KARACHI: Educationists, policymakers, NGOs and representatives from the media gathered at a local hotel to share views on the importance of early childhood development initiatives to highlights and appreciate the commitment of those involved in providing educational access to the marginalized children.
The seminar on ‘Early Childhood Education’ ECE was organized by the Sindh Education Foundation to discuss child education and to showcase the progress and the achievements attained by its Early Learning Program ELP. The ELP workers on enhancing the physical and learning environment of 150 government schools with special focus on Katchi, grades one and two and directly benefits over 10,000 children, teachers , parents, caregivers, and communities.
The seminar focused on the challenges and achievements the program at the grass root level and deliberated how to improve the quality of learning and teaching during the early years.
The event hosted panellists such as Baela Raza Jamil, Director Programs, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, Dr Almina Pardhan Associate Professor, IED, Aga Khan University, Dr Shahida Mohiuddin, Mariam Shera Principal, FEC, Mahenaz Mahmud Advisor, TSC , Amima Sayeed, Abdulla Khan and Prof Anita Ghulam Ali MD, SEF.
Prof Anita Ghulam Ali said that it is essential to focus on the children for the nation to progress and a lot more needs to be done in this area. She said that there might be a focus on the youth but children in particular are not emphasized upon.
She stated that early childhood is a crucial stage in an individual’s life and the failure to invest in ECD can result in development delay and disability as well as inhibit the optimal development and performance of children throughout their lives.
Mahenaz Mahmud said it was necessary to provide a positive learning environment where children would want to participate and learn and grow. She said that the teachers should make sure to listen to the children and interact with them in their activities which will build up their self-esteem. She stated that “We should that we should focus on developmentally appropriate practices that focus on the needs of the children.”
Mariam Shera said that it is vital that “We as professional share your good practices to better the education sector.”She said child development begins as early as home schooling and it is a crucial period in one’s life in regards to development.
She said that children are born on learn and that it is essential to foster their curiosity and learning. She stated that children who are encouraged at an early age will perform better during the later years. She said that to ensure effective ECE teachers and parents training is very important.
Dr Shahida Mohiuddin said that progress on early year learning in Pakistan is quite slow. She said most of child development in Pakistan takes place at home without any formal planning. She stated that all children deserve a good start to life therefore we cannot ignore the early year which start from birth to 8 years of age.
Dr Almina Pardhan said that experiences during the early year such health care, nutrition and education are what shapes early childhood development. She stated that AKUIED is strongly committed to ECD and has implemented various initiatives in this regard and stated that these include teachers, education research, material, development, capacity building, and consultancy and service activities.
Baela Jamil said that the most oppressed groups in Pakistan are the children and the poor. She said that Pakistan has faced its share of emergencies such as natural disasters which have left many displaced. She said ITA designed a comprehensive multi sectoral community based program informed by ASER 2010 results that catered to children affected by the 2010 floods to help alleviate the situation. She stated that multi stakeholder’s partnership with the portents, teachers and community is the key in early childhood development.
Abdullah Khan said early education is an important tool in combating poverty. He said there have been many examples where areas with scarce resources have progressed once the education rate has been increased. He stated that the development of the child should be initiated even before birth and in done in the prenatal stage. He said ECD initiatives should be encouraged and promoted in mainstream to ensure awareness.