Teachers have been pivotal in helping in the re-building of communities hit by natural calamities such as the floods in Pakistan, the earthquake in Haiti or by economic instability like the global recession which has devastated many developed countries in the past few years, provided they have the training, said experts on the first day of a conference on education at Aga Khan University. This three-day international conference is the result of collaboration between Aga Khan University Institute for Education Development (AKU-IED), Department of International Development, UK, Campaign for Quality Education, Aga Khan Foundation, Pakistan, and United Nation Children’s Fund.
Teacher education and higher education institutions have an important role to play in developing programmes that can help teachers to prepare for complex situations and challenges, including natural disasters and civic emergencies. Speaking on the occasion, Dr William Doe, Provost, AKU pointed out “there is an urgent need for the synthesis of the knowledge available both locally and globally.” There are plenty of examples on how the education sector can and should respond and this should become part of what teachers are taught.
Addressing the audience, the Chief Guest Dr Aziz Ali Najam, Provost and Associate Dean, Shifa Medical College, Islamabad, highlighted four key areas that need to be considered in reforming teacher education: technology, globalisation, human value systems and the divide between school and higher education institutions. Talking about technology and globalisation, he stressed that there is a need to make students think of the universal principles of humanity, especially of those that unite people rather than divide. Also educational institutions should assume responsibility for character building and instilling human values in their students through an effective teaching / learning experience. He concluded by saying that there is a need to create a dialogue between schools and higher education fraternity so that students are adequately prepared with the skills for further studies.
Teachers need to “continually learn and exercise reflective practices that can help them become lifelong learners,” said Dr Muhammad Memon, Director, AKU-IED. With rapidly changing scenario in education and the introduction of education reforms, it is not possible to follow the traditional teaching styles and old concepts in education.
The conference will continue for the next two days.