Teaching is a sacred job.With three parallel systems of education, Pakistan is really unfortunate to have a meagre budget for education, besides there are only nominal incentives for the human resources involved. There are a total of 413,000 primary school teachers in Pakistan. The number of teachers for middle — and higher-levels is 375,000 and 518,000, respectively. These statistics don’t include those serving as teachers at vocational training centres, colleges and universities.
The number of teachers at Madaris stands at 76,852 (male) and 34,783 (female).
Teaching is an art as well as a skill, and of course this art and skill needs to be developed and refined to ensure a conducive learning environment for students. A good teacher is a doctor who heals ignorance and inspires creativity.
Our public education system follows a set criteria for selection of teachers from among candidates with Bed or Med certificates. But how far is the content taught in Bed and Med studies in sync with our national curriculum? And, how frequently is it reviewed and updated to meet the needs of students?
The capacity building of teachers is the key issue here. At times, masters, MPhil or PhD degrees alone don’t make a person good teacher. We have well-established teachers training institutes at provincial levels that offer trainings in a diverse range of courses. Keeping in view the challenges faced by our society, teachers have a pivotal role to play in combating growing intolerance and extremism. Thus, their training needs to be modified to cope up with these challenges.
Though each age group and education level may have specific requirements, nonetheless, the role of a teacher remains vitally important across the board. Being role models, teachers effect students multi-dimensionally.
I think apart from the mastery of their subjects the most important area of development for teachers is soft skills which we usually see missing.
A teacher needs to be trained first of all on psychological needs of primary, middle and high school students. It is observed that the element of affection and love is associated with early years and primary education but let me stress that all age groups have to be dealt with love, affection, and care.
Making students believe in peaceful coexistence and acceptance of diversity (religious, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural, etc) is only possible if our teachers also believe in these values. Our teachers need to be trained on understanding of religions, sects, and culture. In simple words, first they need to accept diversity on their own, the value will naturally trickle down to their students. Unfortunately the narratives in history and Pakistan Studies, at times, use very negative expressions to refer to non-Muslims. While teaching, personal, biased, and unauthentic opinions are shared very casually without realisation of the long-lasting dismissive impact they will have on a child’s mind.
The second most important skill a teacher needs to acquire is related to interpersonal communications, most importantly the art of listening. Communication skills are a blend of speaking and listening as is emphasised in the latest trend in teaching and learning, ie integrated and activity-based learning which involves both teachers and students. Secondly, since a teacher is always handling a diverse group, a refined communication skill would help in creating an inclusive environment, and a generation that would believe in inclusion and tolerance towards differences.
Transparency must be ensured when trainee teachers are nominated so that the best candidates avail the opportunity. Meaning that change is visible in not only the classroom and school environment — but also in society
A common refrain we come across is that we’ve never had good leaders as a nation. Teachers being leaders for future generations, we need to envisage a training for them that inculcates leadership skills blended with interpersonal skills.
Since the profession of teaching is rarely taken up by choice, the people opting for it as profession need to understand the sensitivity and responsibility of their roles as leaders in the lives of children they are dealing with on a daily basis. Interpersonal skills and leadership skills exercised successfully will boost up the confidence of both students and teachers, resulting in better leaders for future.
The last but not the least our teachers must also be trained on critical thinking and encouraging creativity and questioning. Students are rarely encouraged to ask questions, though it is also a fact that at times the large numbers of students and time constraints are major challenges, yet again it’s all about the creativity and innovation of the facilitator.
The training institutes at provincial levels are involved in trainings and capacity building sessions of teachers and school heads of all grades. Here I highlighted certain areas which need to be addressed on a regular basis, as capacity building is a continuous process and particularly in our system of education where certain proposed reforms and changes take years and years in implementation. The training sessions need to be designed upon the emerging teaching concepts and techniques. Again transparency must be ensured when trainees are nominated for training opportunities so that potential candidates avail the opportunity and change is visible in not only the classroom and school environment but also in society.
The writer has experience in the field of education and is currently working as a resource person in the development sector.
courtesy of Daily Times