Renewed Focus on Teacher, Teaching Quality and Learning: Localised Models and Practices
November 19-21, 2015
wants to improve people’s lives and boost economic development, then the
quality of education and learning is an essential foundation stone and teachers
have to be well-prepared to develop innovative but local 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.
This was the
discussion on the first day of the three-day conference that hosted over 100
workshops, plenary sessions and presentations.
failure in achieving ‘education for all’ is not just by providing access but by
assessing what children learn and the quality of their education experience.
Quality education contributes to economic growth with learning having a direct
impact on growth and development.
education, a ‘renewed focus’ on the three pillars of an education system, on
teachers, teaching quality and learning and particularly on learning that uses
evidence-based ‘indigenous’ models has to become part of practice. Only then
can Pakistan take steps towards achieving the new global Sustainable
Development Goals on education – Goal 4 to ensure inclusive and quality
education for all and promote lifelong learning by 2030.
leaders may have committed themselves towards ensuring that all children,
regardless of their background, achieve relevant and effective learning
outcomes in the next 15 years. But there is an on-going debate on what
comprises ‘relevant and effective learning’, and how this can be measured noted
keynote speaker Pauline Rose, Professor, International Education and Director
Research, Equitable Access and Learning Centre, University of Cambridge.
suggested tracking progress towards a universal target that, at a minimum,
ensures that all children – regardless of their wealth, gender, where they
live, or whether they have a 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. “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,” said Professor Rose.
of teaching can be improved by incorporating best practices from around the
world but it is critically important that these best practices are not
transposed without understanding learners and their local context and cultures
Niyozov, Director, IED highlighted 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”.
are central to the quality of student learning, teacher quality itself is
deeply connected to the quality of teachers’ own learning. “Teachers’ openness
to and capacities for learning from multiple sources and challenging
perspectives are key to the survival of teaching as a respectable profession
and teachers as esteemed professionals.”
day saw several concurrent sessions covering 24 presentations and 2 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.
particularly disadvantaged students learn if assessment information results in
change, in improvements in the methods and practices of teaching said Dr Yusuf
Sayed, keynote speaker on the second day of the conference.
Professor of International Education and Development Policy (Education),
University of Sussex spoke about how “we need to move from assessment of
learning to assessment for learning”, which supports learning rather than
judging achievement through tests or examinations. Teachers need to find out
what students know, partly know or don’t know so that they can focus on
activities that help learning. This helps children develop as capable learners
rather than view themselves to be poor students.
analysed what this means for teacher education, teaching and teachers when the
new global education agenda, Sustainable Development Goal 4 calls not only for
quality primary and secondary education for all girls and boys by 2030, but
also focuses on human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace
and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and
culture’s contribution to sustainable development. In such a scenario, the role
and the potential of teachers as agents of change become all the more crucial.
Lall of the Institute of Education, University College London, in her keynote
address on the third day of the conference, talked about how “In the continuum
between government schools and private schools in Pakistan, philanthropic
sector schools have started to try and solve Pakistan’s education crisis.”
her research on schools run by philanthropic organisations, she spoke about how
teacher quality is a key factor in ensuring better learning opportunities for
children from the underprivileged backgrounds. These teachers in the
philanthropic schools need to have the same in-depth pedagogical knowledge and
pre-service training that the government sector and private sector provide.
They need to be empowered as professionals whose contribution to their
communities is valued.
also echoed by Abbas Rashid, founding member and chairman of SAHE (Society for
the Advancement of Education), when he shared the findings from ‘The Voice of
Teachers: Learning from Teachers across Pakistan’ survey conducted in 2014. The
survey found that issues that have a bearing on teachers’ performance as well
as student learning range from government schoolteachers spending a quarter of
the academic year on non-teaching activities- from local election duties to
anti-dengue drives – to frequently changing textbooks and teaching in a
language, English or Urdu, that may not be the students’ mother tongues.
symposium highlighted the role of AKU IED in the field of teacher education and
in developing and validating localised models and practices in Pakistan. It focused
on how these models have impacted the teaching profession in terms of teachers’
competency, status and identity, as well as students’ learning outcomes. “These
models need to be scaled up to benefit a larger community of teachers and
learners”, said Dr Ayesha Bashiruddin, an Associate Professor and Head Research
and Policy Studies at AKU IED.
conference’s end, Dr Sadia Bhutta, Assistant Professor and the Conference
Chair, AKU IED summed it up as follows: “We need to rethink about how we teach,
about re-energising our teachers to have a vision of education for today and
tomorrow so that our children are members of their own communities as well as
citizens of a global society.”
speakers during the course of the conference included Professor Aziz Ali Najam,
Director Usman Institute of Technology, Karachi, and AKU’s Drs Elnasir Lalani,
Mir Afzal Tajik, Nelofer Halai, Sadrudin Pardhan, Mola Dad Shafa, Takbir Ali
and other scholars and practitioners.