The long debates and criticisms regarding Single National Curriculum (SNC) on every forum has created a confusion among parents. This article aims at highlighting the steps taken by education ministry to design the new curriculum and its implementation at preschool level. Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) program refers to a two year program for children up to 5 years of age before Grade I which is designed based on international standards of early years education. There are three main steps of implementation that are presented by the government based on suggestions from panel of educationists from around the country.
Key learning areas, Competencies and Outcomes
The seven main learning areas identified for early years by teachers, practitioners and textbook/classroom material developers include the following:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Language and Literacy
- Basic Mathematics
- The World Around Us
- Physical Development
- Health, Hygiene and Safety
- Creative Arts
The curriculum formulation also highlighted how these learning areas will be analyzed and assessed by teachers as it was established that children at age of 4-5 years should not be forced to learn beyond their capacity. Thus, to eliminate the concept of expected results, outcomes for preschool level will be termed as “expected” to avoid focus on completion of tasks and instead focus should remain on learning. This way teachers for preschools will not assess child’s performance on basis of goal achievement but improvements and efforts put in a project.
A detailed and comprehensive guidelines for key learning areas and competencies has been developed by the ministry of education in consultation with educationists and practitioners from Pakistan. This guidelines aims to make it easy for schools to implement new curriculum in totality and in its true spirit without any confusion. Table below summarizes the key learning areas and their expected outcomes for preschool group.
Key Learning Areas and Expected Outcomes Guidelines
|Key Learning Areas||Expected Outcomes|
|Personal, Social and Emotional Development||Competency 1: Understanding of personal likes, dislikes, choices, strength, emotions, positive sense of self, problem solving.|
Competency 2: Sharing and Collaborating among peers, teachers, family members irrespective of gender, culture, language and ethnicity.
Competency 3: Appreciation of culture, heritage, language.
Competency 4: Understanding of religious and cultural values and developing tolerance for other religions and cultures.
Competency 5: Develop self of responsibility.
Competency 6: Use of common courtesy expressions like greetings, please, thank you, salaam and excuse me.
Competency 7: Demonstrate moral and ethical factors of honesty, accountability, compassion and respect.
|Language and Literacy||Competency 1: Effectively engage with other children and teachers using language in different contexts and purpose.|
Competency 2: Should be able to describe objects, events and their activities.
Competency 3: Should be able to make up their own stories and rhymes.
Competency 4: Should be able to understand significance of books, organize them and read them.
Competency 5: Recognize letters and words
Competency 6: Understand symbols, letters and words and use pictures and symbols to communicate
|Mathematical Concepts||Competency 1: Development of logic, creative, problem solving skills along with understanding weight, size, sequence, shape, position and texture.|
Competency 2: Understand concept of counting, quantity and measurement.
|World Around Us||Competency 1: Develop understanding of families, people around them and their history.|
Competency 2: Recognize difference between living and non-living things.
Competency 3: Develop understanding of plants and animals and their habitat and survival.
Competency 4: Develop understanding of seasons, weather, environment and their impact.
Competency 5: Develop understanding and care regarding natural resources and physical aspects of Earth.
Competency 6: Develop basic understanding of use of technology for exploration.
|Physical Development||Competency 1: Children should be able to develop basic sense of agility, balance and body coordination.|
Competency 2: Improve eye and hand coordination as well as use of tools.
Competency 3: Develop sensory motor skills
|Health, Hygiene and Safety||Competency 1: Teach basics of hygiene to children including healthy, safe and hygienic practices.|
Competency 2: Understand basic self-safety, safe touch, and security.
|Creative Arts||Competency 1:Children should learn to express themselves through arts, paints and drawings.|
Competency 2: Learn to make models using variety of material for exploring their creativity.
Competency 3: Learn to make collages, observe and practice folding, cutting, pasting, tearing and makings patterns.
Competency 4: Children should be able to identify rhythms and use them as form of expression.
Competency 5: increase participation in dramatics to develop confidence and self-expression.
The Education Ministry has even provided detailed guidelines with examples for implementation of each aspects to show teachers how they can facilitate learning. For each key learning area and each competency examples are provided for class activities.
Positive Learning Environment for ECCE Classroom
Apart from teachers’ training and professional development for new curriculum and its implementation, there is a strong emphasis on redesigning and rethinking the learning environment for younger children to ensure that the curriculum designed has a positive outcomes. As recommended by theorists, psychologists and educationists on the panel, federal government has recommended implementation of the following steps to make learning environment more conducive.
Creation of ‘Goshay’ — The learning corners
In a great attempt to drastically improve the education standards of public and low cost preschools, the panel has recommended every preschool to create work spaces for children called ‘Goshay’ in Urdu for providing a simulated real-life situation. Working in different and specified subject related corners will allow children to
- Take initiative and make choices about what they want to do and how they can do it
- Complete self-chosen tasks
- Question, experiment, discover and make sense of the world around them
- Work, share and cooperate with other children and develop their social skills
- Work independently towards mastery of different skills
For preschool, following well equipped corners with required material corners are recommended:
- Language corner
- Library corner
- Art corner
- Math corner
- Science corner
- Home corner
The idea is similar to what is being promoted in developed countries i.e. to change learning spaces without heavy costs in order to stimulate children’ minds.
Moreover, following activities are recommended with time schedule by the Ministry of Education for ECCE grades. This will allow preschools to easily adopt the new curriculum without any confusion or debates regarding its effectiveness as the panel of 45 members who designed this timetable, competencies and expected outcomes are experts in their fields.
Activity Timetable suggested by Ministry of Education
Theoretical Perspectives behind formulation of SNC
Pakistan’s education ministry aims at changing the landscape of education in Pakistan as is quite evident from the detailed steps described in official document for Single National Curriculum. A major criticism recently raised by some analysts and critics in Pakistan was that SNC seems to overlook psychological perspectives of child cognitive development. However, the official panel of decision makers have released the details of theoretical perspectives that have been considered in formulating Single National Curriculum for Early education.
SNC has used theoretical perspectives of age appropriate brain development, cognitive development, psycho-social and emotional development as well as ecological system development theories to help understand the holistic development of a child. Some of the major studies and theories considered in development of SNC include the following:
- Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences : An Innovative Approach Towards Understanding Child’s Potential through intelligences including Naturalist, Musical, Logical-Mathematical, Existential, Interpersonal, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Linguistic, Intra-personal and Spatial.
- VARK Model by Neil Fleming : The most relevant and appropriate learning styles model that expands upon notions of sensory modalities of Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic.
- Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development : Study of development of thinking process in children while going through four main stages in life. The theory focuses on 4 main age groups: 0-2 years, 2-7 years, 7-11 years and 12 years to adulthood.
- Vygotsky’s Theory of Socio-cultural Development
- Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psycho-social Development
- Bloom’s Taxonomy
Teacher/ Educator/School Administration Competencies and Training
Since implementation of ECCE curriculum under SNC is highly dependent on competency of teachers, Federal government along with education ministries from all provinces are aiming at developing training programs for teachers as well. This include workshops, meetings, courses and extensive meetings and coordination among parents, teachers, administrators and educational institutions.
All teachers are required to be equipped with knowledge regarding following aspects of children growth and education:
- Theories regarding child development from Age 0-8 years and brain development
- Methods for Child learning and development
- Adult learning, support and development
- Role of parents, caregivers, families and communities in child development