Jyry Virtanen via web
During 2016, sustainability and upscaling of Early Childhood Education interventions in Punjab and Sindh Provinces were the major areas the project focused on.
The District Government and District Education Department Muzaffargarh District in Pujab Province established 100 additional ECE centres in April 2016 at public schools through public-private partnerships with the support of Plan. The Provincial Government of Punjab is also committed for the promotion of ECE, and is taking steps forward through Directorate of Staff Development (DSD) for establishment of 10, 000 more ECE centres till 2018. In this regard, Plan has extended technical and financial support to DSD, including but not limited to finalization and printing of “ECE teacher’s guide” as well as training of 163 Master Trainers (W: 99, M: 64) in December 2016 for the smooth establishment of the new ECE centres in Punjab Province, of which 5,000 should be operational by March 2017.
In Sindh Province, ECE Policy has been formally approved and notified by the Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh. Plan Pakistan supported the policy formulation process and is committed to extend support to printing of the policy document and for the launching ceremony. A five-day international exposure visit for Sri Lanka was arranged by Plan International Pakistan for the Provincial education department colleagues in order to familiarise with the Sri Lankan Home Based ECCD Model for 0-3 year-old children, and to replicate a similar approach in Sindh province adapted to local context.
During the reporting period the project conducted 419 parents meetings and social mobilization sessions. Total 7678 parents (Women 5299 and Men 2379) participated in these sessions. In Muzarffargarh district, meetings of School Councils (SCs) were conducted regularly with the participation of 895 (men 493 and women 402) parents. During these meetings parents actively involved and addressed the routine issues of ECE on priority basis.
The project target directly two socially excluded communities, Mallah and Jogi, to implement a pilot component for home based advice and care for children from 0 to 3 years old with an aim to reduce future social exclusion. Community health volunteers have been selected and trained to implement activities that include neonatal and post-natal training and counselling to improve health and nutritional diet of young children and awareness raising activities in the communities have been initiated at the last quarter of 2016. Older children have been able to join ECCD centers for the first time.
The District and Provincial Governments in both of the project regions have demonstrated a high level of interest and appropriation on the early childhood education, and the structure of the project has been reformulated from being a service provider towards providing technical assistance to local and district authorities. However, this structural change did delay the implementation of some of the project components, and for example the pilot component directed to 0-3 years-old started only in the last quarter of 2016.
In Muzaffargarh District, privatization of existing public schools resulted in more than 20 schools where ECE centers were already running with the support of Plan to be transferred to the management of local organizations. Plan restarted from the beginning in new localities with selection of caregivers and enrollment of new 3-5 years children.
High level of rotation of the caregivers in ECE centers Plan is supporting has been one of the challenges. Trained caregivers leave the ECE centres for example due to early marriages, low honorarium or continuation of studies.