What is accelerated

What is accelerated learning program and what is the need???

Rabia Sattar

Pakistan is facing a serious challenge to ensure all children, particularly the most disadvantaged, attend, stay and learn in school. While enrollment and retention rates are improving, progress has been slow to improve education indicators in Pakistan. 

Currently, Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children (OOSC) with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending school, representing 44 per cent of the total population in this age group. In the 5-9 age group, 5 million children are not enrolled in schools and after primary-school age, the number of OOSC doubles, with 11.4 million adolescents between the ages of 10-14 not receiving formal education. Disparities based on gender, socio-economic status, and geography are significant.

Nearly 10.7 million boys and 8.6 million girls are enrolled at the primary level and this drops to 3.6 million boys and 2.8 million girls at the lower secondary level.

Gaps in service provision at all education levels is a major constraint to education access.  Socio-cultural demand-side barriers combined with economic factors and supply-related issues (such as availability of school facility), together hamper access and retention of certain marginalized groups, in particular adolescent girls. Putting in place a credible data system and monitoring measures to track retention and prevent drop-out of out-of-school children is still a challenge.

At systems level, inadequate financing, limited enforcement of policy commitments and challenges in equitable implementation impede reaching the most disadvantaged. An encouraging increase in education budgets has been observed though at 2.8 percent of the total GDP, it is still well short of the 4 percent target.

Pakistan is the sixth country in the world to sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, less than one year after it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. However, children and adolescents living in Pakistan still face acute challenges.

In recent years, Pakistan has taken significant steps to advance the right to education. In 2010, Article 25-A of the Constitution legislated free and compulsory education for children aged 5-16. More recently in 2015, Pakistan adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 4 on education, reinforcing the government’s long-term commitment to education for every child without discrimination.

The federal government has made out-of-school children a national priority. In December 2018, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a resolution in which it recognized the rights of every child born in Pakistan as well as mothers.

Given renewed efforts by the Government of Pakistan to contextualize the SDG 4 agenda on education and achieve Pakistan’s constitutional education commitments, DFID and many other International Donors prioritize early learning and out of-school children. This is especially important as given that significant numbers of children still remain out of school and are not learning even if they are attending school.

 Over the past years, Pakistan has made steady progress for children, and the new government has committed to rise up to the challenges. UNICEF would continue to support the government to accelerate progress for children, work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and help children realize their rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The accelerated learning modules and condensed syllabi will provide out-of-school children with a second opportunity to participate in educational activities.

In remote areas, especially where community is scattered like Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and  ex-Fata, cultures, environment and socioeconomic conditions need special consideration. These elements make the provision of education to the people very difficult and thus, resulting in low proportion of school going children and high dropout rates. In order to cater to all these difficulties, non-formal education is the only way forward.

In developing countries like Pakistan, this technique is very useful and cost effective as it can address the issues of scarcity of teachers and facilitators in schools. On the other hand by introducing accelerated learning programmes in non- formal schools will support the learners to acquire the learning land marks in minimum time period.

Cognizant of the fact, KP government is ushering a new era of renewed interest in the long neglected education sector, realizing that the tone of future growth and development are set by provision of quality, accessible, inclusive, and safe education. Ownership and community involvement are crucial for the success of Programme. It has been proved that one sided government-centric planning meted out deleterious effects than beneficial ones. The-refore, a new tier of CCSI has been added to strengthen the community participation and ensure transparency and accountability.

The Accelerated Lear-ning Programme  (ALP) has been designed to re-enroll dropped out children from school in view of the ongoing conflict in most areas of newly merged districts ex- FATA. It is an innovative programme focusing on children in the age bracket of 9-16, who had lost hope of ever resuming education.

Institute of Rural Management (IRM), in collaboration with Directorate of Education KP and financial assistance from UNIC-EF, initiated an Accelerated Learning Programme in Mohmand and Bajaur and brought 992 school drop-outs (26% girls) from grade 2 to grade 5 back to mainstream education. 100% of the students passed the exam administered by the ex -FATA Education Secretariat and were awarded grade 5 equivalence certificate. A survey conducted in other eight districts of ex fata also stresses the need for 380 more ALP centers. Hopefully these efforts by the government and the international donors would pick momentum for the larger interest of all, especially the most neglected areas of the province the newly merged districts.

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