Taking Off to Build Local Capacity for Early Childhood Development — By NARMEEN LAKHAN
“When I submitted my TKN Niyat in 2007, I had no idea how things would transpire over the years,” says Dr. Almina Pardhan upon reflecting on the success of the Early Child Development program that she helped implement in five countries across Asia in collaboration with numerous Jamati and AKDN institutions.
Parwaaz, meaning taking off in Urdu, began as a pilot programme in 2014, when Dr. Pardhan was a member of the Council for Pakistan. It is a 25-hour parent-child programme for children 6 to 36 months old and their parents, based on best practice models from around the world that leverage the impact of having parents and children participate in enjoyable, interactive sessions to support physical, cognitive, language and social development.
After scaling the first iteration of the programme to multiple sites across Pakistan through Master Trainers, Dr. Pardhan was asked to take on a TKN assignment in Moscow, Russia, to replicate a contextualized model, followed by a similar training in Beirut for the Syrian context. Most recently, she is assisting with rollout of the programme in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, where Early Child Development has been identified as a critical need.
Each iteration of the programme is rooted in country-specific languages and materials, integrating local traditions and stories into the curriculum to make it more accessible and relevant for families. In Tajikistan, for example, dance is an important custom that is being incorporated into the children’s learning experience.
Dr. Pardhan’s team has worked closely with the Aga Khan University Human Development Programme, which has worked extensively in rural and urban communities with parents and children under 3 years old, to identify contextually relevant activities for the programme. This has been among the many partnerships between institutions, including National Councils, Aga Khan Education Boards / Aga Khan Education Service, Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Boards, Aga Khan Health Boards / Aga Khan Health Service, Aga Khan Foundation and other AKDN institutions, to enable a holistic, comprehensive and culturally relevant programme for each child.
“The specialization and facilitation of each contributing institution’s mandate within and across countries in terms of health, education, nutrition, ethics and enabling conducive physical spaces, has been critical to be able to scale the program to this level,” she describes.
Dr. Pardhan has been Faculty in the area of Early Childhood Education and Development at The Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development in Karachi, Pakistan, since 2004, and was the ECD Coordinator at the Institute for Ismaili Studies from2015-2017.
“By being able to apply my professional passion through my TKN assignment, I’ve learned about the contexts of child development in other countries, and how significant 100% access to ECD is for all children as part of their overall development trajectory and life-course. . It is a difficult feeling to describe – this experience has been a real blessing,” expresses Dr. Pardhan.
Source: The Ismaili
Adding a Magic Touch to the Classroom — NARMEEN LAKHANI | 07 July 2017| TKN
Alif Khalfan was selected to participate with other field professionals as a teacher and mentor at the UCA Naryn Campus’ “Connecting Your Discipline” programme in May, which offered a series of engaging workshops, guest lectures, career panels, interactive activities, simulation and real world applications to help students navigate their undergraduate specialisations.
Alif Khalfan has a motto that he applies to both his professional career at Disney and his TKN assignment at the University of Central Asia: “I’ll always be learning, and I’ll always be teaching.”
He was selected to participate with other field professionals as a teacher and mentor at the UCA Naryn Campus’ “Connecting Your Discipline” programme in May, which offered a series of engaging workshops, guest lectures, career panels, interactive activities, simulation and real world applications to help students navigate their undergraduate specialisations: Earth and Environmental Sciences, Computer Sciences, Economics and Communications and Media.
Though daunting at first to be in a new classroom with a multilingual group, Alif and his co-teacher Naki Taiirova, a computer scientist from Bishkek, introduced the students to the subject using a series of interactive activities, such as counting with bits, playing guessing games to create algorithms, and even performing a card trick to teach lessons.
“Our time together gave them not only the information and tools that will serve as a catalyst for their future pursuits, but also the confidence to eagerly explore a subject that they were not previously familiar with,” he describes.
Alif is no stranger to teaching, having facilitated a number of courses for The Walt Disney Company since joining the organization in 2010 in San Francisco. He has also been passionately involved in working with youth in the United States to support them with college applications and other defining milestones.
His time at UCA inspired lasting relationships with the students he taught. “We connected at a deeper human level, and it was rewarding for me to be able to encourage them on their academic paths. Despite coming from different parts of the world, we were able to bond through our shared interests and grow from a relationship of mutual teaching and learning,” says Alif.
Source: The Ismaili
What is TKN -11 July 2017
Welcome to the TKN Site
The Time and Knowledge Nazrana (TKN) represents a combination of two cherished Ismaili traditions: (i) submitting to the Imam of the time an unconditional Nazrana (gift) in commemorating epochal events, as a gesture of love and homage, and (ii) offering one’s intellectual capacity to assist the Imamat’s efforts for the progress of the Jamat, and the communities within which the Jamat lives. The tradition of offering Nazrana also serves to reinforce the ethic of giving for human development and improvement of quality of life for the less fortunate. The contribution of time and knowledge in the service of the Imamat is a tradition that dates back to the earliest period of Shia Islam.
The TKN endeavour was launched as a Golden Jubilee initiative to harness the expertise and skills of murids worldwide for building institutional capacity of Jamati and AKDN institutions. Thousands of murids pledged TKN Niyats during the Golden Jubilee and a large number since then have been successfully placed on assignments in these institutions.
Jamati and AKDN institutions, which have utilized TKN volunteers, have significantly benefitted from the volunteers’ contributions. For the majority of volunteers, their assignments have been personally fulfilling and have enhanced their professional skills and experiences.
The TKN website was launched in December 2014 to (i) demonstrate the TKN value proposition by posting high impact volunteer assignment stories, and (ii) facilitate online updates of TKN volunteer profiles and their availability information. Profile updates indicate significant enhancements in the volunteers’ qualifications, skills and experiences since 2007, resulting in a substantially richer global TKN talent pool.
We now have another opportunity during the commemoration of our Imam’s Diamond Jubilee, another epochal occasion, to offer a Time and Knowledge Nazrana to Mawlana Hazar Imam as our humble token of love, homage and gratitude.
Through the learnings and experiences of the Golden Jubilee and with technology improvements, the TKN volunteer engagement process is undergoing ongoing refinements to make it more effective. The TKN endeavor is well positioned to become a transformational long-term volunteer resource pool for professional assignments in institutional capacity building globally.
Source: The Ismaili