“Gone are the days when teaching used to be just about taking a cup of tea, going to the school and then coming back,” said Head of The International School Taymur Mirza on Saturday. Teaching is developing as a profession and teachers are now waking up to the need of quality in our education system, he said on the last day of the Karachi sessions held at Hotel Beach Luxury.
The Trust for Advancement of Knowledge and Education (TAKE) launched its first series of training workshops for teachers in collaboration with the Institute of Education (IOE), University of London this week. The workshops focus on introducing internationally recognised courses for local teachers.
The training kicked off on Thursday in Karachi with two three-day short courses on ‘School Leadership’ and ‘Teaching, Learning and Assessment’ in which a total of 62 schools from 12 cities in Pakistan and one school from Bangladesh are participating.
“Some think that people are born as teachers,” said Colin Wrigley, consultant for the programme and former principal of the Karachi Grammar School. “However, even a good teacher can improve when trained,” he said, adding that it is very important because a single teacher teaches several students.
Mirza, TAKE trustee, said that IOE certification, which is offered to the participants who are taking the course, is recognised by The College of Teachers and can be turned into a degree by the latter. The College of Teachers is the only college in the UK that has a charter to give credits to teachers based on their experience. For example, 18 hours in IOE training qualify the teachers for the Certificate of Educational Studies (COES) of The College of Teachers.
However, for the teachers and participants, international recognition is not the main focus. They want to develop their resources for their institutions rather than just for their individual growth.
Rehana Naz, of the All Pakistan Memon Foundation-Education Board (APMF), found the course on School Leadership particularly helpful. She said that the APMF-Education Board is running 43 Memon schools in Karachi alone, to which she plans to apply the learned methods.
A team of five people from the Sindh Education Foundation was also there. Sana e Zehra, the programme coordinator of Promoting Private Schooling in Rural Sindh (PPRS), said that they were there to learn new methods of assessment for PPRS and other existing programmes.
She said that educationists in the country are slowly realising that in order to raise the standard of education, trained teachers are as important as the curriculum, infrastructure and attendance.
Dr Raphael Wilkins of IOE said that it is a collaboration to promote opportunities for teachers in Pakistan. “If the staff has more opportunities for professional development then they will evolve to make change.”
He found the teachers to be very enthusiastic, creative and imaginative. Dr Tina Isaacs, the other course leader from IOE, also appreciated the willingness of the teachers to discuss and to disagree.
Mirza said this workshop is the first of its kind as there were no recognised teacher training degrees for Pakistani teachers. He said that his school had first come up with the idea in 2005 when they had faced a shortage of good teachers for their Baccalaureate program. He still thinks that while there are a few good teachers in our country, the spark in general is missing. Only a handful can actually identify and nurture the creativity of children.
He said that overall, there are not many teachers’ training institutes in the country.
Among the existing ones he could only recall the University of Karachi, St Patrick’s High School’s Notre-Dame Institute of Education, Aga Khan’s Institute for Educational Development (IED) that is for rural development, Teachers Resource Centre, Teachers Development Center and a few others. “None of these, except for the Notre-Dame Institute, are very promising because our teachers cannot work in other countries, for instance Musqat, Oman, and others,” he said.
He said that TAKE is working to bridge this gap by providing opportunities for teachers’ growth and excellence via IOE’s collaboration.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2011.