Aao Parhao – Let's work towards facilitating our teachers

It is a common practice for policy makers to point fingers at teachers for the low education standards in the country.

Mehreen Ovais March 15, 2015
Education is one of the fundamental foundations for a nation to move forward. For this, various models are being introduced and implemented as the most effective and efficient education systems. However, whichever education equation is opted for, it is worth noting that it cannot be initiated without the most crucial building block – teachers.

Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education and author, Joel Klein, observes,
“A great teacher can rescue a child from a life of struggle.”

This statement could not be any truer. A high-performing, well-trained, and committed teacher can not only enhance a child’s learning abilities but can also shape their minds, personalities, their future potential and basically the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, this very building block is ignored or absent from most education mixes.

Most teachers in the country, especially in public school systems, are in the profession by default, and not by design. The lack of focus towards teaching is mainly because it is considered a low-paying job without many social benefits. Men usually take up teaching when they have no other options or as part-time work while women prefer it because it is considered safe and convenient as per their social set-ups. Other than these factors, there is very little motivation for most to adopt this profession and thus, little to no ambitions to perform better.

There is, hence, a dire need to focus our attention on the educators – empower, support and train them in order to establish a more efficient and equitable education standard in the country. In order to attract more quality teachers, schools and universities should raise their selection criteria and remuneration policies. Both should be adjusted to reward teachers, based on expertise and success rather than seniority or experience alone. This way, teachers who perform better, or teach advanced subjects, will be paid and recognised more. This automatically becomes a big motivator for them to improve and take vested interest in the performance of their students.

Another way we can improve our education standards is by involving teachers in curriculum development, textbook selection, and learning aid development programs so that they can contribute towards the process from the very beginning, instead of being expected to implement something they do not understand or have a say in.

This approach would help teachers understand goals of the curriculum for each level and class and set realistic execution criteria, such as, time required to finish the curriculum, aids required, and so on. Training should be provided to teachers so that they can understand the curriculum, and teach concepts in an interactive and effective way – beyond simple reading or rote learning.

To provide further support, it is important to equip teachers with modern tools and techniques and allow professional development in different stages of their careers. Even though a report by World Bank states that most of teachers in public schools have college degrees, recent findings by a British Council survey reveal that 94% of Pakistan’s primary and middle school teachers lack necessary English language skills in English-medium schools, 44% teachers in the province do not use lesson plans, while 20% do not evaluate their student’s understanding of the lesson with follow up questions. This proves that college degrees alone cannot determine teacher’s performance. Attention needs to be paid on training teachers towards conceptual understanding, procedural knowledge, problem-solving and practical reasoning skills.

For teaching to become a desired profession, it is also very important to increase social perception, status and morale related to teaching. This is closely tied to financial and social benefits derived from this occupation, just like it is for any other profession. Teaching, however, is one of the most unattractive professions in the country, due to poor job benefits; hence it dissuades young graduates from joining.

Existing teachers look for other sources of earning such as giving private tuitions at the cost of their professional integrity and attention towards students.

The working conditions in Pakistani schools, especially public schools, are also highly unfavourable. Large class sizes and teacher-student ratios put added pressure on teachers, who are then more focused at finishing the syllabus instead of giving quality time to the development of individual students.

It is often a common practice for policy makers to point fingers at teachers for low education standards in the country, but the fact is that teachers need to be empowered and supported to achieve that goal instead of being forced into it without understanding the context.

It is only when these necessary measures are taken that teachers will adopt the transformative role that we often associate with them, and truly become ‘builders of the nation’.

This blog is part of an interactive campaign called Aao Parhao – Jo Seekha Hai Wo Sekhao (Come Teach – Teach All That You Have Learnt); a Call-to-Action to help change the future of Pakistani children, launched by the Express Media Group in collaboration with Ilm Ideas.

So join us, by reading, watching and telling us what you think. To be part of the Aao Parhao movement, please visit our website, like our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter at to get regular updates about all our activities, learn about teaching opportunities and share the stories of inspirational teachers.

Mehreen Ovais A graduate from the Manchester Business School with an MSc Marketing degree, she is currently working in Geneva, Switzerland and is passionately engaged in writing about a whole host of varying issues. She tweets as @mehreenovais (https://twitter.com/mehreenovais)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


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