A School Transformed
A Headteacher Striving for Change
With diligence, hard work, and commitment, a teacher can transform a school and provide better learning opportunities for his or her students. A school in Sujawal, Sindh exemplifies how teachers’ perseverance and sincerity for educational improvement transforms lives.
Government Boys Primary School Main Sindhi (Chandia) is an 80 year old school, located in Sujawal District of Sindh Province. Because of administrative issues and poor management, the school’s physical condition and academic performance had been rapidly declining over the past few decades. Children and teachers were irregularly attending, teachers were delivering lessons in a haphazard, unstructured ways, and students’ learning outcomes were poor.
This was until Nisar Ahmed Memon took charge as a Headteacher in 2008. Nisar is a mentor teacher trained through
STEP’s Cluster Based Mentoring Programme (CBMP), which is based on a collaborative approach to school-based professional development for teachers, teacher educators and educational managers. Having acquired the skills and knowledge to develop and implement action plans through STEP’s various training sessions and workshops, Nisar immediately began to apply his educational leadership and management skills within his school. He conducted regularly staff meetings to understand the challenges and experiences of his teachers, and imposed strict measures stipulating teacher punctuality.
Rather than being discouraged by his school’s limited finances, a challenge public schools throughout the country must contend with, Nisar Ahmed Memon devised his own strategy to make sure his students' educational experience would not be hampered by a limitation of funds. He established a fund for school improvement, requesting 50 rupees from school staff on a monthly basis. Nisar uses this fund to purchase reading and learning materials, small furniture, and equipment for the school.
However, the schools' problems were far greater than small financial issues. The school did not have any facilities for cleaning drinking water, toilets, furniture or a boundary wall; the existing school walls were in a dilapidated state and were in urgent need of repair and painting. Nisar Ahmed Memon consulted STEP’s District Coordinator, and together they formed a Citizen’s Community Board (CCB), involving teachers, parents, and other important community members. After registering the organisation with the Social Welfare Department, the CCB developed a School Development Proposal, matching funds and requesting more money for further school infrastructural improvement.
Currently 655 students (464 boys and 191 girls) are enrolled in this school, a drastic increase from the initial 170 students registered in 2009. The increase in enrolment is attributed to both the improvements in the school's infrastructure and to teachers' effective teaching methods. Rather than relying on traditional methods of teaching such as rote-memorisation, teachers have started to use cooperative learning strategies and they engage their students in creative, interactive learning activities that inspire and evoke curiosity for learning and education. The teachers in the school also acquired such new pedagogical techniques and teaching skills through STEP’s Cluster Based Mentoring Programme, that places great emphasis on both interactive teaching and learning and on integrating gender perspectives within the classroom. Moreover, STEP Mentor Nisar Ahmed Memon, with the assistance of STEP Project staff, also organises and celebrates events like Literacy Day, Pakistan Day, International Women’s Day, and other important hallmark days. Parents and community members are invited to attend and participate in the festivities, and hence have begun to take a greater interest in their children’s education. Lastly, because this school also houses a Learning Resource Centre, students have access to a diverse array of learning resources and reading materials. The Centre is also equipped with a computer that allows student access to online resources to enrich the learning experience.The school has become a hub for teachers' professional development and an inspiring learning environment for children.