On Saturday, 31 May, we finally held the seminar we had been planning for such a long time, to share the findings of our ECE longitudinal research study. We had planned a two-day national seminar last year, but had to postpone when funding was withdrawn owing to imposition of emergency. It is ironic that we had presented this study in Reykjavi Iceland, at the European Early Childhood Education Research Association in 2006, and had to wait until 2008 to present in Pakistan.

We then waited for elections, so that elected members would be in place in the Education Department. We were so excited when the EDO, Ms. Fakhar Karim Siddiqui, who was the chief guest, agreed to give us her total support for a working group to promote quality ECE in the public sector.

Mr. Lila Ram representing TRC, presented the findings of the study; he was followed by Mr. Jesrani Manohar Lal, Director Literacy and Non-Formal Education Department who reported on successes and challenges of ECE in Sindh. Ms. Syeda Naushaba Muslim, ADOE, Gulberg Town shared her experiences in promoting and implementing ECE in her area, highlighting time constraints, logistics, a lack of appropriate tools, teacher turnover and limited skills in ECE, as challenges. Commenting on the promotion of ECE community involvement, Ms. Shamim Akhtar, elected representative/Chairperson of the Education Committee for Karachi, encouraged ECE leaders to seek out parents and other community leaders to promote awareness regarding ECE through engagement in preparation of materials, dialoguing with children and making institutional ideas accessible.

One of the highlights of the day, was a panel discussion involving some of the teachers who were part of the project. They discussed and answered questions enthusiastically, about how they went about implementing their learning from the workshops they attended at TRC. The challenges were many, but the positive responses from the children they worked with, their parents and all concerned spurred them on. They certainly succeeded in shattering the stereotypes of substandard education generally associated with government schools. The audience, consisting of stakeholders from the public and private sectors, were inspired by their energy and commitment.
You can download the report here: http://trconline.org/?cat=16
Update: It was not to be … two days later, Karachi had a new EDO Education!