Volume 11| April- June, 2021
Message from the Programme Director

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Greetings from PAFEC and Eid Mubarak in advance!

I hope you and your families are keeping well and are in high spirits. We are in the middle of 2021 and COVID-19 is still with us, it seems that the public is getting a bit fatigued of the health warnings and protocols, and we see fewer people with masks, especially children. You will agree with me that we are still not out of the woods and need to be vigilant, and follow science, listen to the authorities, especially as the risk of new variants has increased. Please get yourself and your families vaccinated, if not already done. Vaccine is the best protection that we have until this pandemic is fully behind us.

At PAFEC, as usual we continued to learn, adapt and share knowledge of ECD, parental education, and much more. During the review quarter, PAFEC launched two new initiatives: a series of webinars, covering the theory and practice of early childhood development through informed parenting and, the first online course for ECD practitioners, parents and caregivers, titled, Early Childhood Development -The Promise of Endless Opportunities. I am pleased to report that both these initiatives have been well received by the participants. You will find details about them in the newsletter under the news and updates. We will share participants’ reflections and insights about the course in the next quarter’s newsletter.

In addition to the news and updates, this newsletter also brings you some useful resources from UNICEF, Harvard about nurturing families, three key principles to improve outcomes of children and families, building babies brains through play, virtual coaching to caregivers and parents to support their children in the face of the pandemic and much more.

Happy Reading and Stay Safe!

Thank you
Khadija Khan
The online certificate course on Early Childhood Development – The Promise of Endless Opportunities, was launched on June 15, 2021, as part of Pakistan Alliance for Early Childhood’s ECD workforce development. Around 100 participants, including students and faculty members from partner universities (Fatima Jinnah Women University, Allama Iqbal Open University, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University and Sukkur IBA University, University of Abdul Wali Khan, University of Haripur, and the Federal College of Education, Islamabad) and some individual ECD practitioners have joined the course. The introductory session began with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran, followed by a cake cutting ceremony and introduction of the course participants and instructors. After the introductions, Ms. Arooj Saqib, Technical Expert for ECCE, PAFEC shared the objectives, outline of the course and ground rules for attending the course. Followed by this, Ms. Khadija Khan, Programme Director, PAFEC, made a detailed presentation covering importance theoretical aspects of ECD, including phases/stages of child development, significance of the 1st 1000 days, factors affecting brain development, developmental domains, age appropriate milestones, landscape of ECD in Pakistan, rationale for early investment and proposed ECD/ECCE programmes for Pakistan.

The certificate course is designed to provide students a foundational qualification to become a specialized ECD/ECCE teacher, childcare practitioner, advocate, entrepreneur, researcher, and/or a well-informed parent. The course will familiarize participants with the Single National Curriculum Framework on Early Childhood Care & Education, Global best Practices, Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on Goal 4.2, Nurturing Care Framework, UN Conventions on the Rights of the Children (with a focus on the four principles, i.e., best interest of a child, non-discrimination, survival and development, and participation) and health, nutrition standards for children between the ages of zero to eight.

This course duration is 5 weeks, and includes three sessions per week, each session lasting for 2 to 3 hours. The course uses a blended learning approach, consisting of four elements:

1.      A 2-3-hour interactive online teaching and discussions three times a week (for 5 weeks)
2.      Online self-study materials, such as presentations, case studies, readings and videos
3.      Practical homework tasks to carry out in their own school/home and group assignments
4.      Each group will make a presentation at the end of the course.
As part of its programme to develop ECD workforce, Pakistan Alliance for Early Childhood signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University, Peshawar on 9th June, 2021. The purpose of the MoU is to contribute towards universalizing holistic Early Childhood Development, in Pakistan through augmenting existing courses, developing new accredited diploma & degree courses for ECD/ECCE professionals and building the capacity of relevant faculty members and students. This will be achieved by aligning the courses with the Single National Curriculum of Early Childhood Care & Education, bridging the gap between theory & practice and by building the capacity of the partner institution.

The MoU was signed between Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Razia Sultana, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University Peshawar (SBBWU, Peshawar), and Ms. Khadija Khan, Progamme Director, Pakistan Alliance for Early Childhood. The ceremony was attended by Dr. Wilayat Bibi, Assistant Professor/In charge Department of Education, SBBWU, Peshawar, faculty members of the Department of Education and other departments, and Ms. Arooj Saqib, Technical Expert, EECE and Ms. Mehwish Aziz, Manager Communication, Pakistan Alliance for Early Childhood.

Professional development of faculty and students in other partner universities area also in progress on the following areas:
  • Understanding ECD/ECCE programme philosophy and design
  • Prioritising faculty and student skills in core disciplines
  • Drawing strong connections between programme and course objectives with student learning outcomes, practicum and research.
  • Focusing on ‘praxis’ – learning to practice theoretical constructs on early years learning & development and practicing to learn and understand personal theory of learning and personal professional practice.
Signing MoU between SBBWU and PAFEC
PAFEC team is collaborating with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to develop public-interest messages based on the five key components of the Nurturing Care Framework. These include, good health, adequate nutrition, responsive caregiving, security and safety and opportunities for early learning. Messages on all these important aspects will be initially developed in Urdu and disseminated widely through different platforms.
We are also pleased to share that Ms. Khadija Khan, Programme Director, Pakistan Alliance for Early Childhood, has been appointed as a Director on Board of Governance of the National Education Foundation (NEF). We congratulate her and wish her more success! 
The 7th Meeting of the Board of Directors of Pakistan Alliance for Early Childhood (“the Alliance’’) was held online on June 01, 2021. The meeting began with the recitation from the Holy Quran followed by the introduction of the meeting participants. Participants of the meeting introduced themselves, their organisation, and briefly talked about the work they are doing and how they can play their role in promoting the mandate of PAFEC. After the introductions, Ms. Khadija Khan thanked the distinguished members for sparing their time to attend the meeting. She gave a detailed presentation on the progress being made since the inception of ‘the Alliance’, its source of funding, key milestones achieved so far, future plans and challenges being faced. The presentation was followed by a detailed discussion, focusing on the legal matters, ideas for sustainability and potential collaborations with mission-similar CSOs and government entities. The meeting ended with the vote of thanks by Ms. Khadija Khan.
Board of Directors Meeting via Zoom
Pakistan Alliance for Early Childhood in its quest to support and build capacity of its partner institutions and individual members with the aim to develop present and future workforce with specialisation in ECD/ECCE, organised a series of webinars titled ‘ECD Through Informed Parenting’ in the last quarter.

Following five specifics topics were planned in these webinars:

Webinar 1 - Parent-Child Attachment and Relationship – Lived Experiences
Webinar 2 - Addressing Child’s Needs: 1) Developing Routines for Children, 2) Father’s Engagement in Upbringing of Children
Webinar 3 -   Common Parental Concerns: Behavioural & Emotional – What caregivers must know and understand about investment in emotional development of children and in building positive behaviours?
Webinar 4 -   School Readiness – How to prepare children for pre-school and what parents need to know?
Webinar 5 -   Growing in an Inclusive Home Environment and its Impact on Child Development
Among the expert on the panel for each session included:
In the first session of the webinar, the panel shared their personal journey and lived experiences of raising and nurturing children and seeing them grow into well-rounded adults. Panel members shared their aspirations, challenges and successes and how through various phases of their child’s development and their willingness to embrace them - relationship and attachment, grew and took shape as their children grew as successful adults. The panel also shared their own personal journey in learning what it meant for them in the process. The session provided insights and critical aspects of personal narrative and journey.

In the second webinar session, the panel shed light on two important aspects that contribute directly to a child’s development in early years. 1) the importance of establishing routines and systems for children in early years and 2) father’s role in early years of a child. The panelists talked about why it is important to have routines for children on early-on and how important it is for extended family members to respond to them. Moreover, establishing routines also helps parents, especially the mother as primary caregiver to take care of herself in the process. The panel member also talked about how and when their young child is ready for pre-school, what preparations can one do as a parent for the child’s transition to a pre-school. Equally important if the child is part of a multi-generation home, how a child’s routine needs can be set-up to support the child’s well-being and holistic development. In the second part of this webinar, the panel member talked about why is it important for a father to play an active role in a child’s care and development and how it impacts a child’s adolescent and adult life. The panel member also talked about the role of a father in the context of a husband supporting his wife in childcare to ensure that while a child develops healthy, the mother is also healthy in the process.

The third in the series of these webinar on ‘ECD through informed parenting’, the focus was on addressing the common concerns or challenges vis-à-vis behavioural and emotional. A set of questions were prepared for the panel members, including the questions that were raised in the previous two sessions around this topic. The expert on this webinar detailed how and any type of behaviour that manifests in adults can be directly attributed and traced back to a child’s early years’ experiences, that is as young as 12-18 months where child is learning to emulate behaviours, gratification and emotional bonding; this is also the phase where a child also experiences development of notions around being independent.

In the fourth session of this webinar series, the panel members talked about getting one’s young child ready for pre-school. The panel members responded to a set of questions that as parent one must ask, these include:
1.      What kind of environment your child prefers?
2.      How do you select a pre-school?
  • Meeting the teachers/care givers
  •  Safety & security of the child
  •  What services they provide (food, diapers, water and etc.)?
4.      What to discuss with the teacher about your child’s routines and habits?
5.      How to take this opportunity to introduce yourself to other parents?
6.      How parents can be involved actively?
7.      What a parent should do at home to support their child to succeed at the pre-school?

In addition, both the panel members being service providers, shared their experience of receiving children where parents to not come with adequate preparation and how it becomes difficult for the care providers at the pre-school and how it impacts a child.

The fifth and final session of this webinar series titled as ‘Growing in an Inclusive Home Environment and its Impact on Child Development, the speaker talked about the following important topics: a) the understanding of inclusion and importance of inclusion. b) 2) how to engage with siblings, and c) learning how to build resilience and cope with stress.

The panelist described inclusion by saying that it means always being together, participating, supporting, learning, and welcoming. She further said that inclusion helps in creating a good environment at home, developing strong relationships with family members and beyond and helps in creating better social life and helps in improving academic performance of children and attendance at schools.

She further talked about parental involvement in the child’s life and how it benefits a child. While talking about the benefits of inclusion at home, she said that it can create harmony and effective communication between parents and their children and fosters better collaboration between parents and teachers. She further said that it can also help parents in better understanding social, emotional and intellectual developmental needs of their child. Inclusion at school, she said helps children develop better understanding of key concepts, improve performance and build more confidence. Moreover, she said that all children benefit from inclusive education because it allows them to develop individual strengths, foster a school culture of respect and belongingness, and develop as a community.

In the second part of the webinar, the panelists touched upon the role of siblings in bringing up a child in an inclusive environment. The panelist said that normally siblings of a child with special needs are supportive towards their differently-abled sibling but at times, the normal siblings can feel lonely and can become aggressive if they do not get the same attention as of their differently-abled sibling. To address this issue, the speaker suggested to give equal attention to each child, treat them equally and talk to them about their worries and emotions.

While concluding the webinar the panelist talked about building resilience and how to cope with stress. She described the Self-Efficacy Model of Psychologist Albert Bandura; explaining the theory she said that self-efficacy is people's beliefs in their capabilities to exercise control over their own functioning and over events that affect their lives. She concluded her talk by saying that self-efficacy can provide the foundation for motivation, well-being, and personal accomplishment.

Overall, this webinar series was received well by academicians, students and practitioners, it allowed them to learn new ideas and reconfirm some previously learned notions. On an average each webinar session was attended by 100 plus participants from across Pakistan. These sessions were of 90-minute duration and were conducted online using Zoom and live feeds were shared via the Facebook. To facilitate the participants, recording of the webinar was uploaded on PAFEC website for each access.
Glimpse of the Webinar