‘Developing countries must invest in early education’

Published June 11, 2015
“Around eight million children in Pakistan, under the age of five years, are not meeting their development potential because of absolute poverty and malnutrition,” Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Baligur Rehman said. —AP/File
“Around eight million children in Pakistan, under the age of five years, are not meeting their development potential because of absolute poverty and malnutrition,” Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Baligur Rehman said. —AP/File

ISLAMABAD: “Around eight million children in Pakistan, under the age of five years, are not meeting their development potential because of absolute poverty and malnutrition,” Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Baligur Rehman said on Wednesday.

He was speaking at the opening session of a three-day training workshop on ‘Concepts and Methodology of Early Childhood Education for Low Cost Private Schools of Islamabad’ at the Academy of Education Planning and Management (AEPAM).

The workshop was organised by Parwaan Centre for Excellence in collaboration with federal education ministry and Private School Network. Over 60 administrators of low income private schools were trained in the promotion of early education.

“This is a good opportunity for us (administrators) to be trained on how we can create a child friendly environment in classrooms. We are being taught about the importance of audio visual aids and art for preschool students,” said Mohammad Banaras, a school administrator.

Earlier, the state minister said that the government was concerned about those children who are not meeting their development potential and hopes to provide services to help them overcome their disadvantage.

“With this vision and commitment in mind, we launched Parwaan Centre for Early Childhood Education and Care,” he said.

The minister said: “Pakistan accounts for eight million of such children across the world and sadly, the loss of human potential is associated with 20 per cent deficit in future earning potential.”

Baligur Rehman added that investing in young children is one of the smartest things that developing countries can do.

“We want to foster partnerships and will make resources available for private sector through National Education Foundation,” he said.

President Parwaan ECED Centre Mehnaz Aziz, in her welcome address, said there were no serious facilities and commitments for ages 0-5.

She said Parwaan is a public private collaboration and guides the public sector and recognises and works with private sector.

“There are approximately 70,000 registered low cost private schools in Pakistan and they have not received support in capacity building and this is the first time that such an activity is taking place,” she said.

She told Dawn that training will enable administrators of private school to provide a friendly environment to children of ages between three and five.

“The early years education are very important as most adult mental ability is developed during the first three years, however, in Pakistan early education has not received due attention,” she said and added that during the early years students should be taught through games and other innovations.

Additional Secretary Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training Dr Allah Baksh Malik, in his address, emphasised the importance of earlier years by giving examples from international research.

Dr Afzal Babur, President Private Schools Network Islamabad, said that if all children are given education, the country’s law and order situation will improve drastically.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2015

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