KARACHI: If Pakistan wants to improve people's lives and boost economic development, teachers must be prepared to develop innovative practices tailored to the needs of their learners, said experts at the 10th International Conference organised by the Aga Khan University's institute for educational development (IED).
The three-day conference will host over 100 workshops, plenary sessions and presentations.
For quality education, a renewed focus on the three pillars of an education system - teachers, teaching quality and learning - has to be part of the education system, said experts at the conference. Only then can Pakistan take steps towards achieving the new global Sustainable Development Goals on education - to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
World leaders may have committed themselves towards ensuring that all children, regardless of their background, achieve relevant and effective learning outcomes but there is an on-going debate on what comprises relevant and effective learning and how this can be measured, said keynote speaker Dr Pauline Rose, professor and director of international education and research at the University of Cambridge.
Dr Rose suggested working towards a universal target that ensures that all children - regardless of their wealth, gender, or disability - complete primary school and achieve the basics in reading, writing and mathematics. What is important is adopting a "stepping-stones" approach to assessing progress for the most deprived, she asserted. "Where do we need to get to in the next five years and in the five years after that? If we don't stagger our assessments, we will lose sight of the most disadvantaged," she predicted.
The quality of teaching can be improved by incorporating the best practices from around the world but it is critically important that these practices are not transposed without understanding the students and their cultures, cautioned experts.
IED director Dr Sarfaroz Niyozov said that worldwide, education is witnessing a reinvigoration of indigenous knowledge and models, a welcome change in countries with rich historical and cultural traditions of teaching and learning such as Pakistan. Equally important is that one should not fall into the trap of romanticising the indigenous but assess "local models for their quality, equity and inclusivity", he said.
"Teachers' openness to and capacities for learning from multiple sources and challenging perspectives is the key to survival of teaching as a respectable profession and teachers as esteemed professionals," he claimed.
The conference's first day hosted several concurrent sessions covering 24 presentations and two symposia on subjects ranging from understanding teachers' sense of self-efficacy to transforming children from passive recipients to active participants through activity-based learning in primary schools in the coastal belt of Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2015.
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