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Shallwani, S. (October, 2011). Reconceptualizing school readiness in Pakistan. Paper presented at the Reconceptualising Early Childhood Education Conference, London.
Abstract: Globally, more children are enrolling in primary school, but many have unsuccessful experiences with the system (Arnold, Bartlett, Gowani, & Shallwani, 2008). It is important to understand school factors impacting children's experience in primary school. This is the ‘readiness of schools’ for children – rather than the ‘readiness of children’ for school. Conceptualizations of ‘ready schools’ must be contextually-grounded to be relevant and meaningful. This study examines school-level factors which affect children in Primary 1 in Pakistan, and explores socially constructed meanings of the Primary 1 experience by those involved in it, towards a reconceptualization of ‘school readiness’ in Pakistan.
While more and more children around the world are enrolling in primary school, many children enrolled in school are not completing school or are moving through the system without learning the skills schools are expected to teach them (UNESCO, 2008). Analysis of grade-disaggregated data demonstrates that the highest drop-out and repetition rates are in the earliest grades of primary (Arnold, Bartlett, Gowani, & Shallwani, 2008; UNESCO, 2007).
In this context, it becomes critical to understand school-level factors that impact children's experience in early primary. This is the ‘readiness of schools’ for children – as opposed to the more generally emphasized and researched ‘readiness of children’ for school. Thus it is necessary to understand characteristics that make ‘ready schools’ – schools that are ready to receive and support children’s learning.
There has been very minimal conceptual work done on ‘ready schools’, and that which has been done has mostly been carried out from a Western/European perspective. In different cultures and contexts, different factors affect the interaction between the school and the child/family, the school’s capacity to support children and families, and how the roles of different participants in the experience are viewed and valued. Conceptualizations of ‘ready schools’ must be grounded in particular socio-cultural and economic contexts in order to be relevant and meaningful.
This study (part of my doctoral dissertation) uses mixed methods to develop a contextually-grounded understanding of ‘ready schools’ in Pakistan. The study examines school-level factors which are associated with children’s successful entry and adjustment to primary school in Pakistan, and explores the socially constructed meanings of this experience by those involved in it.
In this presentation, preliminary findings will be shared and discussed within and towards a reconceptualization of the notion of ‘school readiness’, and a contextually-grounded understanding of ready schools in Pak