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March 28, 2017

‘Montessori education in all Islamabad schools by year end’

Islamabad

 
March 28, 2017

Islamabad

After introducing model Montessori classrooms in 11 schools, the government will ensure Montessori education in all of its schools in Islamabad by the end of the current year under the Prime Minister’s Education Reforms Programme.

This was disclosed by Minister of the State for Federal Education and Professional Training Engnineer Balighur Rehman after inaugurating the first-ever National Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education here on Monday.

The conference was organised by the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training in collaboration with the Early Child Development Network of Pakistan and other national and international partner organisations, including Rupani Foundation, Japan International Cooperation Agency, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, at the Allama Iqbal Open University.

The minister, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said to address financial constraints of widening access to the ECCE (early childhood care and education), the government was also envisioning public-private partnerships for the necessary initiatives.

He said the early years of a child’s growth were the formative years, which had a lasting effect on their entire life. “The early years are important not only in terms of education but also for nutritional care and character building of a child and hence ECCE demands serious attention from us,” he said.

The minister said the ECCE should not refer to the age bracket of 0 to 8 years but of -1 to 8 years and that it should also include one year prior to a child’s birth. “Research suggests that the development of a child’s brain is rigorous during the early months of pregnancy which requires presence of adequate amount of folic acid in mother’s body and therefore, as part of the ECCE, counselling sessions of the expecting mothers should start 3 months prior to pregnancy,” he said.

The minister said the Sustainable Development Goal 4.2 also required ensuring access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education for all children by 2030. “SDGs are also our National Development Goals and we are committed to achieving these targets,” he said, adding that the new education policy being developed would incorporate a separate chapter on the ECCE into the textbooks.

The minister said due to the successful policies of the government, the country’s ranking had elevated by 12 positions in the recently released World Happiness Index. He said he was hopeful that the conference would be instrumental in guiding the future course on the ECCE in the country and would present the customised solutions to the indigenous ECCE issues.

Earlier, joint education adviser to the ministry Rafiq Tahir said the conference had three major objectives i.e. bringing all stakeholders to one forum, reviewing the current status of ECCE in Pakistan and charting future direction, and providing a forum to learn best practices, disseminate research and promote collaboration on the ECCE.

He regretted that education, health and nutrition departments worked in isolation losing the benefits of holistic approach to the ECC, while the early child interventions by private and development sector were also scattered.

“This conference will help synergise efforts and formulate strategies to integrate ECCE activities across the country,” he said.

ECD Network of Pakistan Chairman Nasruddin Rupani said his organisation supported initiatives and provides guidance for a holistic approach towards the ECCE. He said the Network strived for the inclusion of the ECCE in the development agenda of the country.

“Modern technology demands high standards of education which makes provision of early learning opportunities to students indispensible”, he said. AIOU Vice-Chancellor Dr. Shahid Siddiqui vowed to hold a regular annual conference on ECCE going forward and also announced to publish an independent research journal on the subject by the end of the year.

“We have already begun a diploma programme for ECCE and we are planning to introduce a 4-year BS programme as well soon,” he said. Chief representative of the JICA Pakistan Yasuhiro Tojo said recognising the importance of the ECCE and pre-primary education was significant for the sustainable development of the country.

Cristian Lorena of the UNICEF Pakistan said the timely investments in ECCE were invaluable and that guaranteed health and better education opportunities for children would help reduce poverty and achieve targets under SDGs.  The conference began with cultural performances and awareness tableaus by the students of Roots International School. It was attended by around 300 delegates including researchers, practitioners, teacher and students from government and development sector.

 

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