Pre-primary education affected most during lockdowns

Published January 12, 2022
Educationists, school owners and teachers at the discussion organised by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi. — Photo by writer
Educationists, school owners and teachers at the discussion organised by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi. — Photo by writer

KARACHI: The Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) organised a policy discussion on ‘Early Learning Partnership Systems Research in Sindh’ at the office of the Sindh Education and Literacy Department (SELD) at the Sindh Secretariat here on Tuesday.

Mariam Shah, the manager of the whole school improvement programme (WSIP)-Early Childhood Education (ECE) at ITA, explained their work and the reason behind the study carried out by them.

It was explained the lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic have had an adverse effect of making ECE inaccessible to many children. Pre-primary education has been neglected and marginalised more in comparison to other levels of education during this time.

“The study aims to investigate and provide evidence of the short- and medium term effects of Covid-19 on early learning in Sindh,” she said, explaining that they carried out their research in eight districts of Sindh involving 1,819 children, 1,690 parents and caregivers, 108 head teachers and 90 teachers.

She also said that the research deployed a mixed methods approach with quantitative data.

The key findings as shared by ITA’s Research Associate Hamza Sarfraz showed that limited access to distance learning during the period of lockdown but participation in distance learning via text messages, television, radio and particularly printed materials was comparatively high.

They also showed a positive trend of play-based learning in ECE, evidence of limited professional development and training relevant to Covid-19 and ECE being provided to head teachers during the pandemic. Also parents of children had engaged in the learning activities with their children.

“Still, the limited prioritisation of ECE during the pandemic highlights the need to develop more coherent, entrenched and formalised ECE specific strategies at a system’s level and the caregiver-reported learning outcomes of children hint at learning losses incurred during the pandemic,” he added.

SELD chief adviser-curriculum wing Dr Fouzia Khan later said that she endorsed the data collection by ITA as it helped them see the challenges faced by the parents and teachers of young children during the pandemic.

“We were not expecting that parents of children, who had limited education, doing so much for their children while they were not attending physical classes,” she said.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2022

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