On April 29 and 30, the Ministry of Education (MoE) and UNICEF held a Training and Consultation Meeting to discuss Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS) in Pakistan. The meeting was held at TRC on the insistence of the MoE and UNICEF, owing to TRC’s long-standing contributions to ECE, policy making and public-private collaborations. Members of various public and private organizations working in the field of education attended. From TRC, Amima Sayeed and Nida Alavi participated.

The intended purpose of ELDS is to formulate standards which can establish measurable objectives for the learning and development of children. A few months ago, representatives of the MoE and UNICEF traveled to Nepal to collaborate with regional stakeholders followed by meetings across Pakistan. ELDS, is a global initiative, currently being addressed at a regional level with country specific standards being drafted; these were discussed at the meeting.

Over the two days, facilitators of the ELDS initiative shared the background of ELDS and information about ECE policy, programmes and statistics in Pakistan. Their intention was also to engender more sensitivity and therefore advocacy for ECE. They also presented some basic information about the National Curriculum for ECE (which TRC was instrumental in authoring). Following some detail about the design and content of ELDS, on Day 2, participants were divided into groups and each group given a specific competency of the document to examine. Competency-specific comments were shared in a collective feedback session, with a brief concluding note from the facilitators on the future course of action for ELDS.

Unfortunately, proceedings were hampered by unrest in Karachi on April 29, which resulted in reduced attendance on April 30. However, the meeting did go on and one hopes that future public-private initiatives are not further jeopardized by the uncertain times we live in.