ITA in 2023 - A Year of Learning, Response and Resilience!
For Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), 2023 has been a year steeped in learning, hope, innovations and enduring resilience. ITA’s teams immersed themselves in multiple layers of exploration, evidence gathering and action on ground. We share highlights with our friends and partners ensuring All Children & Adolescents Learn in Pakistan!
A magical journey began in 2023 to create 15 new children’s books with three local publishers with our catalytic global partner Room to Read for the Pakistan Literacy Project (PLP). Never in Pakistan’s history, authors, illustrators, editors and publishers worked as a team to produce children’s books. This was a ‘first’ in children’s publishing and ITA is thrilled to have been a pioneer. Since November 2023 ITA has been launching the 15 vibrant books at the Pakistan Learning Festivals (PLFs); Ministers of Education appreciated the milestone. 6000 sets of 15 titles supporting foundational learning will reach 3000 schools (January 2024) across Pakistan. Our partnership with Room to Read builds on multipliers through Government support; the School Education Department (SED) Punjab, all provincial school education/ elementary and secondary departments and the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training (MoFE&PT)!
The spread of books and libraries has grown at speed under PLP; 34 libraries have demonstrated that open accessible shelves filled with leveled books make children accomplished and happy readers. The 28 adapted beautiful books in Urdu, Sindhi, Pashto and Darri have reached over 1.5 million children in 5000+ schools in 110 districts of the country! Our dedicated teams provided one day training to 900 headteachers and teachers in 24 districts on best use of leveled books for reading to learn! 38 master trainers of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) completed a three-day training to promote foundational learning during the “Reading Hour” in all six regions in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) with MoFE&PT support; a revival of active libraries is underway!
January-December 2023 deepened ITA’s emergency response for the recovery phase of climate change induced floods in Sindh reaching 225,000 beneficiaries with FCDO support. Back to school kits, menstrual hygiene reusable packs to 10,000 adolescent girls and school stabilization kits (ECE-grade 8) were distributed to 791 schools for relief and recovery; 800, sixty days learning camps deploying Teaching at the Right Level (TARL)/Chalo Parho Barho (CPB) interventions were completed with brilliant gains! The TARL camps reached 31,000 children: 89% in-school at risk and 11% out of school children, girls, minorities and children with disabilities in Ghotki and Shikarpur districts facilitated by the School Education & Literacy Department (SELD) Govt of Sindh. For a province that struggles chronically with learning, the positive outcomes offer great promise if scaled up in mainstream schools’ routines to build foundational competencies for children and teachers. TARL/CPB camps are being deployed in the Multi-year Resilience Program (MYRP) with Voluntary Support Organization (VSO), Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and Government partnership for refugees and host communities in 5 districts of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Balochistan reaching 44000 Beneficiaries . CPB/TARL content and guidelines were approved by all provincial governments in 2023! The Emergency Dividends for foundational learning have been exceptional. Can this delivery approach become a system response for quality and equity in Pakistan? ITA teams worked with lightning speed sharing results through blogs and papers at national and international conferences. We worked in close liason with the Education Sector Working Group (ESWG) clusters at provincial and national level. A micro study on impact of climate change/floods on ECCE (mothers/children and education) was conducted in Shikarpur district supported by ARNEC and shared in CEBU, Philippines and at COP28. The Climate Change movement in ITA’s programs is gaining ground. We connected with leaders at the RewirED Summit 2023, hosted by Dubai Cares.. The digitalization of Mahol Sahelian CC trilogy publications, the mobile libraries outreach for climate change, 50 Greening Schools & mobilization of SELD for CC actions will continue with great outcomes in 2024
The Fellowship pilot of the South-South Program across Brazil, Kenya and Pakistan coordinated by ITA with support of Lemann Foundation, Education Development Trust (EDT) and FCDO continued full steam. Steeped in the “Sobral Experience” as an intensive learning laboratory on system transformation, 35 education system leaders from Pakistan and Kenya engaged in a deep dive in their countries after the immersive experience of how the municipality rose from the bottom to the top in national learning ranking. Producing global public goods through transnational coalitions and peer to peer learning is at the core of the South-South Program triggering strategic actions in Pakistan for “Foundational learning”. The pilot created a nation-wide buy-in by the Fellows/senior decision makers for foundational learning in large scale ongoing programs. All assessment bodies (public and private) are resolved to produce a national consensus tool on measuring FL (June’23). The Pakistan Learning Conference (June 20-21,2023) organized by MoFE&PT and Fellows shared possibilities to accelerate FL; it culminated in establishment of the Pakistan Foundational Learning (PFL) Hub at the MoFE&PT in September 2023. The PFL-Hub together with ITA hosted a conference with solution providers on FL to share what works in November 2023. What was unleashed in Brazil has begun to carve pathways for inclusive and equitable learning including all Villages learning, even in emergencies. Presence of S-S Fellows at the Education World Forum (2023) in UK for global conversations on what works and why, the Education Commission’s Deliver Ed and the GEEAP Reports on great buys mobilized them as placeholders for accelerating SDG 4 actions.
ITA’s flagship program, ASER Pakistan moved with juggernaut speed in 2023 inclusively across multiple learning groups to share findings on urban slums, political constituencies of four parties and especially converting assessments for children with disabilities in collaboration with Sight Savers. As a member of the powerful PAL Network, ITA deployed the award winning ICAN Tool (WISE awardee 2023), transforming for children with visual and hearing impairments. The inclusive pilot teacher guidelines/tools were shared and showcased in Nairobi, Kenya at the PAL Network family gathering with 17 member countries by ITA and SightSavers teams. This will be disseminated widely in Pakistan with policymakers to mainstream inclusive assessments for FL in January 2024. Supported by FCDO and UNICEF, ASER Pakistan in 2023 undertook nationwide assessment in 152 rural and 123 urban districts in 31 divisions to produce a national report covering 300,000+ learners (3-16 years old) to be launched in January 2024. ASER’s next-gen tools of ICAN and PAL ELANA mapped to the global proficiency framework and early years domains on apps are poised for wider sharing after district pilots and field trials in 2023. ASER is anchored as an open source democratic public good for SDG 4.1.1a or lower primary FL assessment through digital apps enabling parents, teachers and communities to assess children and take appropriate remedial actions.
Engagement with the last mile schools in search of schools based holistic learning transformations as a research partner of the vibrant Schools2030 program, a 10 year global catalytic initiative by the Aga Khan Foundation to accelerate actions for SDG 4 in and through schools has been a privilege. ITA led the exciting phase one research with Zizi Afrique Foundation in Kenya and Pakistan focusing on teachers’ agency, co-creating solutions with students and communities’ participation, adopting the human centered design principles. Pakistan and Kenya belong to the 10 selected Schools2030 countries reaching 1000 schools (100 government schools each), exploring across pre -primary, primary and secondary years the bespoke interplay of academic and non-academic domains. Led by the frontline agents of change, equipped to collaboratively assess unique challenges, test low cost micro-innovations that work and showcase them nationally and globally. Researching transformational shifts in tough terrains (Chitral/Gilgit Baltistan/Mombassa) through mixed methods tools that best measure shifts in knowledge, skills, attitudes and values within government schools has been illuminating. The research highlighted what constitutes learning challenges across unique contexts including climate change; creation of enabling capacities to design locally driven solutions that build on reforms, partnerships and social capital to sustain learning transformations. Pakistan is fortunate to be part of Schools2030 movement to inform government and public policy on what works and why in learning and imperatives of investment in teacher led innovations and school reforms.
ITA embedded deeply in values of gender rights and social justice for protecting the rights of children, women and men for the most marginalized communities continued its journey with Aawaz II program in 2023 in collaboration with the British Council. The program expanded in two new districts in Punjab (Okara and Toba Tek Singh) reaching 12000 beneficiaries. Our teams worked energetically, mobilizing through bottom up approach, establishing Aawaz Aagahi Centres (AACs) with multi-ethnic community champions, invoking laws, awareness, access to social protection instruments and demanding entitlements from duty bearers. It has been a rich action and results packed journey of behavior change to end violence against women, early and forced child marriages, ensuring rights of minorities, people with disabilities and transgender communities. The year has brought forward bold case studies by the Aawaz II teams at Union Council level, leading to birth registration of 200 children, especially girls, stopping forced child marriages in marginalized communities. This initiative stands as a testament to our commitment to empowering the once silenced. Collaborating with Chanan Development Association (CDA) for the “Amplifying Change” project, ITA is part of a consortium on advocating for Reproductive Health and Rights, focusing specifically on addressing Menstrual Hygiene awareness and challenges. Organizations in Lahore & Gilgit have been supported for capacity building to multiply the outcomes.
Life Skills for Kids (LSK) was a complex program over 8 years to end worst forms of child labor (WFCL) in ragpicking through a holistic approach near six rubbish dumps of Lahore. LSK ended in June 2023 as an intensive learning laboratory for 540 children (6-18 years of age) through a combination of multi-sectoral interventions of education, health, nutrition, skilling, livelihoods and mainstreaming children into regular schools. Many graduates have made history by self-funding their education in matriculation with science subjects. Some are actively teaching in schools, others are managing small shops, and a few are running skill centers after graduating from LSK TVET centers. This success story with industry support has been evaluated and must be upscaled for addressing ILO Convention 182 to end WFCL.
ITA’s collaboration with Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (SOC) Films witnessed the culmination of the 18 daring Patakha Films with 38 women filmmakers. These young women filmmakers have gone on to receive multiple awards, receiving great reviews in Pakistan and beyond.
Preparations for the 91st Pakistan Learning Festival (PLF) Parho Parhao Pakistan are underway in Lahore 24-25 January 2024 bearing the theme, Learning for People and Planet. PLF is a social movement, the largest inclusive Learning Festival in Pakistan promoting 6 Cs across 16 strands steeped in multi-sensory, multi-lingual and multi-cultural experiences. 2023 witnessed 150,000 footfall in Abbottabad, Peshawar, Multan, Karachi and Islamabad.
Winding down 2023, it was a great delight to visit Sister Zeph’s village and amazing work near Gujranwala. SIster Zeph, the winner of the Global Teacher Prize 2023 among 7000 teachers globally has made us proud by agreeing to be the National and Global Ambassador for ITA and Room to Read Publications and Campaigns for Reading/Libraries!
We, the ITA team usher in 2024 with even greater resolve through alliances and partnerships that will continue to deepen our presence for making the difference that we envision with impact and digital transformation.