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The challenge of teacher training in Pakistan

By Staff Writer

While it does not necessarily yield a high salary or as much prestige as medicine or engineering, teaching is still a much-coveted profession in Pakistan. This is indicated by the large number of Pakistanis who seek to enroll in the country's teacher training programs.

However, there remain many challenges in the area of teacher training. Most notably, the lack of adequate programs in terms of number, as well as the curriculum of some of these programs.

The importance of teacher training cannot be underestimated. The better a teacher is trained, the better he or she can educate tomorrow's generation of Pakistanis.

In fact, a joint study by Harvard University and the Academy of Education Planning and Management in Pakistan shows that math scores for students in grades four and five rose with the level of their teachers' level of education.

In addition, teacher training doesn't just positively impact a teachers and students' knowledge of a subject matter. The teaching method used to share information by teachers helps children not only stay in school, but also engages young students and encourages them to keep learning. Reports on primary education in Pakistan, for example, have noted that 'fear of punishment' and the 'harsh treatment by teachers' are key reasons for primary school dropout among students (Morton 1992 and Semiotics Consultants 1994). This clearly stems from a lack of proper teacher training.

Teacher training in Pakistan is primarily a provincial responsibility. Generally, applicants to most teacher training institutes outnumber the spaces available. But the shortage is not just in spaces. It is also found in the lack of facilities for this endeavor, especially in certain places like Balochistan, and particularly for female teachers. This is a tragedy considering that Pakistan's rate of female literacy is abysmal.

Pakistan's federal level of government also plays a role in teacher training through its Curriculum Wing, which is also responsible for teacher education institutions. Primary school teachers seeking employment in government schools are trained in three ways: through Government Colleges and Elementary Education (CGETs), the distance education program of the Allama Iqbal Open University, and teacher training courses administered in high schools. The graduates of these institutions are taught a similar curriculum, and receive the Primary Teaching Certificate (PTC) at the end of a course that lasts one year.

About 12,000 teachers are trained in the 76 GCETs every year, and close to 8,000 are trained through the distance learning program. In some provinces, crash courses have also been arranged to reduce the backlog of teachers who are not trained for their jobs.

In terms of the country's private schools, a number of the major ones have their own teacher training program.

To be accepted into the PTC course, an applicant must have a minimum of ten years of schooling. However, the government of the province of Punjab raised this bar recently and fixed the minimum to12 years of schooling for admission to the PTC course.

Although the PTC course is for only one year, in reality is usually much shorter. An additional problem is that the curriculum for pre-service training is overloaded. In general, the courses do not significantly improve a teacher's knowledge of a particular subject matter or teaching skills.

A study conducted in the province of NWFP found that entrants had poor proficiency in math and science. Even more disturbingly, there was little difference in teachers' performance after completing the course.

Another study revealed there was no major difference in the teaching practices of PTC teachers and untrained teachers, or between graduates of the PTC course from different systems

It is clear then that pre-service training of teachers in Pakistan is sorely lacking at a time when education for a nation in a globalized world is more important than ever before.

In terms of in-service training, this is the responsibility of the Curriculum Boards and Extension Centers. The provinces have given in-service responsibilities to one or more CGETs. There are three different types of in-service training: training of untrained staff in full-time crash programs that last three months; refresher courses that last for a short period of time; a few private initiatives such as the Ali Institute of Education in Lahore and the Teachers' Resource Center in Karachi.

Every province has an Education Extension Center responsible that is in charge of in-service education. The aim is to provide one in-service training session to each teacher at least once every five years. But these sessions are fewer than the number of teachers as indicated by a study of in-service refresher courses in Punjab. This study found that the courses reached an nominal number of teachers. For instance, in 1988, 16 refresher courses were offered to only 4,400 teachers, out of a total teaching corps of nearly 180,000.

Some institutions have taken it upon themselves to try to fill the gap. A leading institute specializing in the training of private school teachers is the Ali Institute of Education (AIE), which was founded in 1992. This organization imparts teacher education for primary school teachers in both the public and private sectors. So far, 205 teachers have benefited from pre-service training. There are 104 teachers currently enrolled in the program. About 95 percent of the trainees are female, with most of them coming from lower-middle income backgrounds. About half of them receive financial aid from the institute.

The institute also has an in-service training program. About 2,200 teachers have benefited from it, about 80 percent of whom are female. Close to the same proportion belong to rural areas.

One in-service training experiment is the Field-Based Teacher Training Program, which was started in the Northern areas of Pakistan in 1984. In essence, this is an unusual way of teaching the PTC syllabus. It trains teachers to give up some of the unproductive, traditional practices which are prevalent in rural primary schools.

This program adopts a new approach in teaching , which shifts the emphasis from the teacher to the student as the center of the teaching-learning process. The most distinctive feature of this program is the practical application of the theoretical concepts that are taught in the classroom of the PTC course.

While these and other initiatives are welcome, it is clear that the quantity and quality of teacher training program in Pakistan must improve in order for the next generation of Pakistanis to be better educated and better citizens than previous ones.

Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:45:04 PM

Readers' Comment

sonia Z: 6/16/2005 8:52:41 PM
i found this article quite interesting, i live in australia and am doing a teacher training program at the moment. i was wondering if you could help me or point me in the right direction to find out how to go about finding work in Pakistan in the Primary Education Sector as i am looking to come for a working holiday at the start of the new year. thankyou.

RizKhan: 12/16/2005 12:02:28 PM
hi sonia,this is rizwan khan from Lahore,doing my MA.ELT.i guess when u visit pakistan, u need to visit all the major univesities like Panjab, Allama Iqbal Open university, i hope u'l get something usfull after visiting thier education departments, feel free to contact me ,i might can help u out.

Mah-i-Laqa Rafiq: 12/29/2005 11:38:14 PM
I have read this article. It has some very important information but witout source. can you please give the soure or refrences used in this article. Cheers

muhammad Mushtaq: 5/18/2006 9:37:45 AM
hi,i am studnt of research at keele. i am wiriting an assignment on coparison of teachers training in pakistan and uk particularly focusing on B.ed and pgec i read ur paper it was very useful and it gives some insight to teachers training i appriciate and pray for u to carry on. thanks

Mrs sadia zaheer: 11/3/2006 8:02:42 AM
As a teacher tariner at the GECT level Iam fully agreed upon the writer's views regarding the ill mananged curricula for the primary school taechers as well as the over loaded syllabus on the other hand the non serious attitude of the taecher trainer in the said colleges is also playing a key role in the detoriation of the primary school teachres.But teh questions remains un answered WHEN and HOW the poor state of teacre education will be modified?

Sibghat Ullah Bajwa : 1/10/2007 1:32:57 AM
It is an informative artical but it needs classification in varios areas of teacher training.References create cruisity for further reading,so references should be included. thaks writer.

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