Creation of ECCD Forum: Chakwal, Pakistan
- Project Completion Report
- Plan Pakistan
The World Forum Foundation is incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the state of Washington, USA. The purpose of the foundation is to promote an ongoing exchange of ideas among early childhood professionals in all nations of the world on the diversity of the quality development and educational services for young children and their families. This sharing of view points is intended to promote and create understanding across cultures and to increase the likelihood that children in all settings have access to a full range of life experiences.
PLAN Pakistan participated in the Seventh World Forum Conference held in Kaula Lumpur (Malaysia) on May 15-18 2007. The participation in the conference was as one of global leaders for young children with the belief in sharing and learning. Global leaders for young children initiative is one of the most important change agents of the World Forum Foundation and was launched in Belfast (Ireland) in 2004.To date mentoring and trainings have been provided to 55 emerging leaders from 30 countries. The mission of global leaders initiatives is to improve the life chances of young children by developing early childhood leaders who can become effective change agents and advocate for quality early childhood development services in their home countries.
Considering the aforementioned, the a project was designed which aimed at having “a forum about ECCD by inviting people who are doing similar work and to create goals and devise a working plan”.
Goals and Rationale of the Project
Pakistan is passing through a transitional period in terms of education. Lack of educational facilities, untrained teachers, very limited budget, poverty, and unawareness of the general masses are the main hindrances to increasing the prevalent low literacy rate. As for as pre-schools are concerned, the public sector, in particular, is lagging far behind. The people are unaware about the objectives and usefulness of the early childhood care and development (ECCD).There are some private institutions, NGOs and INGOs that are working and promoting the ECCD concept in Pakistan. However, there is no proper structure of ECCD in Pakistan. Even the organizations and institutions that are involved in this process have no strong linkages among themselves. They are working individually and in isolation. In order to promote the ECCD concept and to develop linkages and strong coordination, a forum was required so that the stakeholders can work together to create awareness about ECCD in general masses.
A forum was thus established in Chakwal and linkages were developed among those institutions, NGOs, INGOs and government officials that were engaged in early childhood development so that a joint strategy could be developed to promote the ECCD concept collectively. A very active organization called Development Initiative Network (DIN), which is a network of various community-based organizations, was also taken aboard.
The project was initially designed for district Mansehra (and for later extension to other areas), however due to a terrorist attach on the office of Plan Pakistan in the district, the project was shifted to district Chakwal with the consent of the WFF.
Introduction of DIN (Development Initiative Net work)
DIN is a network of forty five (45) local organizations at village level in district Chakwal. This is the only network in district Chakwal which is the representative of the people of Chakwal and its members are volunteers. The vision of DIN is “a society where all the people get equal opportunities, social wellbeing, and secure and ensured fundamental rights.” One of the most important objectives of DIN is working for the rights of children and their education specially.
ECCD Forum Meeting
As mentioned before, the ECCD Forum was to be launched in District Mansehra but due to a security incident, it had to be shifted to Chakwal. It was decided by Plan Pakistan that the project should be initiated in Chakwal through DIN because the members of DIN were also well aware of the ECCD concept and its implementation. The ECCD program of Plan Pakistan Chakwal Unit was already operational in the communities whose local organizations were the members of DIN.
The first meeting with DIN regarding ECCD Forum was held on May 25, 2008 in Chakwal. Almost all the members of DIN were present in the meeting. The idea was shared with them in detail and they welcomed the idea and agreed to form an ECCD forum in Chakwal. The first meeting was introductory and then the whole program was shared along with the methodology. A second meeting was also held with them the names of persons who will work in the ECCD Forum were given by them. It was decided to conduct a capacity building workshop of the ECCD forum. The capacity building workshop was held on August 10, 2008 in which the participants actively participated.
The meeting was held in Sarban (a CSO) office. The main purpose of the meeting was to build the capacity for the ECCD forum. A brainstorming session was conducted amongst the members before the launch of the forum. ECCD Supervisor of Plan Pakistan (PU Chakwal) conducted the session in detail. All the participants took keen interest in the session. They were briefed that the ECCD included all the supports necessary for every child to realize his/her right to survival, to protection, and to care that would ensure optimal development from birth to the age of eight. Early Childhood Care for Development (ECCD) is about meeting the child’s multiple needs by taking into account health, nutrition, and psycho-social stimulation, while at the same time strengthening the environments in which children live. It was observed during the discussion that most of the people thought that Early Childhood Care for Development was the same as a pre-school. However, a major rationale for ECCD programs is to prepare children for primary school. One of the major outcomes of the ECCD programs is that they can help children to be more successful in school as the early years are a crucial phase of human development and NOT merely preparation for later years. There were sessions on child development and a planning for ECCD seminars.
The next phase was planning of ECCD Seminar.
It was decided to invite all the CSOs, Education department, other government officials, caregivers, Plan partner organizations, reputed private and public schools in the seminar. Besides this since it is an advocacy program therefore local print and electronic media will be invited?
All the participants unanimously decided the date of seminar to be August 28, 2008.The venue selected was a local press club. All the members of ECCD Forum took part in the preparation but unfortunately on August 27, 2008 we had to postpone the seminar due to security concerns in Chakwal. Later on the ECCD Forum met again to jointly decided to hold the seminar on October 29, 2008.
Objectives of the Seminar
- Enhance the importance of ECCD Seminars
- To develop awareness about ECCD
- To engage all the stake holders in the ECCD program
The seminar was held on October 29, 2008 in Officer Club, Chakwal. In the seminar, all the CSOs including SARBAN, SABAWON, MIED, RAST, BEDARI, MMH, Muslim Aid, SACHET DIN, PODA, Roshni, and Paiman participated. Khursheed School, Educator school also participated. The officials of education department, literacy department and representatives of local news papers and electronic media participated. Besides this representative of local CBOs and care givers also participated.
Plan Pakistan shed light on the objectives of the ECCD program and how Plan Pakistan was successful in making useful contributions through its ECCD-based projects. Plan Pakistan also emphasized the need for further strong linkages with the education department.
The representative of the education department informed that although ECCD program was part of the government policy but it had not been initiated yet. He also said that Plan Pakistan was the only organization in Chakwal which was engaged in this program and the department was ready to offer support. He also said that he would advocate the idea in meetings and other government officials.
Other participants, including an ECCD specialist, shared their experience and knowledge of the ECCD programmes and made suggestions. Children of ECCD centres in Chakwal made a performance to the delight of every one present.
- Substantial lack of awareness regarding ECCD
- Security concerns to hold such big gatherings
- Little recognition of the ECCD by the government.
The Bottom Line
The project (creation of ECCD forum) remains a success in terms of raising awareness about ECCD programmes and involving stakeholders in ECCD to share their views and experience through their participation in the ECCD meetings and seminars arranged by Plan Pakistan. Plan Pakistan now has a good network and a stronger foundation to build on.