World Teachers’ Day 2008 at Bureau of Curriculum(BoC), October 11, 2008

"Exploring Spaces & Modalities for Professional Development"

 

The Minister Education Balochistan, Mr. Shafiq Ahmed Khan, emphasized the need to upgrade teachers skills and standards at the Social Dialogue held for World Teachers’ Day 2008 in Quetta on October 11, 2008. Over 60 teachers and educators gathered from Balochistan at the Bureau of Curriculum, Department of Education, Government of Balochistan, to reinforce that Teachers Matter for Quality Education and to “Explore Spaces & Modalities for Professional Development.  The workshop was co-hosted by the Bureau of Curriculum and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aaghi with support from UNESCO Pakistan.  There was a consensus that raising teachers’ status requires continuous professional up gradation opportunities based on quality assurance and recognized standards of professional practice. 
Balochistan has been the location for many rich experiences of networking ICTs and resource centres but their sustainability has always been a major challenge in a resource depleted province. There is strong evidence of a number of path breaking innovations undertaken in the province in education which have been acknowledged nationally and globally embedded in large projects such as, the Balochistan Primary Education Project; Middle School /Science Education and Technical Education projects, ESRA and now EDLINKs.  Each one engaged with large scale professional development of teachers and managers both in-country and abroad.      
Three lively dialogues across experts and participants were held on experiences and challenges of: teachers networks; information communication technologies and cluster resource centres.  Practitioners from the Bureau of Curriculum, PITE, the   Balochistan Education Foundation, SCSPEB, IDSP, UNICEF and UNESCO presented their diverse experiences across public and private sectors, provoking lively debates and sharp recommendations. 

The experts included: 
Mr. Javed Iqbal Nasir, Director Bureau of Curriculum, Baela R. Jamil, ITA, Sohail Qadeer, Additional Secretary Education,  Department of Education, Govt. of Balochistan, Ch. Anwar –& Irfan Anwar SCSPEB,Ms. Sajida Naureen – University of Balochistan, Mr. Ghazanfar Ali – Abdul Razzak – Darroo Khan- Hussan Jan of the  Bureau of Curriculum, Mr. Ahad Khan – Balochistan Education Foundation , Mr. Farooq Akbar – CIDA   - Debt Swap Project, Hussan Jan- Mr. Inyatullah & PITE, Ali Naqvi – IDSP , Prof. Ijaz Ahmed – University of Balochistan, - and Mr. Nazar Mohammad Kakar- BoC.  
The Minister Education,  Mr. Shafiq Ahmed Khan and  Additional  Secretary Education   Mr. , Sohail Qadeer were present at the closing and opening session of the program as the chief guests. Welcoming them Mr. Javed  Iqbal Nasir Director of Bureau of Curriculum reminded the guests for focus on  merit based hiring of teachers, their continuous professional development and resources for sustainability of initiatives in these critical areas for quality education.              
Baela Raza Jamil, Chairperson  of Idara-e-Taleem-0-Aagahi   spoke at the opening and concluding sessions of the day long social dialogue highlighting the context of education, the crises affecting the teaching profession and the challenge of capabilities for reclaiming the status of teachers in terms of :  ensuring that teaching is recognized as a full fledged profession; teachers attain economic well being and the well –deserved social status.

Mr. Jawad of UNESCO congratulated the organizers for the rich day long social dialogue and shared the highlights of the Strengthening Teacher Education in Pakistan (STEP) and its nation-wide activities since 2008. He also informed the audience that this initiative has established the National Teacher Accreditation Council in collaboration with HEC; design of a  strategic framework for teacher education at the federal and provincial level including   National standards for teacher certification. He presented three research studies to the Minister for Education, Mr. Shafiq Ahmed Khan.

Key recommendations endorsed on World Teachers Day 2008  by the participants included:

 
 
    •   Teachers need opportunities for capability enhancement in decentralized locations such as resource centres and local networks which need to be institutionalized, requiring dedicated and continued financing.    
    •  The teachers associations need to be transformed from employee associations to professional associations
    •  There is need for regular monthly networking professional development meetings in designated clusters schools/resource centres for learning new standards.
    •  Teachers must be hired on merit as so that teaching can be recognized as a  profession and professional development programs yield positive results  
    •  Organized professional networks can be set up and/or strengthened at the GCETs   campuses across Balochistan, in  teaching outposts/TRCs,   NGO district offices,  which already support pre and in-service teacher education. 
    •  Tehsil or sub-district level networks of subject based science/maths/language/ECE  teachers need to be established   through public private partnerships
    •  Copies of the new National Curriculum 2006 must be available in high and middle schools, tehsils and district level institutions and preferably in Urdu . 
    •  The private sector schools need support in teachers training and standards through the Balochistan Education Foundation and the Bureau of Curriculum and PITE.  
    •  BEF needs to focus on teachers networks/resource centres establishment at the district and provincial level. 
    •  There are excellent innovations such as the Mobile Teachers Training programs, cluster resource centres, networks for professional development  which need to be sustained and  replicated by the government beyond mere donor  supported initiatives through mainstream funds
    •  Use and presence of ICTS is widespread in Pakistan and Balochistan within government, private and NGO sectors, these need to become more visible in the public sector through many initiatives, eg. EDLINKS for  regular  and cheaper  professional development. Many partners are willing to support the Govt of websites that host excellent learning materials for easy public access.    
    •  Government high schools and teacher training colleges with  IT  labs need to have efficient internet linkage as the cheapest and instant professional development opportunity  for sharing materials, sustaining networks and resource centres 
    •  Develop a provincial strategic plan for  ICT and learning technologies;
    •  Arrange visits to similar initiatives in other parts of Pakistan/other  countries.  
    •  Govt., private sector and donors are often supporting schools with libraries and these must include  some ICT based software such as :Microsoft Encarta ; Oxford Talking Dictionary, Teacher PowerPoint Presentations;  In-page, etc.  
    •  Cluster resource centres set up by govt. and/or private partners must not be too far and catchment  distance cannot be more than 10 kilometers.  

The highlights of the national teachers award titled “ the Anita Ghulam Ali Teachers Award 2008”. It is targeted at secondary science teachers across Pakistan. 10 best secondary school science teachers will be identified from across Pakistan. The first and second prizes are of Rs. 100,000 and Rs. 50,000 each. Details can be viewed at www.itacec.org . Deadlines for submission of forms and evidence is extended up to  November 10th , 2008.

The Education Minister in his closing remarks urged that the three year (2006-2008) valuable research commissioned by UNESCO on teacher education, accreditation and standards and policy framework must be shared widely to inform policy and its operationalization.  He reminded the audience that teachers’  are the backbone of any social system and their excellence needs to be celebrated throughout the year.  He urged that the recommendations of the social dialogue be shared with policy makers in Balochistan and Pakistan, the legislators, the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Ministry of Education, as the government is preparing to provide final shape to the  new  National Education Policy (NEP). The federal government must give special attention to Balochistan in terms of resources and programs.