Karachi: Children and 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 10th International Conference organised by the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development.
Dr Sayed, 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.
He also 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.
Dr Marie 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.”
Discussing her research on schools run by philanthropic organisations, she spoke about howteacher 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.
This was 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.
An invited 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.
At the 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.”
Other key 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 practioners.