Preschool education Re-Imagined!
“Uzbekistan Launches Learning passport for preschool education”
"The COVID 19 pandemic exposed the fragility of education systems, particularly for the most vulnerable preschoolers,” said Elena Nekrasova, a teacher in Tashkent , “Children with special needs for instance could not continue learning at home.”
Following, the COVID 19 lockdowns and school interruptions, education was shifted online and through TV for primary school, secondary and tertiary pupils, but very little was done to address pre-school education and create an environment for their continued learning . It is against this background that UNICEF working with the Ministry of Preschool Education in Uzbekistan adapted the Learning Passport for pre-school education.
The Learning Passport (LP) - a flexible, customizable, digital learning platform, born out of a partnership between UNICEF and Microsoft, is already used to support the learning of millions of primary and secondary school children across the world.
In Uzbekistan, the platform focuses on pre-school, a huge innovation. It will equip Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers with professional courses, lessons plans, and additional readings rooted in the country’s National Curriculum “Ilk Kadam” and Early Learning and Development Standards.
“As a teacher for children with special needs, I found the Special Pedagogy section useful. Recommendations on creating an educational environment for children with special needs, practical suggestions for teachers working with such children, and sample lesson plans are particularly helpful,” said Elena.
The innovative use of the LP for pre-school is both strategic and informed by evidence. Evidence has shown that 90% of a child’s brain develops by the age of five (5). Consequently, parents and teachers can help build strong foundations for lifelong learning by creating nurturing and stimulating environments.
“This critical period only occurs once in a lifetime—for this reason, the platform is crucial to millions of pre-primary aged children. Their life-long physical, mental and financial outcomes depend on support they receive during this time”, said Agrippina Shin, Minster of Preschool Education.
The Lancet Series on Early Childhood Development estimates that a lack of opportunity for growth and development in the early years could translate into an annual average percentage loss of adult income of 26%.
This innovative approach will reach nearly 20,000 teachers and benefit around 1,5 million children with improved learning and developmental outcomes.
Parents and caregivers will receive home-based learning guidance; a library of simple activities , parenting tips and instructions on joint play, while the “Bolalik Akademiyasi” is also easy to use for children. They can play games to help them read, write, and count , through E-books in local languages; edutainment videos and age-appropriate content.
The yields of these simple yet proven measures of stimulation are huge and the return on investment unparalleled.
“Evidence makes a compelling case for investing in the early years. Nurturing, protecting, promoting and supporting children in their early is transformative. The return on investment on early education can be up to 16 times more”, said Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan.
Back in the classroom the impact of the Learning Passport for children is already being felt in Elena’s class and she is urging other teachers to use the platform.
“Children are delighted to act video exercises to the music with the teacher…. I have been urging all my colleagues and pupils’ parents to actively use this platform in practice to encourage children’s development,” she says.