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General News

DFID EDUCATION POLICY 2018: GET CHILDREN LEARNING

DFID calls for action to tackle the learning crisis; prioritising effective teaching and education systems, and renewed focus on poor and marginalised children.

Education is a human right which unlocks individual potential and benefits all of society, powering sustainable development. Developing countries have expanded schooling at an impressive rate in recent decades but there is an urgent need to drive up quality and learning. Business as usual will not deliver the transformational change that is needed.

DFID’s new education policy calls for a united effort by global and national leaders to address the learning crisis and ensure poor and marginalised children - who face the greatest challenges - are not left behind. Our response is to tackle the learning crisis at its root; getting children to learn the basics of literacy and numeracy, as well as transferable skills. We will focus on three priorities:

  • invest in good teaching: support decision-makers ready to take a fresh look at teacher training, recruitment and motivation to tackle the huge shortfall in skilled and motivated teachers

  • back system reform which delivers results in the classroom: help teachers to succeed by making education systems more accountable, effective and inclusive, supported by UK expertise

  • step up targeted support to the most marginalised: ensure they benefit from education, particularly hard-to-reach girls, children with disabilities and those affected by conflict and crisis

We will drive this ambitious agenda forward through strong leadership on the world stage; using UK influence to shine a light on the needs of the world’s most marginalised children and calling for global action to end violence in schools. We will expand our investment in high quality education research to ensure our, and others, investments are based on robust evidence.

Documnet:DFID Education Policy: Get Children Learning

ITA presented at the Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF) 2018

ITA presented at the Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF) 2018,
during the segment on the Global Education EcoSystem - the call to action for the accelerated learning program - chalo parho barho (let’s learn and grow) as a vibrant example of global learning and sharing infrastructure (GL&SI).

ITA co-chaired with REAL Centre at the Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF) 2018 the Alliance on Assessment for Learning, sharing four case studies including, the Literacy & Numeracy Drive (LND) Initaitive from Punjab Pakistan designed by the Punjab Information Technology Board(PITB) for the School Education Department (SED). LND aims to capture learning improvements at the lower primary level (Grade 3). PITB works with 250 such smart-monitoring initiatives. Their value proposition is: simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and proof-at-scale and they follow the digital principles

Baela Raza Jamil –CEO ITA and Commissioner-Education Commission was present at the launch of the Workforce Initiative by the Education Commission's team on March 18, 2018 at the Global Education Skills Forum (GESF) 2018

Building Partnerships in Pakistan: Meeting the learning needs of vulnerable children through interdependency

Written by Baela Raza Jamil & Saba Saeed from (Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi) ITA

Abstract


Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 is ambitious and tests national governments' capacity to address human development challenges, such as access to quality education. Collaborative initiatives that leverage the capacity of diverse stakeholders will be essential to meet the education and learning needs of the world's children, particularly the most vulnerable. Teaching at the Right Level in Pakistan is a cooperative example characterized by Education Diplomacy principles of community-based participation, partnership, and sustainability that supports the potential of every child.

Limited access to education and little or no learning in schools are at the heart of the challenge facing the education sector around the world. For several decades, education systems and approaches, especially in low- and middle-income countries, have focused on universal primary enrollment and schooling for all. However, getting children into schools is only half the battle. The bigger challenge is ensuring that a child's time in school leads to relevant and effective learning outcomes. The World Development Report 2018 emphasizes that “schooling is not the same as learning.” Indeed, the 262 million children1
1 http://uis.unesco.org/en/news/6-out-10-children-and-adolescents-are-not-learning-minimum-reading-and-math
View all notes
who are attending primary school and yet are unable to read proficiently is strong evidence of this learning crisis and children's needs being underserved.

The increased emphasis on “inclusive and quality education for all,” a commitment globally adopted as Goal 4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has led to educators seeking multi-sectoral partnerships and collaborations to focus on providing quality education. There is an overwhelming demand for programs and services to address the education crisis, and it cannot be met with stand-alone programs or by private sector, NGOs, or governments working alone. Strategic diplomatic cooperation among diverse stakeholders has become critical to propel societies and nations toward a path that is stable and resilient. Partnerships in education have become a strategic arm to support countries in adopting a systems approach to strengthen education processes and improve learning. Effective partnerships help to align the capacity of system actors to collaboratively close the learning gap, while working within the country constraints. The Taormina Progress Report: Investing in Education for Mutual Prosperity, Peace and Development, released recently by G7 Accountability Working Group, also recognizes the urgency for governments and all actors of change to work together for sustainable and shared prosperity.

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The “Teaching at the Right Level” (TaRL) approach navigates this constructive model of Education Diplomacy to address the learning needs of out-of-school children and vulnerable groups. In several low- and low middle-income countries, an unacceptably large number of children are not learning. According to the data estimates by UNESCO Institute for Statistics,2 2 http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/NOcuHXhNXENgk9wTssYvLM/A-learning-crisis-in-the-developing-world.html View all notes about 88% of children in sub-Saharan Africa are not able to read properly or do simple math by the time they finish middle school. South and central Asia comes a close second, with 81% of children in the region not learning the basic minimum. The World Development Report 2018, released by the World Bank, calls this crisis a “moral crisis” rather than a “learning crisis,” as inequalities between and within countries continue multiplying.

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The context in Pakistan is no different, where recent evidence from the citizen-led Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and government-led initiatives reveals that even after five years of schooling, more than half the children in grade 5 cannot read a sentence in English fluently. Even in upper primary grades, significant proportions of children struggle with basic tasks like reading, comprehension, and basic number knowledge or operations. The constitution, state legislations, and policy reforms, such as Article 25-A, which guarantees free and compulsory education for all children between 5-16 years of age, has provided impetus. However, the focus on quality remains compromised and implementation is delayed. The government has been increasingly vocal in acknowledging openly its inability to cope with human development challenges. Thus, it is not surprising that the last couple of years have seen the government mobilizing partnerships and coalitions with diverse stakeholders (development partners, civil society, philanthropists, industries and corporate sector, community, families, etc.) as a means of bridging governance and resource gaps in addressing the educational needs of children and adults for the 21st century and beyond.

TaRL, launched by Pratham India in 2007, is an example of such programs (implemented in Pakistan and beyond), employing an effective approach to building partnerships between government, schools, and communities that helps out-of-school children to gain basic literacy and numeracy skills in a short period of time and at relatively low cost. Rigorously evaluated and found to be effective for both school-based and community-based interventions, the approach has successfully expanded over the years into many South Asian and sub-Saharan African countries.

Implemented in Pakistan by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi and supported by Dubai Cares over a period of three years (January 2014-December 2016), this program was conceptualized as a targeted program to address the twin challenges of access and learning for the most vulnerable and marginalized children, particularly those who have never had access to formal schooling and are facing multiple challenges of isolation and marginalization. The goal is to help put out-of-school children into school and provide intensive bursts of remedial education in reading and mathematics through learning camps called “Chalo Parho Barho” (Let's read and grow) for out-of-school children and primary school children (grades 3–5) who are behind in basic literacy and numeracy skills.

The program begins with testing of children (ages 6-12) at the household level. Based on this assessment, children are selected for learning camps to be set up at the identified schools during regular school times. In-school children at risk of dropping out (grades 3-5) also take part in the camp. Children are grouped by ability rather than by age and grade, and the camps use Pratham's rigorously evaluated TaRL methodology and their “Combined Activities for Maximized Learning” (CAMaL) pedagogy. Teaching and learning activities and materials are tailored to each group, are interactive and group based, and are designed to help children move to the next level. Teachers conduct the learning camps in two sessions: whole-class activities where children watch, listen, or talk about what they have seen or heard followed by small-group activities in language and math. A quick one-on-one assessment of every child is undertaken every 15 days (baseline, midline, and endline) to determine the child's progress. Upon successful completion of the camp and acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills, children are mainstreamed into regular schools. The trajectory of mainstreamed children is robustly followed throughout the project span to counter any dropouts and report retention.

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Rooted in a community-driven approach, customized options are offered for targeted groups that are complex but simply executed; they are inclusive, protective, systems-oriented, and embedded into alliances for scalability and sustainability. The program relies on the support and engagement of parents, siblings, teachers, school management committees, and other members of the community to create stronger education systems that will benefit every child and support lasting change even after the funding cycle ends. Para teachers (one for each camp) from the local community, hired for a nominal honorarium, are trained to lead the learning camps and mobilize community engagement. From the very onset of the program, the model is reviewed with the government to align with quality targets. Being an open source tool, it can be accessed by anyone within and beyond the borders for mutual sustainability.

Education and learning today are not about primary education alone. The bar has been raised to 10-12 years of basic learning to equip students for a world we cannot even imagine! Education and interdependence lies at the core of sustainable societies within and beyond national boundaries, and so new models of workforce development and diversification are needed. Such conceptualizations can only thrive on the principles of inclusion, gender equality/empowerment, simply executed solutions, and partnerships for mutual survival.

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Source: tandfonline

Child at the centre By Zubeida Mustafa

"Child at the centre"
By Zubeida Mustafa

Link: https://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=12_10_2018_009_001

To read or not by Zubeida Mustafa December 21, 2018

THE tenth annual What Kids are Reading Report released earlier this year in the UK got educationists worried. After surveying a million primary and secondary schoolchildren, the author of this document concluded that the country faced a persistent problem of getting young teenagers “to read challenging and age-appropriate books”.

It is now suggested that the secondary school pupils should benefit by having 15 to 30 minutes of time for independent reading integrated into the school curriculum.

For long, it has been believed that the axiom “practice makes perfect” could not hold true for anything more than literacy. The more you read the better your language skills become.

Where are Pakistan’s children on the reading scale? In the absence of professional and standardised surveys it is difficult to assess our children’s reading habits. But casual inquiries and random observation show that our children are not too excited by books. When we speak of the reading culture, what is really important is to determine how much and what people are reading in their leisure time for pleasure.

 

Where are Pakistan’s children on the reading scale?

Reading — actually memorising — textbooks is not what we mean by the book reading habit. That is what is lacking in Pakistan and it shows in the low intellectual calibre of our people and the poverty of our intelligentsia.

The poor literacy skills of our students also betray our negligence of the book culture. The last Annual Status of Education Report of 2016 revealed that only 52 per cent of children in Grade 5 could read a story of Grade 2 level in a local language. Tests for English reading skills for students of Grade 5 showed worse results. Only 46pc could read sentences in English designed for Grade 2.

Some critics feel that the reading habit cannot grow when good books are not being published. But even in this bleak scenario, once in a while one comes across a book for children that cheers the heart.

One example is the recently released bilingual book (in Urdu and English) titled Jingles in the Jungle. Written by Rumana Husain, the award-winning author of 60 books for children, Jingles is a lively account of animals and how they sing in their own ‘language’ and dance in harmony to inspire humans to create soul-soothing music. Elegantly illustrated — Rumana is a graphic designer too — this 20-page book would attract any young reader who gets to see it.

But just as one swallow does not a summer make, a single well-produced book does not create a book culture. So one may well ask, why can’t we have more such books and of course more advanced ones for older children? Moreover, Jingles costs a hefty Rs500. How many can buy books at this rate on a regular basis?

According to Sana Shahid, a manager at Paramount Books, the price of books is on the rise and selling books, whether for adults or children, is a mighty challenge. She adds that children are not reading many books.

In a class of 20, only five would be buying books on a regular basis to read and only one would go for a book in Urdu. Since the government has done little to lower the cost of paper and printing material, books are quite inaccessible.

It is a vicious cycle in which the publishing industry is trapped. Since there are not enough readers, the economy of scale does not work to force down the price of books. As books are costly, not many people want to buy them.

Of course, this vicious cycle can be broken by the intervention of the education authorities and the schools. The answer lies in creating a network of libraries all over the country. It must be made mandatory for every educational institution to have a library and hire a qualified librarian to manage it. A dedicated librarian can inspire every student to read books. But most schools don’t have a library. The few which have one don’t always employ a librarian and the books lie gathering dust on the shelves.

But the fact is that even the best of librarians cannot make a child read a book that she doesn’t enjoy. How does one ensure the readability of books for children? By getting writers and illustrators of high quality.

With such low print runs, no publisher can pay professional writers who should receive enough in monetary terms to subsist on it. Even most popular writers have had to work in other professions to earn their living. In Pakistan, one cannot be a full-time author and lead a decent life.

So the cycle goes on. This much is clear: our nation is being destroyed because people shun books. As parents and teachers do not read books they cannot make their children/students read either.

Pity the nation that does not read.

www.zubeidamustafa.com

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2018

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