Islamabad, April 28, 2015 (PPI-OT): Minister of State Baleegh Ur Rehman attended the “National Policy Dialogue on Early Childhood Education” arranged by Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and Agha Khan Foundation at Serena Hotel, Quetta today.
I cordially congratulate Government of Balochistan on launching of Early Childhood Education Policy, said the State Minister. I must appreciate the collaboration and partnership of Aga Khan Foundation and other partners.
Minister of State said that early childhood is generally defined as the period from birth to 8 years old. Quality Early Childhood Care and Education helps children to develop their potential and promotes their social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. Young children, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged, who benefit from Early Childhood Care and Education services, are more likely to be healthy, ready to learn, and stay longer and perform better in school.
The worldwide increased participation in pre-primary education is encouraging but it is still limited and unequal in developing countries, especially for the most disadvantaged children, lamented the Minister. Further he added that in some countries, children from privileged background are four times more likely to receive pre-primary education than poor children. The main challenge for implementing programs in developing countries is reaching the poorest populations through effective and targeted interventions. Other significant obstacles to the expansion of ECCE services include, lack of funding, limited country capacity and in some cases, low social demand for quality ECCE services. In addition, the quality of the ECCE services is often less than adequate. In many developing countries, the quality of infrastructure, teaching-learning materials and ECCE curricula are often poor and not well adapted to the needs of children. Qualified teachers and educators are also scarce.
Generally the Early Childhood Development Programs seeks to ensure a good start in life for young children, especially for poor and underprivileged children aged 3-8 years, stated the Minister. The overall goal of the program is to incorporate and institutionalize a range of replicable support for children’s overall development as confident, capable, creative and caring people.
The objectives of ECD model should be to improve social and emotional behavior of children, improve access and quality of teaching and learning, decrease dropout rates and grade repetition, increase timely school enrolment, increase school completion rates and improve parent child relationship.
Minister of State said that studies have shown that early childhood education is critical in preparing children to enter and succeed in the classroom, diminishing their risk of social-emotional mental health problems and increasing their self-sufficiency as adults. Visual stimulus and response time as early as 3 months can be an indicator of verbal and performance IQ at age 4 years.
By nature of providing education in a child’s most formative years, ECE also has the capacity to pre-emptively begin closing the educational achievement gap between low-and-high income students before formal schooling begins, emphasized the Minister. Children of low socioeconomic status often begin school already behind their higher socio-economic status peers. On average, by the time they are three, children with high socio-economic status have three times of the number of words in their vocabularies as children with low socioeconomic status . Participation in ECE, however, has been proven to increase high school graduation rates, improve performance on standardized tests, and reduce both grade repetition and the number of children placed in special education.
In the end, I wish you all a very good luck and also look forward for this endeavor to effectively coordinate with our E-9 Parwan center in AEPAM in my Ministry, said the Minister. I wish you all a very good luck in your efforts.
Event was attended by the Governor Balochistan as a chief guest, Provincial Education Minister AJK, Education Advisor to CM Balochistan, Secretary Federal Education, Additional secretary Federal Education, Joint Education Advisor Federal Education, CEO Agha Khan Foundation, Vice Chairman Agha Khan Foundation, educationists, secretaries and representatives of provincial education ministries, and representatives of NGOs.
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