Early childhood development can be improved by conducting advocacy, promoting sharing of knowledge and best practices, and by providing a forum for policy dialogue, curriculum enrichment, training and development.
This was dicussed by the Early Childhood Development Network of Pakistan (ECDNP) during a conference, 'Early Childhood Development - Prospects and Challenges' on Saturday at the Movenpick hotel. Around 32 NGOs, government representatives, early childhood development experts participated in the conference. ECDNP is a network established by stakeholders working in either early childhood development or early childhood education in Pakistan. It was developed earlier this year in March.
The chief programme manager of the Sindh education department's reform support unit, Saba Mehmood, presented the government's plans to improve early childhood education during the event. She said that early childhood education was a priority of the provincial government and it had planned to establish early childhood education classes in government and private schools. Moreover, plans of opening 121 early childhood development centres in each taluka were also being developed at the moment. These and other initiatives to improve access, governance and accountability were planned under the Sindh Education Sector Plan 2014-18.
HANDS chief executive officer Dr Tanveer Shaikh said that around 5.5 million children in the country were not in schools, making Pakistan the second country after Nigeria to have the highest population of illiteracy among children.
Shahjahan Baloch of Action Aid emphasised the need to create a conducive environment to nurture children both at home and in schools. Sartaj from Roots Work Foundation presented a structure and proposed how the network should go about achieving its goals.
Representative of ECDNP presented the progress of the network thus far and the background behind its formation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.