under five mortality, and how this impacts on the development of the country.

He said economies that have achieved much have done so because of the realisation of the importance of early child education.

Lesi who is a specialist in Neuro-Developmental Paediatrics, said pre-school and nursery education should be promoted in the country particularly in the rural areas, while education provided should be culturally relevant focusing on quality, innovation and delivered in the local languages.

He appealed to government to enforce a policy that would carry everyone along to ensure that “children eat right, play normally, read widely, ask questions and interact inclusively to optimally stimulate their brains and contribute their own quota to national development.”

“If we agree that the brain is where thoughts, conceptualisation and innovation take place, then it is in our strategic interest to promote and protect what is best for the brains of our children,” he added.

Highlighting that diseases like malaria, malnutrition, cerebral palsy, autism, among others, are capable of damaging a child’s brain, he counselled parents and caregivers to take good care of children as “a child who misses school for whatever reason will not be smart as the one who diligently attends school.”

However, in a poetic approach, he advised, “Nigerian women, eat right, breastfeed babies as a right, fortify children for the fight, special children need careful thought as they battle the stigmas that blight.”

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