Teaching the teachers: Govt plans doing away with professional degree requirement

Education minister rejects need for such courses for educators, experts disagree.

Asad Zia August 18, 2014


“There is no need for extra courses for teachers at the primary to high school-level,” Minister for Education Muhammad Atif Khan told The Express Tribune on Monday. “Professional teaching certificates or a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education are not necessary for school teachers,” he added.

“I think these extra degrees are not very important for a school teacher and any master’s degree holder could be eligible for a teaching post,” said the minister. Based on this, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government plans to eliminate the requirement of teaching certifications or degrees for school teachers in the province.

While the decision is yet to be implemented, government officials and education experts have offered decisive and dividing opinions on the minister’s stance.

At Atif’s end, removing preconditions of professional diplomas and degrees would open up the job market for many who might be eligible to teach but have been held back by the requirement. “Men and women who have been unemployed for years will now be able to apply for new posts.”

According to the education minister, “A lot of talented people are present in the province but their skills are wasted as they do not have additional professional degrees.”

By removing the requirement, men and women with master’s degrees will have a shot at becoming teachers, said Atif. “We also plan to provide school teachers overall training so they can be better educators to children in government schools.”

Officials in the education department were in agreement with the minister and say the move would favour quality education if properly implemented. “New talent will come to the fore and can then be appointed to new posts,” said one official. This can allow for better teachers which will well improve the quality of government school education, said officials.

However, they worried plans made by the education minister in the past were never made actionable.

Outside the department, educational experts remain less than happy with the minister’s plans.

“BEd, MEd and other professional courses boost the experience of a student [learning to teach],” said University of Peshawar’s Institute of Education and Research Director Prof Dr Aqeel Zaman. “These courses tutor a student in methods of teaching and will make her/him a better educator.”

Zaman advised the education department to discuss the matter with experts in the field and then “they will understand the benefits of and the need for these professional degrees.”

All Primary Teachers Association (APTA) President Malik Khalid Khan told The Express Tribune that removing the professional course requirement for teaching posts would be a great loss to the teaching profession.

“Without proper training, how can a master’s degree holder manage students in schools?” questioned Malik Khalid. “These courses teach you how to manage students and other school affairs.”

The APTA president blamed the present government for creating hurdles and challenges for the education sector. With this new policy, the minister will be able to bring “all those near and dear” to fill vacant posts, alleged Malik Khalid. “This is the main reason behind the minister’s plan to remove the additional course requirement.”

Thousands have been spent by the poor in earning the additional BEd or MEd degrees, he added.

“If the K-P education minister really wants to improve the quality of education, he should concentrate on the terrible situation of the schooling system in the province.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2014.

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