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Establishing routes for sustainable education

Examining the role of schooling in the cognitive and wider development of children in the province of Punjab (Pakistan) and State of Gujarat (India)

Principal Investigator: Dr Nadia Siddiqui

Co-Investigators: Professor Stephen Gorard, Dr Beng Huat See, Professor Pauline Dixon, Dr Smruti Bulsari, Saba Saeed, Hamza Sarfaraz  

Project Advisory: Professor Kiran Pandya, Baela Raza Jamil

AESAS project is an opportunity for us to investigate the importance and function of school in children’s lives in the two largest regions of Punjab, Pakistan and the State of Gujarat, India. AESAS is a comparative study of children’s learning outcomes at 3 to 6 years of age. We are assessing children in this study regardless of their school enrolment status (less than 50% attend formal schools), so that we can compare the learning levels of children who attended early years of formal education with those who have had no chance of attending formal education. This comparison will carefully match children based on their family socioeconomic status, family size, parental education, access to schools and regional characteristics. The analysis of these factors will give us an indication of differences among children and their learning patterns and how much early years of education can determine children’s readiness to attend formal school.  

The project has been successfully launched in the State of Gujarat, India and the province of Punjab, Pakistan under most unfortunate and critical circumstance due to the Covid 19 crisis. Before the global pandemic hit these two regions, we were able to complete the preparatory work such as identification of regions for sampling, development of assessment tools, signing memorandum of understanding with partners, website development, ethics approval, and approval from the local government regions to conduct this activity. In addition, we completed a comprehensive pilot of the instruments in Gujarat and Punjab. We are in the process of conducting the work now using mobile technology.  

The study is the first chance to see children's readiness for, and the impact of, attending early years’ schooling. The added value from this research is generating an evidence base for policies to make informed recommendations for early childhood education. Collaborators from India and Pakistan are playing a very active role in informing regional education policy. 

More information about the project can be found at:

  • British Academy website.
  • A public webinar on Early Childhood Education and Development, titled "Early Years Learning in COVID-19: Global Response and Adaptations in Pakistan" 
  • BERA blog: Adapting to the new normal in survey research
  • Radio talk by Professor Stephen Gorard in which he discussed our BA GCRF ECD project, at 44 mins 44 secs. I am really glad thankful to our team helping to build our outputs of this.
  • Pilot phase: A pilot study was conducted to assess the feasibility of assessments measures. The findings of pilot study are available in this report. Siddiqui, N, Bulsari, S, Gorard, S., See, B., Dixon, P., Pandya, K., Saeed, S. & Saeed, S. (2020). Pilot study report: 2020 Assessing Early Years Schooling, Access and Student Outcomes (AESAS): Establishing routes for sustainable education in Pakistan and India. Working Paper. Durham University.
  • Assessing children online during lockdown period: The study assessed children and interviewed parents using mobile phone video technology. The details of the adaptations were published is BERA blog Bulsari, S, Siddiqui, N, Saeed, S. and Sarfaraz, S. (2020) Adapting to the new normal in survey research BERA, 15/07/2020

Read the impact this project is having in our case study.