Dr Syeda Saira Hamid
Undeniably, a leading quality education system along a spiritual and cultural heritage: schools, colleges and universities produce qualified and civilized people with advanced knowledge, skills and values to enhance the growth and development of a country. According to OECD Rapport (2010), the most effective way to raise educational quality is to modify initial teacher education and recruitment, and to develop new means to train teachers who are already in-service.
Currently, teacher training around the world is part of higher education. Consequently, it is imperative to develop synergies between pre-university, university and research levels, according to the evolution concerning teaching, learning and evaluation strategies. Universities should be involved into the process of developing the entire educational system and of emphasizing the benefits of education in society.
In the context of life long learning, continuing professional development (CPD) is meant for expressing continuity and coherence among different stages of a career. According to Euridice Rapports (2008), these types of training levels vary from one country to another: is always considered a right but varies between obligation and option.
While CPD is a professional duty in France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Iceland, participation in it is in practice optional. In Spain, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia, CPD is optional, but clearly linked to career advancement and salary increases.
In Spain and Luxembourg, teachers who enrol for a certain amount of training are eligible for a salary bonus. In the other countries, credits may be acquired via participation in CPD programmes and are taken into account for purposes of promotion. In Greece, Italy and Cyprus, CPD is compulsory for newly appointed teachers.
Quality education of any state helps a lot in bringing up the nation to excel on the globe. Unluckily, Pakistan has a scarcity of teachers in schools and the available human resources are not qualified enough to cope with the high standards of the global education system. Quality education has a tremendous influence on a civilization’s spirit, which holds an incredible part in sustainable development.
It rather acts as a defence system of a country. Undoubtedly, quality teachers are a major ingredient in the mechanism of quality education. As someone said “Good Teachers make good Schools, good schools make good learners and good learners make a good nation.” There is a growing consensus that “effective professional development” can improve teacher quality, yet it is very important to note that many researches do not support the consensus; putting a question mark on – “effective”. International researchers agree on the main features of professional development, which are:
i) Engages teachers for a long period of time inspite of workshops that last only few days.
ii) Focuses on combining content and pedagogy.
iii) Follows the teaching process in real classroom situations.
iv) Opportunities for practice at their work places, follow-up, feedback and reflection on learnt activities.
The question is how much of our budget do we have in hand for such activities? Or why not develop a low-cost local sustainable system for these activities? Considering globalisation goals, along vision 2030 agenda, mere CPD or in-service training is not an issue alone.
We have to look further in teacher licensing linked with advanced curriculum development, program accreditation of teacher education, and research based diagnostic trainings in the field. Multigrade teaching is our existing local challenge, yet neither any funding agency nor the existing CPD is focusing on it. CPD rather focuses on worthless activities, fake reporting and results, as stated by a third party validation report (2016). The purpose of training is not reaching the classroom level and learners are too far from the benefits of CPD trained teachers.
The rule is simple and very clear, that when a foundation is weak, one is likely to collapse.
The army does not traina common person for the country’s defence; it has its own system of recruitment and special academies, for the making of a loyal soldier and a patriotic officer. Then how can CPD alone prepare a devoted teacher? Why is teacher education not taken as seriously as the armed forces?
Why arewe unable to make good teachers from the very beginning on solid foundations? Now the Punjab government School Education Department istaking pains only to plan in-service teacher trainings in the form of new CPD program, and has quitely slaughtered the pre-service teacher education. It has been done by stopping the admissions in BEd (Honors) i.e., 4- years program in all the Government Elementary Teachers Training Colleges (GCETs) that were designed with a mandate for both, pre-service and in-service teacher education. Earlier, faculty of the twenty (20) Gets was fully trained with the latest collaborative learning pedagogy under the Pre-STEP USAID project to teach the said 4-years B.Ed/BSc.ED (Honors) programs.
The ban has also vetoed the cheapest source of getting a professional degree at district level along moral growth, spiritual maturity of future teachers. This has especially put females of remote areas at a disadvantage. Certainly, GCETS were performing as linked bridges or synergies between pre-university, university and research levels.
Hence, there is a sincere need to focus and revisit the root causes of this problem at local levels, otherwise, ill advisedly, we keep treating cancer with mere pain killers and allow it to become more severe.
We do not have more time for further experimentation in a profession that creates all other professions. Research based factual -framework at local levels for quality teacher education, including both pre-service and in-service, should be developed and followed to solve the issue on a permanent basis. We cannot afford to think otherwise.
—Writer is S.S.S (Biology); Focal Person Affiliation&Research Government College for Elementary Teachers for Women H-9, Islamabad