Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Let’s Vaccine Our Children for Violence

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Let’s Vaccine Our Children for Violence

Many developed countries, including France, Germany and Norway, have provided universal preschool programs for three and four-year-olds for decades. More recently, the UK and New Zealand have made moves to join them. East Asian countries that consistently are in top educational performance lists are rapidly gearing towards universal access for three and four-year-olds. But Afghanistan with 10 millions uneducated people has the lowest level of participation in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in the world. However, some private schools have newly started to provide access to one year of preschool education but it is beyond the fiscal ability of most families. In order to decrease the number of jails and endless social violence, Afghanistan has to change its mindset and invest more on education and in fact, vaccine the future generations for violence with preschool programs.
Preschool programs (also known as kindergarten) provide a friendly environment for children to develop their Skills, capabilities, interests and talents. Preschool is about helping children learn to get along with others, to be creative and collaborative problem solvers, to understand and talk about their emotions, as well as supporting the foundations of literacy, numeracy and science. Skilled educators use teaching strategies that are appropriate for the age of the child. They extend children's thinking, encourage them to ask questions, engage them in conversations about things that excite them, and integrate learning into play and exploration. Research shows that attending two years of preschool improves children's readiness for school more than one year's attendance, with particular impacts on their early literacy and social and emotional skills. And 16-year-olds who attended at least two years of preschool were three times more likely to take a higher academic pathway in post secondary school. Preschool has benefits for all children, but the biggest impacts are with the children who need extra support as a large number of children in Afghanistan are mentally retarded due to experience of chronic malnourishment in first three years. The universal evidence shows that one year of preschool is not usually enough for these children to catch up.
Increasing access to early education, especially for the children who will benefit most, is not a light undertaking. Many countries face challenges maintaining or increasing quality and managing affordability (for both families and the government). Even so, the clear trend internationally is to invest in preschool for three-year-olds, and provide it universally — for all children — not just a small proportion with high levels of need. The UK established an entitlement to subsidised early education for four-year-olds in 2000. This was expanded to three-year-olds in 2005, and more recently to disadvantaged Two-year-olds. There is near-universal attendance in part-time programs from all three and four-year-olds. New Zealand introduced 20 hours of free early education for all three-year-olds in 2007 and also has near universal attendance. The introduction of a free entitlement increased overall participation slightly, and number of hours attended significantly. Many European nations introduced free or highly subsidised preschool programs for children, starting at least at age three, decades ago. These programs are very high quality, and they are both good for children and helpful for families going back to work. Norway has near universal attendance in preschool from age three and for around 30 hours per week. They introduced preschool for three-year-olds nearly 30 years ago, and participation has been steadily increasing. By 2010, 97 percent of three-year-olds were attending, largely because there are enough places for all children and fees are low enough that all families can afford to send their children. France has a long-standing universal preschool platform for all children aged three to six. The program is free, integrated with the school system, supports full or part day attendance, and runs in three age-based classes. Since 1980, all three-year-olds have had a legislated right to an early education place, and attendance is near-universal.
The countries at the forefront of global education innovation that perform highly in international education benchmarking exercises, such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Korea, are rapidly moving towards universal early education for all children from age three. China currently has two-thirds of four-year-old children attending preschool programs, and is aiming to subsidise universal access to two years of preschool by 2020. National education strategies identify early childhood education as priority for lifting human capital and educational participation and outcomes. Korea currently has nearly 75 percent of three-year-olds in preschool programs, with universal access to early education for three to five-year-olds. All three to five-year-olds receive a subsidy to attend early education.
Consequently the preschool education program has many outcomes and can benefit from many ways: it can enhance strong sense of identity, connects and contributes to their world, improves the sense of wellbeing, raises the confidence and involves learners and helps them become effective learners and communicators. Thus, well-trained educators understand how to engage and promote children’s learning with interesting games; various game programs are their brain's favorite way of learning and effective developing tools for mind. They can talk with families and communities to make locally based decisions, relevant to each child needs and their community. They can raise awareness, give a strong sense of wellbeing and provide children with confidence and optimism which maximize their learning potential. It encourages the development of children’s innate exploratory drive, a sense of agency and a desire to interact with responsive others. Wellbeing is correlated with resilience, providing children with the capacity to cope with day-to-day stress and challenges. The readiness to persevere when faced with unfamiliar and challenging learning situations creates the opportunity for success and achievement. Children’s learning and physical development is evident through their movement patterns from physical dependence and reflex actions at birth, to the integration of sensory, motor and cognitive systems for organized, controlled physical activity for both purpose and enjoyment. Children’s wellbeing can be affected by all their experiences within and outside of their early childhood settings. To support children’s learning, it is essential that educators attend to children’s wellbeing by providing warm, trusting relationships, predictable and safe environments, affirmation and respect for all aspects of their physical, emotional, social, cognitive, linguistic, creative and spiritual being.
“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom”
George Washington Carver

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@ gmail.com

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