Pakistan’s educational system needs to change dramatically to meet the needs of the 21st century but any changes introduced needs to be sustainable over time said experts. Also, provincial governments will need to lead the change, as education is a provincial subject after the 18th Constitutional Amendment. They were addressing the inaugural session of an international conference on ‘In Search of Relevance and Sustainability of Educational Change’ organised by Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) in collaboration with United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Higher Education Commission (HEC), Islamabad.
Education needs to move with the times, to be responsive to the emerging needs of present day societies. This was well illustrated by an enactment of The Saber-Tooth Curriculum, a satirical commentary explaining how unexamined traditions of schooling can result in resisting needed changes, written by American educator and writer, Harold Raymond Wayne Benjamin.
Addressing the audience, renowned educationist and the chief guest, Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy said that the 18th Amendment has empowered the provinces to bring change, but they have failed to take any initiatives so far. “Pakistan presents a particularly challenging environment for affecting change, but there are some grounds for optimism. A clearer understanding of how the education environment can be better managed, both inside and outside the classroom, will doubtless be important in moving towards this goal,” he said.
Dr Greg Moran, Provost, AKU, addressing the session via a recorded video, stressed on the need to establish a link between relevance and sustainability in educational reforms if they are to have any impact on the quality of education.
In his introductory remarks, Dr Muhammad Memon, Director, AKU IED, stressed on the importance of setting a firm direction for improving the quality of education and reform efforts. “The education system needs to be made responsive, resilient and agile for leading changes for sustainability. Students need education that is holistic, relevant, meaningful and enlightening”, added Dr Memon. He also emphasised on the need for preparing a policy framework that recognizes teachers’ professional status and integrity.
During his keynote address via a video link, Dr Andy Hargreaves, the Thomas More Brennan Chair, Lynch School of Education at Boston College, highlighted the importance of teacher quality in effective and sustainable educational change. “There is no better sign of a system, community or society than how it treats, supports and develops its teachers,” he concluded.
Eminent scholars and experts in education will be presenting papers and participating in panel discussions over the three days of the conference.
The conference proceedings are to be published.
Fabeha Pervez, Media Executive, Department of Public Affairs, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, Karachi, on +92 21 3486 2925 or firstname.lastname@example.org