Three strides to avoid educational collapse in Pakistan

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Does this make sense? Certainly not; then how do we accept the similar in education sector? What do we mean when we say that this teacher is a born teacher? Have you ever come across the idea of “Born butcher”, “Born lawyer”, “Born President” or “Born nurse”? Then why to justify someone’s ability built over the years by trial and error method as “born teacher


Decisions, if taken by Pakistan Medical & Dental Association,what will be your first reaction?
1. We don’t need any house job for doctors, if we have in-built doctor genes by birth.
2. We can accept anyone to start practicing medicine if a person has a passion for it.
3. We allow only those skilled people to  cut off; surgery, if the person has least, seen someone doing dissection and feels motivated for it
4. Anyone who wants to serve medical sector can open a hospital ; we don’t mind having anyone as doctor.
5. We are endorsing hikmat, homeopathy and other conventional ways of treatments and it all depends on how much you can spend.
6. It is ok if you have teeth and your teacher also has teeth, you can practice as a dentist after just having some reading.



Does this make sense? Certainly not; then how do we accept the similar in education sector? What do we mean when we say that this teacher is a born teacher? Have you ever come across the idea of “Born butcher”, “Born lawyer”, “Born President” or “Born nurse”? Then why to justify someone’s ability built over the years by trial and error method as “born teacher

In Pakistan, almost everyone knows that our education model is not giving substantial products, but no one is ready to explain what to do? What is actually needed? Will that be enough to develop infrastructure of schools and lionizing them with fancy advertisements. You build buildings and provide furniture, yet the system is not delivering. Why? “What to do?” is more important than “This is not working”because one loses the right to criticize if he/she doesn’t have a plan.

We as a nation need to take following steps to avoid educational collapse.

1. We need professional Capitalism  
A teacher makes more acute decisions in a day than a surgeon does during brain surgery because engaging a brain is much more dexterous and demanding task. Think of an adult brain with a status “Yes, I know who am I” designing learning strategies and thinking in the shoes of an adolescent’s brain with a state “Who am I” (as explained by Dr Thomas Armstrong); needs to be more trained, more skillful instead of just being ‘born’. No one can deny that teacher needs more professional development and grooming opportunities than any other professions because he/she is desired to simulate an environment that should look like real life.

Finland, Singapore, South Korea and almost all OCED countries realized this datum; therefore no teacher can start teaching without a training of certain hours. During summer vacations hundereds of conferences, seminars and professional development opportunities are opened by a arrayof leading organisations and universities .The teachers take them as opportunity for their self growth, though they are developed countries and among the top lined, yet, they feel this as their professional obligation to keep learning. But, what do our teachers do during summer? I leave this question unanswered.

We have an allegory in Pakistan that anyone who is a graduate or masters can be an expert teacher too. I have many seen masters who are wonderful in their subjects but total failure as teachers because they didn’t know how to impart their own learning. This wasn’t because they were not ‘born teacher’ but because they rarely got exposure to teaching methods and understanding of metacognition.  This myth is so etched in higher education that though many learning activities take place at university level but no one is bothered to know “how to teach”.

Most of the teachers in especially in public sector and even in private sector don’t want to get trainings and if they do, they do it for certificates or for some free time out of their classrooms else with heavy heart if levied by the authorities. I have seen a workshop collapse arranged free of cost for public college teachers and they were laughing why they are asked to get training after 15 or 20 years’ experience.

No nation can be built as thoughtful if there is absenteeism of professional capitalism in education sector and we are suffering from scarcity of thinkers as teachers. A public awareness about this profession is needed to be brought than just labeling it “Holy” because it’s more demanding as a profession than a Holy activity. Both the public and private sectors need to introduce quality trainings not just ‘slide shows’ in the name of professional development but the ones that must stick to the teachers in their classrooms.

2. We need to change mindsets.
a) Know the significance of national curriculum: How many teachers we know have national curriculum that was for the first time developed in 2006?

A month ago, I was invited as a speaker in a teachers' training workshop ,where about 120 teachers were sitting in front of me. And I asked “How many of you have seen or know about our national curriculum?” The shocking moment for me was to see their dropped jaws , as if I asked about a non existingcreature. Our teachers don’t even know, what is the difference between a curriculum and a text book? Try it. Ask any teacher in public sector “What our national curriculum suggests?”You will get good goose bumps during this conversation. The state of the art national curriculum strongly recommends "Constructivism” but the misfortune is that even the big position holders who want to be recognized as educators and trainers ask “Do you mean educational constructivism or social constructivism?”  It is the moment, when you start doubting your own advocacy for change.
As curriculum defines the pathways of a nation, we have a wonderful document as our national curriculum, but we just need continuous revisions to keep it rationalized and get it implemented. Text books are references not the curriculum and we need to change the wrong perception.

b) Avoid obsession: Driving from Lahore to Peshawar on GT road, you will see hundreds of billboards by the school of different categories advertising their students’ grades. Can you imagine getting 1050 marks out of 1100? Even the sharpest brains can’t do it because cognitive learning theory confirms that we do not store information unaltered like the computers do. The ladder of inference endorses that we add meaning to the information that we receive and then we distort it when reproducing. Why examination data is not matching with the brain behaviors based on extensive research at neurons level? This is because something terrible happened in the mad race of scoring. Back in 90s if someone scored a B in O & A level; it was celebrated , but today ,the same B grader reappears. Someone who could score 80% in HSSC was fine, but today they want more . Culturally, we have reached to such a precarious point where cheating and bribing for examination is acceptable. The impact of such practices does not appear in a day , month , an year or a decade ,but after at least one generation . People don’t mind cheating and bribing in daily life because our education model taught them to do it for survival. Government and  universities need to think how these high scores can be controlled.This might a be a bad taste in the mouth of contemporary norms but in fact ,the one who scores 945 out 950 is either not a normal human being and keeps divine powers or questions the standard of examination paper and procedure.

The obsession of Science & Engineering turned the society into binary number system and people lost grey areas as thinkers, writers and poets. Either you score really high or hold an engineering or medicine degree to be respected by your relatives and neighbours. Such signs indicate the intellectual deficit of a country. We need to work on changing these mindsets and bring awareness that other professions are equally respectful like STEM. We need to realize that this madness has already inflated our degrees and scoring and pushing out generations to psychological disorders. Parents and teachers need to take stand to stop this brutality of mechanized education model introduced after industrial revolution. Policy makers need to devise laws to promote incentives for those who opt liberal arts, literature and social science as profession and remove the lid of pressure vessel to normalize the situation.

3) We need strong legislation: At this moment we have only one article “Article 25” introduced in 18th amendment in the constitution of Pakistan that simply narrates that every citizen has right to get education. That’s it? Don’t we need more legislation or everything can be inferred from this one sentence? There are numerous questions like “What type of education?” “How?” “Why?” those need to be addressed.  We need legislation to monitor quality of education. The biggest concern is not how many children are out of school ,but the ones who are in the school. What they are learning as future skilled manpower of country? Who is teaching them? What is taught and why? If national curriculum exists, how many teachers and schools in public and private sector are actually teaching the curriculum and not the text books? Motivation comes from incentives, respect and appreciation. Government should take initiatives to legislate to motivate teachers by respecting this profession and giving some incentives that will encourage thinkers to join this profession not discarded of all field only.

South Korea made compulsory to go through continuous professional development of teachers throughout their career and this practice made them able to stand at 3rd position in the world and we are at 133rd position. Ministry of planning and development can invite people who have expertise and exposure to the latest education models and can sit with them to suggest the Parliament on what legislation we need to save our public sector from a collapse and how to streamline private sector with our needs.

The sector of education is multifaceted. It has a softer side as well and that is empowerment of teachers to make them leaders in their realms. We can do it like other top education models sis and determined more to do. Just a little solemnintention and right direction can lead us to stand among top education models of the world.

About the Author:
Umair Qureshi is a teacher, educationist,TEDx Speaker, CEO of Leaders in Education & Academic Development (pvt) Limited, Founder and CEO of non-profit educator’s forum Islamabad ASCD connected community. Twitter handle: @ UmairSQureshi
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EducationForAll Pakistan: Three strides to avoid educational collapse in Pakistan
Three strides to avoid educational collapse in Pakistan
Does this make sense? Certainly not; then how do we accept the similar in education sector? What do we mean when we say that this teacher is a born teacher? Have you ever come across the idea of “Born butcher”, “Born lawyer”, “Born President” or “Born nurse”? Then why to justify someone’s ability built over the years by trial and error method as “born teacher
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