Idara E Taleem o Aagahi

Children suffered most in 2022 floods’ – The Express Tribune  

KARACHI: A two-day Conference on ‘Foundation Learning and Early Childhood Care and Education in Emergencies’ has commenced at a local hotel in Karachi on Tuesday.

The conference was organised by the Sindh School Education and Literacy Department in collaboration with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Speakers present on the occasion discussed the challenges faced by the education system in Sindh.

The speakers talked about Covid-19 and the devastating floods across the country that have left more than 2 million children in Pakistan inaccessible to education, damaging nearly 27,000 schools in the country.

Addressing the conference Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho, said that numerous schools in the province were severely affected during the 2022 floods, resulting in extensive delays in their reconstruction.

Consequently, the education of children attending these schools has been disrupted for a period of four to five years, which are crucial years for their learning and development.

“It is imperative for us to embrace e-learning and virtual education as we bring children back into the education system,” Pechuho said.

She added that during the COVID-19 pandemic, children remained confined to their homes, and we made efforts to ensure their immunisation. Speaking on the occasion, Education Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah emphasised the role of mothers as the first and best early childhood educators.

He said, “Early childhood education teachers play a vital role in guiding children towards proper education and the right path, just like mothers”. The minister expressed his disappointment at the fact that no philanthropist had come forward to help in constructing schools, unlike Mir Ghulam Muhammad Talpur, who built schools in Tando Bagho during the 1920s.

“Today, no one is stepping forward to construct schools which were affected during the flood,” he added. Sardar Shah further said that the Sindh government had hired sixty thousand teachers based on merit, which is a record achievement.

He also announced the appointment of 659 early school teachers and plans to hire an additional 1600 early school teachers. He further said that music teachers will also be recruited within 15 days.

Highlighting the significance of formulating education laws, Secretary School Education Ghulam Akbar Laghari said that everyone faced difficulties during the floods, but children were mostly affected.

School buildings were damaged and camps were established for affected students. Temporary learning centres were set up with the cooperation of UNICEF and other international organizations.

The conference also discussed how to sustain education during such emergencies.

A panel discussion was also held among educational experts, where recommendations were presented on how to keep going with education during an emergency state.

UNICEF Sindh Field Officer Chief Prem Bahadur Chand, representatives from UNICEF, the World Bank, Save the Children, Idara e Taleem-o-Agahi, AKU, and other national and international organisations attended the event on the first day. APP

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2023.