Early Childhood Development: Steppingstone for a Strong Nation

By Salma Ali 

Modern research confirms that learning begins from the time of a child’s conception. A child from his birth needs to get knowledge, skills and attitudes using his perceptions. Normally information and facts that are informal knowledge can be obtained by a child from parents, grand-parents and the surrounding environment. But formal knowledge can be learned at school besides home and environment. In this period the child learns basic and important skills which forms the base and lays the foundation of a child’s growth and development.  If at this stage parents, family members and teachers use different strategies and provide stimulating environment, they can help the child develop holistically. That is why it becomes important to assure quality for early childhood education; to make stronger the foundation of a child and future nation.

Twentieth century is marked as the era of child exploration.  During this era child head, heart and hands were focused and explored through different research and experiments with the conclusion that it is the early years that shapes the later life of a person. To make a successful child and nation, early years (0-8) are the benchmarks.

Neuroscience discoveries and contemporary research has changed the thinking horizons of early childhood development. The contemporary research emphasizes on the importance of early years in child’s learning and development under equal contribution of home, school and societies where children live. Therefore, early childhood development is one of the top priorities of educational world. Different countries invest substantial amount of their budget for the new initiatives and quality improvements of early childhood development and education.

Pakistan is committed to achieve the goal of education for all under article 25-A. Government of Pakistan in collaboration with civil society organizations strive to reach the unreached children through awareness campaigns and different projects. However, still majority of the parents and societies are unaware and unskillful regarding early years. Hence, most of the children in Pakistan are unable to reach their potential, explore their inner competencies so to contribute in societal change.

Realizing the crucial role of early years, Hashoo Foundation since 2004 is playing its role in early childhood development through teachers training programs, workshops, seminars and parents awareness sessions in different parts of Pakistan, particularly in, Rawalpindi, Murree, Abbottabad, Chitral and Gilgit.

Schweinhart, Barnes, & Weikart, (1993) has revealed that specialized training improves the pedagogical competencies of teachers in ECE settings, including their professional attitude, knowledge, and skills. This is what the endeavor of Hashoo Hunar Association ECD program is all about. Hashoo Hunar Association through its qualified and experienced staff has trained 7,239 potential young women in early childhood development who are contributing in this area in the capacities as teachers, Educators, ECD Entrepreneurs etc. Hashoo Hunar Association also provided technical support and guidance to its ECD graduates in establishing small ECD-based enterprises in far flung rural areas across the country since 2011.

HF ECD program has a unique curriculum designed for teachers’ holistic development which ultimately contributes in children’s overall development. The trainees of Hashoo Foundation have been receiving job offers in reputed schools. Besides that, the schools also admire and appreciate HF efforts and contributions in the area of ECD&E.

Investing in young children is an essential component for the development of a nation economy. Early opportunities for learning in combination with improved educational opportunities and nutrition, increases the child participation in school and make him/her an adult with higher income, better health, impact the society positively with lower crime rates and lower levels of welfare dependence.

Keeping in view the above facts, Hashoo Trust (HT) has taken a step to intervene in early childhood to create an enabling environment for early childhood development through building capacity of young teachers, parents and caregivers in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. Hahoo Trust aims to facilitate each child to reach his or her potential and become a productive part of the rapidly changing, global society.

Changed practices in early childhood is a dire need of our Country for change. Let’s join hands and be the slogan of change.

The contributor is an Assistant Manager (ECD) at the Hashoo Hunar Association. 

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