Pearl Continental Hotel, Karachi (Pakistan)

Pearl Continental Hotel, Karachi (Pakistan)

Right to Education &
Early Childhood Education
and Development:
Evidence from South Asia

September 16-17, 2014

Pearl Continental Hotel, Karachi (Pakistan)

Summary Highlights


Summary Highlights & Outcomes

A Regional Conference on “Right to Education and Early Childhood Education and Development: Evidence from South Asia” was held on September 16-17, 2014 in Karachi with over 200 participants from Pakistan and representatives from South Asia (India, Nepal and Bangladesh). The conference is embedded in ASER/RTE strand of ITA’s work where ASER reports on ECE age group 3-5 with policy papers (annex).

The conference was an advocacy event aligned to article 25 A , right to education and emerging global EFA /SDGs education goals and targets, where ECE/ECED is conceived within a lifelong learning cycle.

Idara-e-Taleem o Aagahi (ITA) and the Right to Education team cohosted the conference with the Education and Literacy Department (E&LD) Government of Sindh and the Reform Support Unit( RSU) as the technical arm of the E&LD. The leadership of the Government of Sindh stood firmly behind this endeavor; they were not only impeccable hosts but also champions for the cause of Early Childhood Care and Education in general and Early Childhood Education (ECE) in particular. The Senior Minister for Education Mr. Nisar Ahmed Khuro, the Additional Chief Secretary Education & Literacy, Dr. Fazal ullah Pechuho and the Chief Program Manager RSU Mrs. Saba Mahmud hosted the conference substantively, warmly welcoming all guests from Pakistan and South Asia.

Our friends and partners from the region India, Bangladesh and Nepal provided the regional perspectives. These included: Asia Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood Education (ARNEC) and Exec Director Ms. Junko Mayihara who provided technical knowledge at every stage; Dr. Venita Kaul, Director School of Education, Centre for Early Childhood Education and Development (CECED)
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University India; Ms. Purnima Ramanujan – ASER centre India; Dr. Renu Singh- Country Director Young Lives Ms. Sudheshna Sengupta- Mobile Creches- India, Mahmuda Akhter-Exec. Director, Institute of Child Human Development (ICHD) Dr. Shanta Dixit Rato Bangla Foundation Nepal

E&LD and ITA would like to express special gratitude to all Departments of Education from Balochistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkua, for their presentations and contributions as well as the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, ICT. Experts on ECE, Academia, CSOs, and INGOs active in the ECE space across Pakistan were present throughout the 2 days.

The conference was supported by: “The UK’s” Department for International Development (DFID); Foundation Open Society Institute - (FOSI); Dubai Cares and Oxfam

The outcome of the conference is the “ECED Karachi Consensus Statement September 17 2014” (attached) agreed to by all stakeholders/practitioners. It has 4 thematic areas: policy, curriculum and assessment, teacher preparation and innovations. The Statement will be extensively disseminated by many strategic partners across Pakistan and beyond as a reference document in the dialogues up to 2015 and in the post 2015-2030 period. The Government of Sindh E&LD is embarking on a full- fledged ECE Policy as committed to in the Karachi Consensus Statement and in SESP 2014-2018 as is Balochistan.

In September 2014 ITA’s Director Programs will be at the UN General Assembly and its side meetings where the ECED Karachi Consensus Statement will be shared widely as it will be in December 2014 at the ARNEC annual conference to be held in Manila where the CPM – RSU will also be representing the Government of Sind E&LD.


Early Childhood Education (ECE) and Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) have been an area of immense national, regional and global activism in the run up to 2015 and in the post 2015 development period. This is amply visible in the enactments under 25 A Right to Education as a fundamental constitutional right of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as it is under policy initiatives of various South Asian countries, viz. India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Globally the Muscat Statement (May 2014) and the final document of the Open Working Group (OWG) with proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In both landmark documents to be debated at the upcoming UN General Assembly in September 2014 in New York, ECE/ECCE has been earmarked as a distinct target within the overarching Education goal proposed in the Muscat and SDG documents:

Muscat: To Ensure Equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030”.

Goal No. 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all” [1]

Targets of ECE in the Muscat Agreement and proposed SDGs

Muscat Target 1: By 2030, at least x% of girls and boys are ready for primary school through participation in quality early childhood care and education, including at least one year of free and compulsory pre-primary education, with particular attention to gender equality and the most marginalized.

SDG Target No. 4.2: By 2030 ensure that all boys and girls have access to quality early childhood development (ECD), care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education [2]

Both sets of document are not only aligned but reinforce the ‘care, linkages and transition’ from preprimary to primary education of the young embedded in the lifelong learning cycle approach.

In South Asia ECCE/ECE /ECD has become mainstreamed in human resource development to meet not just the foundational milestone of learning readiness but also its inextricable linkage to support other goals in health (infant and maternal mortality), nutrition/stunting and parental care. India has already finalized its ECD Policy in 2012, whilst Bangladesh completed the process in 2013; steps are being taken elsewhere in Asia and South Asia to provide necessary policy, planning and budgetary attention to early years as a critical pillar for achieving the right to education. In Pakistan article 25 A has made not only education a fundamental right for children aged 5-16, but the ensuing legislation in the provinces has provisioned for ECE/ECCE to be part of the right to education obligation by the state. This was affirmed widely at the regional conference as well over the two days from September 16-17, 2014 in Karachi.

It is against this backdrop that the Regional Conference on “Right to Education and Early Childhood Education and Development: Evidence from South Asia” was hosted by a collaboration between Government and Civil Society institution ; viz. the Education and Literacy Department Government of Sindh and its technical arm Reform Support Unit(RSU) and the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), its Right to Education teams ; ITA is also the secretariat for the south Asia Forum for Education Development (SAFED) with outreach to countries of South Asia and networks in the Asian region. The Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC) collaborated technically with the hosts in Pakistan for the two day regional conference in Pakistan from September 16-17, 2014.

The Conference met with an overwhelming success with the Karachi Consensus Statement, September 17th, 2014 agreed to by over 200 participants from across Pakistan and the region.

The statement was the outcome of the proceedings of two days of intensive sharing of experiences by countries and provinces in Pakistan and of best practices of CSOs /INGOs. The statement is bold in suggesting actions for shifting the minimum threshold for ECCE/ECD from age 5 to 3, with special cadre of trained ECED Personnel and many other suggestions for resources committed to research and development.

The Karachi Consensus Statement requires that each country and province/state/area to develop a logical series of policy and action steps to implement various thematic areas of focus as practical measureable outputs and outcomes relevant to specific contexts.

The report of the Regional Conference covers the objectives; session brief summaries, working groups and group leaders, s photographs, and media coverage

Objectives of the Conference:

The main purpose of this conference was to upgrade the ECE/ECED profile in education initiatives - policy, standards, teacher education and training and, implementation integral to the right to education (RTE) movement encompassed in Article 25-A of the constitution in Pakistan and all South Asian countries.

To bring together a range of diverse stakeholders from the country and the region to debate and propose holistic and coherent solutions for ECE /ECCE program implementation

To underscore the critical positioning of ECE/ECED as a cross cutting multi-sectoral goal to meet multiple indicators in the Post 2015 Development Agenda (Child /Maternal Health/Nutrition/Poverty etc).

To mobilize regional collaboration and create a South Asian/Asia Pacific Learning and Research Platform for ECE/ECED supported by ARNEC, CECED, SAFED, PLAN, UNICEF, UNESCO, OSF and other organizations to enable cooperation for ECED,ECD/ECE across borders.

Expected Outcomes of the Regional Conference

Expected outcomes: Help participants to:

  • Improve understanding of ECE/ECED as a comprehensive learning and development agenda
  • Share national and regional best practices in this sub-sector with respect to curriculum, assessment teacher preparation and implementation arrangements
  • Explore policy and institutional arrangements for ECED at provincial, national and regional levels
  • Learn from and network with the best practitioners, leaders, experts and policy makers
  • Agree on a comprehensive ECED Karachi Consensus Statement for the conference


The inaugural session was moderated by Dr. Bernadette Dean, Director, Valy Muhammad Institute for Education (VMIE). The Chief Guest was Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Senior Minister for Education, Government of Sindh and Dr. Fazalullah Pechuho, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), E&LD, Government of Sindh was the special guest Dr. Ghazala Rafique, presented the keynote address followed by Baela Raza Jamil on post 2015 implications. Ms. Saba Mahmood, Chief Program Manager, RSU, E&LD, Government of Sindh welcomed the honorable guests sharing the bold steps taken by the Govt. of Sindh for ECE in its recently approved Education Sector Plan supported by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), World Bank, European Union and other supporters.

The Chief Guest for the Closing session was Dr. Fazalullah Pechuho, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), E&LD, and Government of Sindh. The session was also addressed by Mr. Saeed ul Hassan, Nargis Sultana OSF and Ms. Saba Mahmood, Chief Program Manager; RSU thanked all participants for their active engagement throughout the two days. The closing session shared the Karachi Consensus Statement which was accepted in principle subject to some corrections and bolder terminology demonstrating the commitment of the government to ECCE as fundamental bedrock of learning and human development

The program was designed to cover themes across two days in the following areas:

Day 1:

1. Inaugural

2. Policy and Right to Education (RTE) Status of Early Childhood Education

3. Curriculum and Standards

4. Teacher Preparation (Pre-In Service)

5. Formation of Groups

Day 2:

1. Research and Assessment

2. Innovations: Access, Parenting and Materials

3. Group Work

4. Concluding session and Declaration of the ECED Karachi Consensus Statement

All presentations and process documents on ECE/ECED are available on the website:

ASER Policy Brief Booklet on ECE, as circulated in the conference, is available at:

ECED Karachi Consensus Statement September 17 2014

The Education and Literacy Department (E&LD), Reform Support Unit (RSU) Government of Sindh Pakistan, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) and the South Asia Forum for Education Development (SAFED) in collaboration with its development partners (Foundation Open Society Institute –FOSI, Pakistan; Dubai Cares; “The UK’s” Department for International Development (DFID) and Oxfam ) convened the regional conference on the Right to Education & Early Childhood Education and Development; Foundation for Quality Learning-Evidence from South Asia- in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan from September 16-17, 2014. The conference was attended by 200 senior government officers from across Pakistan, practitioners, policy makers, academics, civil society organizations and development partners from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal

Recognizing, ECE/ECCE/ECED[3] as a comprehensive learning and multi-sectoral agenda for all children (0-8 years) within diverse contexts and multiple models of ECED in South Asia,

Acknowledging, its uneven presence in RTE laws, budgets and policies, the, ECED Karachi Consensus Statement September 17, 2014 covers 09 key principles, 48 recommendations and actions for five key thematic areas that must be considered by each South Asian government, stakeholders, and the UN General Assembly (UNGA)’s 69thSession- September 16 to 26, 2014 to improve the capabilities of young children, reduce inequalities, and promote inclusive social and economic development in South Asia.

There are Nine Proposed Guiding Principles for the ECED Karachi Consensus Statement:

  1. ECED be envisaged as an integrated approach to facilitate the holistic development of children aged 0-8 through health, nutrition, education, care and community support.
  2. Universal coverage of ECED founded on a rights based approach
  3. Embedded in equity and inclusion
  4. Customized to national and sub-national contexts responsive to diversity and gender
  5. Encourage and test models of ECED in South Asia for effectiveness and scalability
  6. Backed by innovative approaches and innovative financing
  7. Monitored by robust data for accountability and evidence
  8. Supported by partnerships with public, private sector, academia and civil society
  9. Linkages of ECED with all SDGs be pursued for bundled approaches and optimum gains

Key Actions/Recommendations

Key Actions/Recommendations (42) for the five thematic areas are

1.ECED- Policy and Right to Education (RTE)

1.1.Amendments to the RTE laws be made to include the ECED age group

1.2.A specialized cadre of teachers/care givers must be created with appropriate pay scales and qualifications specified

1.3.A common policy inclusive of fundamental principles of ECED to be developed for age group 0-8 or 3-8 according to developmentally appropriate practices

1.4.For holistic integrated ECED, inter-sectoral government coordination must be ensured

1.5.Budget for education must be enhanced to 4-6% of GDP ensuring consistent ECED allocation through schools, institutional and community based programs

1.6.Mother tongue must be encouraged for ECED age groups where appropriate with second/third languages support through appropriate content and trained personnel

1.7.Adequate attention to marginalized/disadvantaged groups (living in extreme poverty, remote areas, minorities and indigenous communities, children with disabilities, children in conflicts, displacement and disaster situations, etc).

1.8.A comprehensive communication strategy be developed to reach all stakeholders

1.9.Under the proposed EFA target No. 1 (Muscat Agreement), “at least one year of free and compulsory pre-primary education” must be changed from “ at least one year to one to five years” as many countries already practicing an expanded ECED program

1.10.For the proposed OWG/SDGs Goal No. 4, target 4.2 on ECED must be shifted as target 4.1 for sequence, progression and linkage with primary and secondary education

1.11.Monitoring and evaluation of ECCD policy, programs and models must be based on clear definitions, standards, indicators and measures for quality programming, accreditation and implementation regulated by public and private representatives.

1.12.Public funding for ECED must support economic constraints of marginalized groups through social safety nets

1.13.Form a South Asian ECED network – of thinkers, practitioners and activists linked to other regional and global networks

2.ECED Curriculum and Standards

2.1.The ECE and Primary Curriculum be reviewed for systemic linkages, ensuring it is developmentally appropriate, contextually relevant and culturally sensitive.

2.2.Determine quality standards such as child/teacher ratio, number of hours of care/ schooling for different age groups, curriculum standards and benchmarks at ages 3, 8 and 10 for all broad domains: cognitive; socio-emotional; moral/spiritual and physical as well as parenting and community involvement, teaching/ learning approaches, care and coordination among multiple actors/departments.

2.3.Holistic learning and development, outcome standards (e.g. early learning and development outcome standards, EAP-ECD Scales) must be contextualized and aligned with existing policies and curricular standards and benchmarks.

2.4.Remedial decentralized support be extended where standards are not met

2.5.A variety of developmentally appropriate teaching/learning materials based on from the learning outcomes related to all domains should be ensured in all ECED centers.

2.6.Ensure timely dissemination and access of curriculum, resource guides and teaching learning materials in relevant languages to stakeholders (teachers, head teachers, parents, care givers, education and monitoring institutions)

2.7.A review after every 3 years of the ECE/ECED curriculum to be conducted based on research evidence.

3.ECED - Teacher Preparation

3.1.All pre service and in service teachers/care giver education programs should prepare teachers to meet the ECED Curriculum and Care standards

3.2.Only qualified teachers (2 years and/or ideally 4 years of professional development- through flexi programs following higher secondary education Gr XII), care givers and heads having qualifications in ECED should be appointed.

3.3.A separate cadre and career ladder with specific qualification for ECED teachers and care givers be developed within the public services framework with minimum pay scales for providers from all sectors (public and private)

3.4.A Teacher-Education curriculum is designed for ECED teachers and care givers which prepare them to meet the professional development standards.

3.5.ECED Centers and Classrooms should have minimum learning materials, safe standards and be provided with recurring budgets for meeting continuous needs.

3.6.A monitoring and mentoring mechanism for ECED teachers be developed to ensure curriculum standards are being met and professional support is present.