LAHORE: ASER South Asia hosted a webinar on “Understanding foundational numeracy: South Asian perspectives on ICAN, a new global tool” on Tuesday.

ASER South Asia is a hub of the People’s Action for Learning (PAL) network, comprising ASER Bangladesh, ASER India, ASER Nepal and ASER Pakistan. The panelists for the webinar included BRAC Bangladesh Executive Director Asif Saleh, Pratham CEO Rukmini Banerji, The Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC) Pakistan Chairman Shehzad Jeeva and World Bank New Delhi senior education specialist Marguerite Clarke.

The discussion was moderated by Global Partnership for Education (GPE) senior education specialist Ramya Vivekandan.

The webinar was aimed at advocating a common regional tool that can be used in diverse contexts (school, household and refugee camps) and is particularly important in the post Covid-19 era when they will see learning loss and increasing equity gaps.

The webinar began with a presentation on the International Common Assessment of Numeracy (ICAN) report, explaining the Citizen-led Assessment (CLA) approach and its relevance for the Global South. The webinar was interpreted simultaneously in Urdu, Bangla, Nepali and Hindi languages to facilitate participants from the South Asian region to listen to the discussion in their respective languages.

World Bank’s Marguerite Clarke talked about how Citizen-led assessments are liberating and tend to be more transparent on many levels.

“ICAN is a citizen led assessment of the people, by the people and for the people – With citizens involved, it helps in empowering them and truly understanding the data,” she said. Clarke wished for all children in the region, no matter where they live or who their family is, to achieve their maximum potential.

Pratham India CEO Rukmini Banerji said, “The simplicity of the tool, the possibility of doing this with so many children was a step for us to think about learning for ALL,” adding, “It’s not just ICAN, it’s we can and we will.”

BRAC Bangladesh Executive Director Asif Saleh highlighted the importance of a common assessment tool for South Asia.

He stressed upon the need to involve the community and parents in the discussion on quality education.

“The ICAN tool helps us assess children not just in school but also out of school. This helps engage parents and communities who are very important,” he said.

IBCC Pakistan Chairman Shehzad Jeeva said since ICAN is available in multiple languages and is easy to understand, it becomes a vital tool that helps assessing children more effectively.

“We have done away with the pass/fail system and are now more focused on school based assessment,” he said.

He said ASER Pakistan is assessing learning and numeracy for children in Pakistan and its findings are an eye opener to understand the urgency of learning.

Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) CEO Baela Raza Jamil said ICAN is a dream come true and is surely a gift from the South to the world while all the panelists wished for this conversation to continue, especially from the South Asian perspective, and for every child to have equal learning opportunities.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2020

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