The Sindh Cabinet has approved a new teaching license policy, aimed at attracting talented youth to the teaching profession and raising the status of the profession.
This landmark reform aims to bring the same rigour and respect to the teaching profession as enjoyed by other skill-based professions, including medicine, accounting, law and engineering. New entrants to the field of teaching will be both required and incentivized to get professional training before seeking jobs.
Sharing his views, Provincial Minister of Sindh for Education, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities, Syed Sardar Ali Shah, said, “Conceptualising and bringing the teaching license policy to life has not been easy. However, I am grateful to Aga Khan University's Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED), Sindh Teachers Education Development Authority (STEDA), Durbeen and all other partners who have worked tirelessly to make this policy a possibility. The success of the next generation of teachers and students ultimately depends on its smooth implementation."
He further added that: “Sindh is the only province that has approved a teaching license policy, which represents a proactive approach to recognising the value and importance of effective teaching. With the policy in place, the Sindh Government has laid the foundation for a more robust and professional teaching workforce, which will have a positive and lasting impact on the educational landscape in the province."
The Sindh Government has already taken the first step toward rolling out the new policy. 700 new vacancies have been created for Elementary School Teachers (eligible to teach grades 1-8) across Sindh at BPS-16. Previously, Junior Elementary School Teachers (JEST) were being inducted at BPS-14 and were required to have completed graduation in any field. These new 700 vacancies will only be offered to graduates of the B.Ed. degree programme who have also cleared the licensing exam.
A growing body of research clearly establishes the value of effective teachers. Econometric research from the past decade shows that effective teachers can deliver three times the learning in a single academic year than ineffective teachers can.
As is well known, a good teacher can transform a mediocre curriculum into a very rich learning experience. This makes a strong case for education reform to focus on raising teacher quality and support. Teacher licensing is one of the ways to do so.
The teaching license sets a minimum standard for new entrants, which will raise the status of the teaching profession in public perception. This has been seen in several other professions, both in Pakistan and globally. In the short-term, improved public perception provides the justification for raising teachers' salaries. Long term, it helps attract talented youth to the profession.
Dr Farid Panjwani, Dean AKU-IED, shared, “A teaching license may appear to be for teachers, but it is, in fact, for children. It is to ensure that children's education is trusted to people who are capable, caring, and with whom they will be safe."
The policy preparation was preceded by a year-long research and consultation led by AKU-IED which culminated in a White Paper which was jointly launched by AKU-IED, STEDA and Durbeen in June 2022. Consultations were held among a wide range of stakeholders – Pakistani universities, school management, teachers, teachers' unions, parents and students. Scholars from several other institutions, including Ziauddin University, contributed to the policy writing efforts.
Under the new policy, Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) graduates can now apply to take a licensing exam. This licensing exam will assess both content knowledge as well as pedagogical knowledge. Upon passing the exam, they will be awarded teaching licenses in one of the three categories - elementary (Grades 1-8), primary (Grades 1-5) and secondary (Grades 6-12).
Existing, full-time, government schoolteachers can choose to continue employment as per status quo, or if they meet the requirements under the policy, may opt to apply for the licensing exam and expedite their promotions. Contractual teachers in government schools, who meet the requirements, can expedite regularisation through the licensing process.
This reform takes a unique position in the history of education in Pakistan. Most reforms have been driven and funded by the prescriptions of donor agencies. They have seen mixed results and have generally died out once donor support ends. In comparison, this teacher licensing policy has been initiated by the Sindh Government and has been developed in consultation with Pakistani academia, teachers, unions and other stakeholders.