Idara E Taleem o Aagahi
Conference On Foundational Learning, Early Childhood Care Begins - The Urdu Point

Conference On Foundational Learning, Early Childhood Care Begins – The Urdu Point

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

KARACHI, (APP – UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 11th Jul, 2023 ):A two-day Conference on ‘Foundation Learning and Early Childhood Care & Education in Emergencies’ has commenced at a local hotel here on Tuesday.

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

Sindh Minister for Health Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Sindh Education Minister Syed Ali Sardar Shah, Secretary Education Ghulam Akbar Laghari, Chief of Field Office UNICEF Sindh Prem Bahadur Chand, Dr. Junaid Samo Chief Program Manager RSU, Dr. Fauzia Khan and representatives from UNICEF, the World Bank, Save the Children, Idara e Taleem-o-Agahi, AKU, and other national and international organizations attended the event the first day.

The conference is aimed at addressing the challenges faced by the education system in Sindh and Pakistan.

The speakers on the occasion said that COVID-19, the devastating floods, which washed away whole villages across Sindh, Balochistan, KPK and some districts of Punjab, left more than 2 million children in Pakistan inaccessible to education and damaged nearly 27,000 schools in the country.

These emergencies emphasize the urgency to build more resilience and preparedness for such crises and to ensure growing investment and system strengthening to the continuum of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and Foundation Learning in lower primary (up to grade 3).

They said that the growing investment in these two sub-sectors where a majority of the enrolled children are present will create sustainable lifelong learning possible. The Foundational Learning crisis in Pakistan has solid evidence.

Addressing the conference, the Provincial 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 4 to 5 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.

Bringing out-of-school children back into the learning environment is crucial.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, children remained confined to their homes, and we made efforts to ensure their immunization.

Speaking at the conference, the Provincial Education Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah emphasized the role of mothers as the first and best early childhood educators.

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 they had hired sixty thousand teachers based on merit, which is a record achievement.

They faced numerous obstacles in the bureaucracy, but with the clear directives from the Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, they succeeded in recruiting teachers purely on merit.

He said that lecturer appointments under the Sindh Public Service Commission have been completed, and once colleges reopen in August, the shortage of lecturers will be resolved.

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

Efforts were made during the emergencies to ensure that children’s education remained uninterrupted. This conference aims to discuss how to sustain education during such emergencies. We must remain prepared for any future emergencies.

During the conference, panel discussions were also held among educational experts, where recommendations were presented on how to continue education during emergencies.