Rupani Foundation participated in the 2nd National Conference on Early Childhood Care & Education, as a co-organizer. Pursuing the objectives and recommendations of the first National Conference on Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE), held in March 2017, Rupani Foundation and Allama Iqbal Open University organized the second National Conference on Early Childhood Care & Education with the administrative support of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and in close collaboration with key development partners including UNICEF, PLAN International and Foundation Open Society Institute. The two-dayConference was held on May 2nd and 3rd 2018 at the Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad. The theme of the conference was: ‘Reconstructing Practices to address Challenges and Trends in ECCE’. The conference was planned for 300 delegates including senior government officials from federal and provincial governments, national and international speakers, ECCE experts, academicians, practitioners, planners, health professionals, teachers and representatives of national and international NGOs.
The conference was inaugurated by the honorable Federal Minister Engr. Muhammad Baligh-ur- Rehman. He applauded the efforts of the 2ndNational ECCE Conference organizers and for working on the recommendations of the first National Conference. The Conference brought together ECCE experts and practitioners to a platform to share the progress on the recommendations of the first conference, share research on ECCE and to highlight the needs and challenges of ECCE in Pakistan. There was an opening and closing session with two planarians and nine concurrent sessions, conference workshops and poster presentations. Around 45 researchers and key organizations from around the country presented their work.
“Let me assure you that we stand with all the initiatives and all the efforts that you are making for laying a sound foundation for the society. We have to reach out to every single child with your support. Early childhood development as you know is the fundamental right of every child to unleash his/her full potential. Without ensuring holistic development of children we cannot claim to transform the society.
A good foundation as you know, in the early years make a difference through adulthood and even gives the next generation a better start. Educated and healthy people participate in, and contribute to, the financial and social wealth of their societies. Early years of childhood form the basis of intelligence, personality, social behavior, and capacity to learn and nurture oneself as an adult”
Engr. Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman
Federal Minister for Education
National and international ECD experts Dr. Almina Pardhan, Faculty of Aga Khan University, Dr. Carol Anita Aubrey, Professor Emeritus, University of Warwick, Institute of Education and Dr. Nasima Sheikh, Deputy President of South African Research Association for Early Childhood Development delivered keynote presentations and representatives of UNICEF, Scaling Up Nutrition and provincial governments shared initiatives taken to promote ECD in Pakistan and highlighted key challenges faced by this sector.
Interactive sessions, discussions and presentations at the Conference resulted into solid recommendations that were presented by Professor Muhammad Rafique Tahir, Joint Educational Advisor, of the Federal Education and Professional Training.
ECCE policy should be based upon social constructivist approach which advocates the use of transformative pedagogies.
Policy should be developed through broad based consultations involving people from grass root level
Uniformity in quality of ECCE must be maintained across all provinces and regions.
Policy must ensure equal opportunities to maintain parity by gender, locale, and any other.
More than one sector is involved in child care and education therefore one platform is needed for coordination among different departments and ministries
Action Plan for implementing policy and curriculum should be developed with clear targets
Fast track formulation of the policy and legislation
Legislation and policy framework for early childhood care, development, education and protection are to be aligned.Process should be initiated wherever the legislation is yet to be made.Child safety and protection in schools, ECCE centers and society is to be ensured
Child behavior is complex, some can be shy and some can be hyperactive with different needs and abilities and early years are marked to be sensitive, for which teachers are to be prepared.
ECE instruction is entirely different than other levels therefore on job training is required at ECE center to equip teachers with the specific skills needed to fulfill the responsibility
Use of games, arts, stories, songs and music is essential part of ECE along with strengthening verbal communication and preventive measures are required for using technological tools.
Mother tongue is the best medium of instruction at early years. Other languages may be taught but not used as the instructional medium
Ethical standards should be made part of ECCE curriculum
Center of excellences for preparing master trainers of ECCE need to be established in all the regions
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
ECE centers enroll children of various ages and teachers need assistance, a cadre of “teaching assistants/care givers” is to be approved.
Diversity and inclusion is to be highlighted in teachers training so that they may be open to include various contexts.
Having differently-abled and challenged children at ECE centers is another aspect to be included in policy and arrangements are to be made for a more inclusive education in early years
Gender stereotyping comes from curriculum, physical spaces and behaviors; it needs to be eliminated at early years grooming for which teachers and parents are to be sensitized.
PARENTS AND SOCIETY INVOLVEMENT
Parental Education should be made mandatory and packages for parents should be developed by ECD experts and offered across the board
Government should support communities to provide ECCE services to children and parents from pre-natal – 3