SHAZIA IRAM - Education is a systematic process of establishing the pillar of the society. It plays a very important role in the progress of any country around the world. Early Childhood Education (ECE) is a branch of education theory which relates to the teaching of young children (formally and informally) up till the age of about eight years. Its time of remarkable brain growth, these years lay the foundation for subsequent learning and development. People in the 6th largest country of the world are unable to get the basic education.

Various researches have proved that first few years of life are particularly important for the development of the child. Development of all domains and learning occur faster in these years than that of any other part of the life. The main challenging to the implementation of ECE in Pakistan is that the negative impact of limited access to education and its poor quality is disproportionately born by poor and marginalised children as well as families surviving in poverty tend to focus on keeping fed; rather than education. Other developmental domains such as psycho-social, emotional and physical skill are mostly neglected. Same as, early years are significantly important for cognitive abilities and the development of the brain capacity of a child as well.

Pre-school and child care centers play very important role in promoting the social and intellectual development of children. Moreover, through early childhood education child can easily develop his interpersonal skills through his interaction and the particular environment.

The most striking feature of Pakistan’s primary education system is its inherent inequalities. The ratio of gender discrimination is a cause which is projecting the primary school ratio of boys & girls which is 10:4 respectively. For the last few years there has been an increase in the growth of private schools that not only harms the quality of education but creates a gap among haves and have-not. The educational system of Pakistan is based on unequal lines. Medium of education is different in both, public and private sectors. This creates a sort of disparity among people, dividing them into two segments. One division is on the basis of English-medium language while the other is Urdu-medium language.

With a net primary enrolment rate of 57pc, there are an estimates 7 millions primary aged children are out-of school, mostly due to non–existence of school (as some live in remote or far-flung area), absence of teacher and/or learning material or other reasons of the children who do not attend school, given that most (63pc) of the population living in rural area in relatively modest condition, but do not obtained quality education.

As a result of statistical analysis overall in Pakistan still over 27 million children out of school, pre-primary age group (3-5 years) 50pc children of Punjab out of the school, in Balochistan the ratio of out of school children is 78pc, in Sindh 61pc, in KP 65pc children are still out of school. Overall literacy rate of Pakistan is 54pc in which 66.25pc male and 41.74pc are female.

According the report of UNESCO in 2014, Pakistan has the second highest (after Nigeria) population of out-of-school children in the world, with almost five and half million school-aged children not accessing to school and 72pc of school-aged children enroll in school. This is an improvement compared to two decades ago, when only 58pc of children enrolled in school. One of key goals of the Education For All deceleration is for countries to achieve a primary enrollment target of at least 95pc by 2015. While Pakistan is rated as very far from target (with an enrollment rate below 80pc), it is also rated as having relatively strong progress over the last two decades.(UNESCO, 2014)

Research has shown that if the healthy environment is provided to the children, they can learn at faster pace. Teachers play important role in the whole process. They must be familiarise and should have sound qualification to fulfill learning needs of children. If teachers are familiarised with the principles of love, kindness and care, they can easily teach students at primary level with the help of different pedagogies. However, professionally more trained people can educate the people to build a good nation. The allocation of funds for education is very low. It is only 1.5 to 2.0 percent of the total GDP. It should be around 7pc of the total GDP. We should follow the example of Malaysian government which earmarks about 35 percent of its GDP to education sector. We need to push for greater public investment in education in Pakistan.

(The writer is student of MPhil Special Education, UMT).