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Balochistan Education Caucus on Significance of ECD

BACKGROUND

On 30th March 2016, Parwaan National Centre of Excellence organized an orientation session to create awareness on the importance of Early Years Education and Development (ECED) among parliamentarians. The aim of the session was to sensitize the audience about the strong link of right nutrition and health care in early years with later learning and academic successes and also draw recommendations/way forward on implementation of Balochistan ECE provincial plan. Members of parliament, civil society and journalists attended the session. The agenda of this session was to take Balochistan government on board to ensure better coordination and effective implementation of ECED activities in Balochistan. Ms. Seema Zia, Program Manager ECED, and Ms. Saima Qadeer, Lead Coordinator Parwaan National Center of Excellence facilitated the session.

The event was conducted with facilitation from Association for Integrating Masses (AIM). AIM facilitated Parwaan in coordination with parliamentarians of Balochistan Assembly and other participants for this event, as well as in organizing meeting with Minister and Secretary for Education Department Government of Balochistan.

OBJECTIVES OF THE SESSION:

  1. To sensitize public leadership to mobilize political, administrative, and financial support for the promotion and institutionalization of ECED in the province
  2. To strengthen coordination between education and health sectors to enhance policy focus on health and nutrition of children and joint initiatives for their balanced physical, cognitive, and emotional development. 

NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS:

More than forty participants including parliamentarians, civil society organizations, media and members of lawyers’ community actively participated in the orientation session.

PROCEEDINGS:

The one-day session was conducted at Quetta Serena Hotel. More than forty participants attended the event (attendance list attached). The presentation started with the introduction of Parwaan given by Program Manager ECED Ms. Seema Zia. She gave a brief introduction of Parwan, its vision, mission, mandate and short details of its interventions related to ECED, she further shared the four (04) Sustainable Development Goals that are closely related to Early Childhood Education and Development as well as their targets for 2030.

Ms. Saima Qadeer Lead Coordinator Parwaan in her presentation on significance of early years education focused on details of ECED, what is the scope of ECED, why is it important, advantages of timely intervention in early childhood, return on investment on ECED and the importance of first 1000 days of early childhood.

She also spoke about the close relation of nutrition and good health in early years with learning efficiency in later life. Further parts of her presentation included statistics related to education and health of Balochistan in specific and Pakistan in general. The challenges to ECED in Pakistan were highlighted, encouraging initiatives of provincial and federal government/s on ECED and the way forward to achieve the targets of SDG goals where Pakistan need drastic efforts were also discussed. Her presentation was detailed and comprehensive and was appreciated by participants in their comments including the parliamentarians. After her presentation Ms. Saima opened the floor for discussion, comments & for questions. 

Mr. Shoaib, from SCSPEB, pointed out the encouraging picture of education in Balochistan. He shared that Balochistan is the only province that have added the provision of food in Article 25-A to promote free and compulsory education in Balochistan.

Mr. Shoaib added that it is the only province that has provincial ECE plan. It was the first province that introduced sector ECE plan and the only province that has allocated separate fund for ECE under PSDP. 

Senior Journalist from Dawn News, Mr. Shahid Saleem, added his comments that teacher unions are strong and they should play a positive role in the improvement in education system of Balochistan. He also pointed towards the dilemma of around 900 ghost schools in Balochistan.

Some participants called for research to see the reasons why children drop out from schools. Some emphasized the need for improvement of classroom environment in schools in Balochistan as the teachers in government schools are using traditional style of teaching. Where as some civil society representatives asked the parliamentarians present there that why the government is spending more on construction then on quality side of Education.

Standardized syllabus was also demanded as in some schools there are Punjab Text Book Board books, in some Oxford is followed while in some Balochistan Textbook Board is followed. While some of the participants called for Education Emergency in the province. The representatives from media emphasized the need for specialist teachers and they should come on open merit.

Mr. Nasrullah Zehri parliamentarian in his remarks said that the situation has now changed. The government is taking practical steps to improve the status of education in the province. The teachers are now selected through NTS. The primer for the katchi class has been developed in local language. He said the private schools are not following it. He said he has made twenty-five schools in areas where there were no schools in his constituency through annual development budget. In the past schools operated in the verandahs and baithaks of vaderas of the area.

Mr. Nasarullah Zairay, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) said that the provincial government is taking crucial steps in improving examination system, transparency in process of teacher recruitment through NTS, and remuneration to teachers, and teacher student ratio that must be acknowledged and appreciated. While concluding, he appreciated the efforts of Parwaan on ECED.

Ms. Samina Ahmed, Chairperson Standing Committee for Education, Balochistan, concluded the session by expressing her views. She highlighted many critical issues during her speech. She shared that government owned schools are producing the best brains of the province at a considerably lower cost as compared to private schools.

She also stressed on effective improvement and implementation of policies for better education in the province. She concluded her remarks by highlighting the importance of ECED in upbringing of a civilized and valuable individual in our society. Ms. Samina appreciated the efforts already in place to improve the situation at a rapid rate and expressed commitment to work hard to paint even better picture for the children of this country.