Does school matter for early childhood education? Preliminary findings form first data sweep of a longitudinal study
Associate Professor Nadia Siddiqui, Professor Stephen Gorard, Professor Beng Huat See, Pauline Dixon, Smruti Bulsari, Saba Saeed, Hamza Sarfaraz and Kiran Pandya, School of Education, Durham Univesity
This study addresses the theme of sustainable early childhood education in Pakistan and India. This comparative study of two countries looks at school readiness, the impact of school attendance on cognitive and wider outcomes over one year, the views of communities and families on attendance, the barriers they face. The study included 1148 children (3.5 to 8 years) in the household samples. Children were assessed and households were interviewed in the first week of Covid 19 lockdown in both countries. In this article we present preliminary findings of our first data sweep demonstrating the difference on children’s cognitive learning in relation to their school attendance status. Parental income, country, child’s age, sex and disability are strong predictors of school attendance which explained 80% of correctness in the model. Children in Gujarat (India) are more likely to attend school than children in Punjab (Pakistan) and this difference is attributed to easy access to early childhood centres (Anganwadis). However, children’s learning outcomes are not explained by access to any school type. Children in Punjab (Pakistan) who do not attend school have big gaps in their literacy skills. In both countries parents’ perceptions of child’s readiness delays their admission to a formal school. School attendance matters for children’s social emotional wellbeing but more so for their literacy skills.
Early childhood education, school attendance, school readiness