ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of science and technology in the pre-primary level of education in Uyo Local Government Area. To this end, the work provided the background to the study through the detailed introduction offered in chapter one. Relevant terms were defined and the purpose and significance of the study were stated. Four research questions and null hypotheses were formulated respectively to guide the study. A detailed literature review was obtained from published and unpublished books, journals and newspapers etc. Its review was aimed at developing appreciation on the previous study done in this area or related areas.
A survey research design was adopted for the study, a sample size of 100 pre-primary school teachers drawn from twenty public primary schools in the study area were randomly selected for the study. A questionnaire was used in collecting data, and the data collected were subjected to statistical analysis using Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient (PPMC). The result of the analysis revealed a significant relationship between science and technology and pupils’ academic performance in pre-primary schools in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The Impact of Science and Technology in the Pre-Primary Level of Education
1.1 Background to the Study
Due to the rapid developments in science and technology, children today grow up in technology. Technological developments influence the structure of education, teaching-learning environments and learning process. In order to adapt to developing technology, benefit from opportunities technology provided for people, and catch up with technological changes, there need to use technology in every stage and area of education. The use of technology is very important to improve the quality of education and support the children’s developmental areas in pre-school education as well as in every stage of education.
Pre-primary education is considered to be the period from birth to eight years (Worthman, 2019). In the developing nations, pre-primary is defined as the ages between birth to six years (Eville and Mbugua,2011). Regardless of the differing definitions of pre-primary, UNICEF (2012), postulates that the increased interest in pre-primary education is encouraging especially when new technologies are embraced in the sector. Gulbahar (2007) asserts that huge educational investment has produced little evidence of science and technology integration and use in acquisition of literacy skills in pre-primary schools.
Early childhood education is based on a holistic approach to education, with care, socialising and learning at the heart of programmes (Ministry of Education, 2017; Skolverket, 2010). Sweden’s early childhood curriculum document outlines that curiosity and initiative are to be encouraged and developed and that children be given opportunities to engage with and develop cultural heritage values, traditions, language and knowledge, to be reflective and to work collaboratively – all critical components in technology practice. It also encourages exploration of the surrounding world (Skolverket, 2010). Technology is very evident within both the New Zealand (Mawson, 2011) and Swedish early childhood curriculum documents, illustrated through the following quote from the Swedish early childhood curriculum.
Creating and communicating through different means of expression such as pictures…provide both the contents and methods to be used by the preschool in promoting the development and learning of the child. This also involves building, designing and using various materials and technologies…Preschool should provide scope for the child’s own plans, imagination and creativity in play and learning, both indoors and outdoors. [Skolverket, 2010]
The rapid expansion of technology into the worlds of young people has created a new generation which can use computers, mobile devices and other digital technologies as easy as winking. Nevertheless, in the context of early childhood settings there are some influences that may differentiate the technology use behaviors of preschool children which are generally constructed at home or school environment.
Technology use is becoming increasingly prominent in both K-12 settings and the workplace. Early childhood education is often a time for preparing students with the basic skills they need for K-12 education, so digital literacy may be another area in which early childhood education could help prepare young children. When we talk about technology in education, we mean the tools or machine in the classrooms. Like computers, tablets, printers and music system and all. In preschool classroom technology can take many forms. Young children enjoy to listening songs, books and stories. When a teacher is not available to read with a student, they can listen on a digital player, like compact disk player or electronic device such as iPod.
Still, not everyone agrees that technology should be in early childhood education. Debates about the role of technology in early childhood education are ongoing, with some providers, parents, and others yet to be convinced about the potential benefits of technology.
Nowadays, children are fascinated to play with technology and electronic media devices like smart phones, internet connected TVs, video games, high speed internet etc. Children have propensity to be more active consumer of technology and many electronic digital products are intend to the youth market. This is also very true that parents & youngsters use devices and gadgets to keep their children quiet busy and engaged for a long period of time so that they can be free and do their work.
According to Julie Lewis, The researchers are clear that if children spend too much time watching electronic screens in their early age then the adverse effect can be seen. Parents should know about correct and appropriate use of media technology which is useful for their children as well as the time limit related to screen timings spend by child on daily basis. Interior Health suggests a time limit according to the age range, regarding how much time children should be using technology; from 0 to two years of age: (None), Children from three to five years of age: (1 hour per day), Children from six to twelve years of age: ( 2 hours per day)
If we see the teaching approach or teaching styles, it is very true that there is a unorganized connection between what is taught and what actually happens in the outside world or real world or society, so in order to catch up with the real world to the schools and early childhood centers they need to incorporate with advanced technology in their curriculum. Since media devices are taking used in life style, it is very important to include or integrate technology into learning environment. The quality of experiences encountered by young children during this period has immense and vast impacts on their personal growth and development and also their learning abilities.
Typically specific subject areas are not taught in early childhood education in New Zealand and Sweden (Mawson, 2011; Sundqvist & Nilsson, 2016). However Sundqvist and Nilsson (2016) state that the revised 2010 edition of the Swedish preschool curriculum puts greater emphasis on children’s learning mathematics, science and technology. Goals from this curriculum identify that children must be given opportunities to explore how simple technologies work and develop an ability to identify everyday technology, as well as an ability to build, create and construct using different techniques, materials and tools (Skolverket, 2010).
However many early childhood teachers are unsure what to teach in technology (Sundqvist & Nilsson, 2016). Investigation into a number of early childhood curricula from these countries – England, Sweden and New Zealand (Department of Education, 2014; Ministry of Education, 2017; Skolverket, 2010) – suggest a number of common aspects related to the teaching of technology within ECE settings. These are that children have opportunities to explore the made-world, communicate ideas about the made-world, engage independently in and with technology and contribute to the made-world through making and construction in a range of areas.
Tay, (2011) states that Information and Communication Technology refers to the process of gathering, accessing and disseminating data for an enhanced learning (Tubbs, 2013). Acquisition of literacy skills has also been made simple through the application of electronic media and internet among others. The abbreviations ICT integration refer to a range of learning environments from a stand-alone computer in a classroom to a situation where the teaching is done by the computer through pre-packaged teacher-proof courseware.
Tubbs, (2013) states that the production and introduction of calculators and computers in the acquisition of literacy skills system worldwide has helped in simplifying teaching in preprimary education centers which has resulted in the promotion of national stability and economic survival. Some of the benefits of ICT include; increasing access to remote learning resources which would be difficult when solely relying on printed books, promoting collaborative learning, provoking pre-primary learners’ curiosity by use of videos, television and multimedia computer software that combine the power of text, sound, colorful moving images and ensuring pre-primary learner-centered literacy skills learning (Tubbs, 2013).
Integration of ICT in acquisition of literacy skills has been a debatable issue bearing in mind that both developing and developed countries are bringing about acquisition of literacy skills reform with a clear focus on ICT integration in acquisition of literacy skills. Countries have been investing heavily in ICT in terms of money, expertise, resources and research to integrate technology in acquisition of literacy skills as smoothly as possible so that the classroom environment is made more conducive for enhanced acquisition of literacy skills.Forsyth (2012), asserts that the European Union (EU) promoted a strategic framework to improve the overall quality of life and to meet the challenges of globalization, ageing and ICT revolution.
The success of the strategy was made a reality by the integration of ICT in acquisition of literacy skills, since acquisition of literacy skills prepared future citizens to learn and use ICT in their day to day activities of life. An investigation by Forsyth (2012), explains that science teachers’ perspective about ICT integration in acquisition of literacy skills in Pre-primary institutions has been emulated in the Science area.
This has influenced the science teachers to have a positive attitude toward integration of ICT in the acquisition of literacy skills process. Majorityof teachers in high early childhood education center centers in Syria were interested in developing their ICT skills and knowledge (Forsyth ,2012) Although the study was carried out in a developed country and the focus was on the Science based subjects, the research focused on the teacher factors influencing integration of ICT in acquisition of literacy skills in early childhood education.Mumias Sub-county in Kenya has embraced Information Communication and Technology as an important component of a school’s curriculum, a support tool for providing teachers and pre-primary learners with enhanced teaching opportunities in the whole range of school subjects notwithstanding the challenges.
Naseri & Elliot,(2011) postulates that in countries like Australia, USA and UK, the content of national curriculum statements provides clear evidence for this shift from the teaching of ICT alone to the integration of ICT as an important tool in the school curricular.
Hennessy, Harrison & Wamakote, (2010) states that Western countries have reported up to 41% of integration of ICT in acquisition of literacy skills and this proportion remains substantially low in Africa, Kenya included. Makewa,(2013),asserts that Information Communication Technology (ICT) as an interactive media facilitates pre-primary learners’ development of diversified skills for industrialization and a knowledge-based economy and goes a long way in allowing teachers and pre-primary learners to proceed at different paces depending on the prevailing circumstances. Amajor project in Pre-primary schools meant to equip over 200 pre-primary schools has been rolled out in Kenya, (The Ministry of Education,2010) with the aim of putting in place ICT infrastructure for use in the acquisition of literacy skills process through ICT.
Policy makers attest to the fact that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) integration takes place when teachers have knowledge on incorporating and using ICT to teach in the classroom (MoE, 2010) hence the pre-primary learners become engaged in using ICT as a tool to learn. This study aims to examine the impact of science and technology in the pre-primary level of education in Uyo Local Government Area.
The Impact of Science and Technology in the Pre-Primary Level of Education
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The scenario of the classroom is changing. There is a technological gap between the progress of the society and instructional activities of the teacher in the classroom. If we see in our society on the one hand technology has revolutionized our society and on the other hand the teaching learning activities at school level have remained so far away from technology. In our classroom the knowledge is imparted by the teacher in an ancient way, a teacher centric mode which is most of the time boring and not to gain interest to the student. But present 21st Century’s education is student centric education.
Since development in pre-school ages is very fast, it is necessary to keeping up with this development educationally and increase children’s development to the highest degree possible. Science and Technology use has important contributions to support children’s developmental areas.
With regard to language development, technological products giving the chance for children to speak, think, listen, tell and communicate with each other positively affect the children to improve word treasure, receptive and productive skills (effective listening, explaining, questioning, giving orders, making requests, guessing, dramatizing, re-telling, etc.), communication skills, reading writing skills, audio-visual perception skills, and the skills to express emotion, feeling and dreams etc., the research on impact of science and technology in the pre-primary level of education in Uyo Local Government Area becomes imperative.