By Emmanuel Edukugho
Early childhood education is the type of education given to children aged six months to five years prior to their entering primary school anchored mainly on play.

In this interview, Mr. Anthony Obaze-Alanza,a MD/CEO, Anthhill Trade Ltd., imports educational materials and equipment required for teaching and learning in kindergatten, pre-school, nursery and primary schools.
He explained that the main focus actually is anchored on child education through play.

“Play is important ingredient in the development of a child. That is why there is a saying – all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Hence at the beginning of a child education, all aspects of teaching are anchored around play. So Anthill Trade is an indigenous, wholly owned company that handles distribution of educational toys and play ground development.”

He talked more about early childhood education, the facilities and environment conducive for this level of education. Excerpts of the interview:

You mentioned use of toys and provision of play ground facilities in the implementation of early child education. What do you mean?

This means that for any school to be standardised in terms of facilities, it must boast of a well equipped play ground that must have the basic play equipment needed for the children to have sufficient play.

How long have you been dong this?

We’ve been into toys and play ground development in the past nine years. We are the official franchise holders to STEP 2 of USA in Nigeria and the West Africa Sub-region.

Ba\sed on our experience over time, we’ve been able to discover that STEP 2 products are actually the kind of toys that suit African weather and environment. They don’t lose their colour when exposed to the sun, unlike many other products.

They have natural colour that is appealing to children, and very rugged in terms of strength. A whole lot of schools across the country have embracede STEP 2 products.

Can you say what these products are?

The products include slides, cars for children, school furniture, play houses, bouncy castles, cooking essentials, adventure lodge, play centres and other interactive educational equipments. We equally have soft toys for pre-school.

Which level of education  toys can be used?

Pre-school to primary, six months to nine years age group. Basically, our products are in respect of early childhood education in which the child is given the best in terms of play. STEP 2 has other subsidiaries like Infantino and Thinkativity.

With STEP 2 products, our clients are offered goods/products for nature, learning, play and socialisation. The STEP 2 family group offers consumers more choice from well-trusted brands, committed to making the childhood experience fun, safe and happy. STEP 2 is a leading educational toy company in USA and the world. Only Nigeria and South Africa have franchise for STEP 2 brands in Africa.

Who are your clientele?

We have a very wide clientele base that cut across all the states of the federation. Major schools in the country use the products. We started the franchise in 2008 and ever since they were introduced into the Nigerian market, we’ve not been able to meet demands.

School operators have come to see in STEP 2, products that can aid learning. The company through a well-articulated Research/Development Department was able to come out with naturally playful products that can stand the test of time  – in terms of weather and environmental degradation.

Our vision is to make STEP 2 a household name in Nigeria so that when the children grow up, they will sit down and reflect on their early childhood life and the fun that STEP 2 provided them.

Do you have some challenges?

Yes. The fluctuation in foreign exchange rate which had really been a major challenge to importers.

Another is the duty placed on toys. I want to appeal to the government to see how to reduce it to 5 per cent in order to make the products available at affordable prices. and children will bless them as benefactors and future leaders. An average child needs adequate play for proper physical and mental development. Toys are fundamental to child development.

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