Military operations effects on NWFP education sector
Military operations badly affected education sector
Peshawar, Oct 26: The militancy and military operations in parts of the Frontier
province and adjacent tribal areas have badly affected the already neglected
education sector the most. An evidence of this was the NWFP government's
decision to keep all the educational institutions closed for another week.
After a pause of about seven days, educational activities in almost the
entire country are being resumed today, but students across NWFP and the tribal
areas would not attend their classes as per the directives of the provincial
The NWFP government at first was reluctant to close down the
schools despite announcements by other provinces to pause educational activities
for some days due to the wave of terrorist activities across the country.
However, the suicide blasts at International Islamic University, Islamabad
followed by defusing of two bombs at a girls' school in a suburban locality of
the provincial metropolis forced the government to close all the public and
private sector schools.
And now when the Inter-Services Public
Relations, federal government and other provinces have announced reopening of
the school, the Frontier government has decided to extend the unusual vacation
for another week for security threats.
Education has certainly been
affected the most by the specific law and order situation in the province and
tribal areas for the last more than one year. With the surge of militant
activities in Swat and elsewhere in the province, schools, particularly the
girls' schools have become the targets of the militants who continue with
torching and blowing up sprees.
Around 200 educational institutions have
been blown up in Swat alone. Similarly scores of schools were damaged in the
twin districts of Dir, Bajaur Agency, elsewhere in the province and tribal
Then came the military operation due to which the students and
their teachers along with their families had to shift to the safer districts in
search of peace, depriving them of studies for about four long months. The
government offered some relaxation to the students by awarding them one-step
promotion, but this cannot compensate for the loss of their precious time and
The higher secondary education students had to miss their
examinations. Though the board declared all of the intermediate students of
Malakand division qualified and awarded them marks equivalent to the marks they
had obtained in their previous class, many students were not happy with it, as
they thought that they failed to acquire seats in the professional - medical and
engineering - institutions for not appearing in the examinations.
only the students of the militancy and military-operation-affected areas, but
those of the non-affected district also suffered loss of time, as their schools
and colleges were used to house the internally displaced people for several
months and they had not been able to attend their studies.
interesting is the sufferings of the students of the remote Chitral district
where there exists no law and order problem. But with the announcement of the
government about closure of education institutions, educational activities came
to a halt in Chitral as well.
The two-week closure of schools would
affect the cold regions of the province the most, as the management of
educational institutions are planning for long winter vacations there and the
teachers and students want to cover the specified portion of their courses
before the winter vacations.
In Peshawar and other central districts,
where the studies of the students are being affected due to the closure of their
institutions, many of them will have to face a delay in examinations and
The Board of Intermediate & Secondary Education Peshawar
has postponed its practical tests of the ongoing secondary school certificate
examinations. Khyber Law College University of Peshawar has delayed its exam.
The University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar has also suspended its B
Tech examinations. The University of Peshawar cancelled its tests for admissions
to the MA/MSc. New dates for the examinations have not been fixed yet. The news
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Teachers role in the process of learning
Lahore: The teacher's role in the process of learning is central. Teachers interact with
students and teaching materials and in the process play a vital role in the
improvement of education. Recognising this, teacher education programmes are
available at the national level for the 'training' of teachers.
interesting to note that though there are some quantitative attributes of good
teaching, beyond a certain level teaching becomes qualitative and difficult to
measure. That is why teaching is considered simultaneously a science and an art.
The latter attribute is difficult to quantify and thus even good teachers are
unable to give a recipe for good teaching.
As a teacher educator I have
observed that teachers are generally fed on 'given knowledge' and are prepared
in the narrow and confined alleys of 'training'. In this paradigm teachers are
considered consumers of knowledge and are given a set of strategies in the name
of training to be used in the classroom. There is no role for the teacher's own
reflections or personality in this paradigm. Teachers consider themselves
helpless and do not dare take initiatives based on creativity and innovation.
This view of the teacher is perpetuated in most of our teacher education
programmes. The ultimate outcome is that mechanical gadgets and acts have taken
over our classrooms and have turned them into dull places devoid of life.
I have worked with teachers in different contexts in Pakistan. My
impression is that there is tremendous potential in our teachers but they lack
confidence in themselves. One major reason for this lack of confidence is that
teachers are trained to rely on the crutches of techniques and fashionable
jargon. I have been asked one question a number of times by teachers: 'what is
the best teaching style?' This question usually emerges after discussions on
theories of education or teaching styles. One purpose of such discussions
in a teacher education programme is to expose the participants to the
various possibilities in terms of historical developments and philosophical
Another important point to consider is that for teaching
purposes issues are put into different slots for the sake of explanation through
comparison and contrast. In real life, however, we do not find such watertight
compartments as perspectives may overlap. The question 'which is the best
teaching style?' is in fact a desire to have access to the 'ultimate recipe' for
good teaching. However, there is no single, fixed, recipe for good teaching.
The individual style is the best style. This response focuses on the
personal role in teaching, which means how the teacher's own self is used to
make sense of texts and their context. The role of the self makes the process of
teaching and learning more meaningful and helps teachers make modifications
according to the needs of the learners.
This blend of the teacher as a
professional and a person is vital for effective teaching. Each teacher has
different experiences and different strengths. Thus instead of longing for the
best teaching style a teacher may come up with a style based on his/her own
This, however, does not mean that knowledge and research
should become irrelevant. On the other hand a teacher must have awareness of the
latest happenings in the field. But knowledge should not be taken at face value.
It is the teacher's own personal practical knowledge that makes the learning
How can a teacher realise the significance of
his/her own practical knowledge? Most of these programmes have stereotypical
curricula, which is executed through highly conservative teaching methods, where
participants are bombarded with 'knowledge' and their own reflective faculties
are either denied or underplayed.
The result is that in Pakistan
although we find thousands of 'trained teachers' who have got certificates in
teaching, the majority have just passed their exams by cramming the contents.
There is little change in their concepts, teaching methods and
attitudes. Such 'trained teachers' are unlikely to bring about any positive
change in the lives of students.
One can identify a number of factors
that play a part in the sustainability of educational change in a school. Some
of them include school policy, the cooperation of colleagues, role of the head
teacher and the expectations of the management.
All these factors are
valid but a very important one in sustainability is the teacher's own
personality and role. If the teacher, at the individual level, is enthusiastic
and motivated there are greater chances that he/she can play an effective role
in educational change and in its sustainability.
It is this individual
factor that is missing in our teacher education. There is an urgent need to make
teachers realise how important their 'selves' are. Teacher education programmes
need to prepare teachers to recognise, enrich, enhance and apply their personal
experiences in classrooms.
Teacher education in Pakistan can only become
effective if it crosses the narrow alleys of training and enters the open field
of education. The change requires a shift at the conceptual and pedagogical
levels, as well as a change in attitudes. This is only possible when teacher
education programmes stop producing mere technicians and start developing
The writer is a professor and director of the
Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore School of Economics. Dawn
"Importance of Teachers training can not be denied, but the fact remains that despite spending heavy amount on teachers training in the past 60 years, there are frustrating results in shape of ever deteriorating quality of education. "Why" is the unsolved question? Answer could be found in the fact that "Education" lies beneath the bottom of our national and individual priority list. Government allocates less that 4% in the budget whereas individually teaching is nowhere at priority list as profession (i.e. no place for teachers in CSS examination cadre because there hardly is any candidate with talent to go far teaching profession). With all respect for the teachers, the bitter fact remains that leaving alone the exceptions "Teachers" are from that portion of society which could not pave its way to any other profession. We have one of the best Armies in the world because we spend most of our resources on the same. We have talented Foreign service-men, doctors and engineers etc for the obvious reason of financial impact behind every cadre. Unless "Education" is given importance on national agenda every effort will be futile and superficial"
Name: Arshad Mehmood
City, Country: Gilgit, Pakistan
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Government, private schools security
Islamabad: Schools across the country, shut down following the attack at the Islamic
University in Islamabad, are adopting additional security measures in the hope
that this will enable them to keep their pupils safe. Boundary walls are being
heightened, security gates installed, guards hired. Some have erased the names
of their institutions from boards installed outside buildings and from buses.
The question is how long this can continue for and what impact it will have.
Bomb drills are now a routine part of life at schools; administrators have found
themselves considering aspects of management that have never before been a part
of their duties. The Punjab government has said schools will remain closed till
However, there is little reason to believe there will be
any dramatic improvement in the security situation soon. The conflict in
Waziristan could continue for weeks. Even if it is short, there is no guarantee
at all that the threat from militants will go away. The groups carrying out the
latest spate of attacks after all come from many places. We need to think what
this means for all of us. The impact goes beyond the question of disrupted
education. The trauma experienced by children is real and intense. Some are too
terrified to go to school. Others ask why the bombers want to kill them.
Whispered rumours that flow quickly through campuses add also to the sense of
fear. This too is something that needs to be addressed. The terrorists have, in
psychological terms, acted wisely. They are aware that the threat to children
arouses the worst sense of terror for many. The security apparatus and the
governments in the provinces and the centre need to sit together and plan how to
deal with this menace, so that children grow up in a world that is safe and not
as prone to violence as the one they see around them now. The news
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Books, the online price war
London: Independent bookshops in the US have urged the justice department to investigate
a "predatory" online price war between huge retailers such as Wal-Mart, Amazon
and Target that has cut the price of hard-back bestsellers to $9.
by popular authors including John Grisham, Stephen King and Barbara Kingsolver,
typically selling for $25 to $35, have been the subject of deep discounts by
powerful US players this month in a battle for online supremacy in book sales.
The American Booksellers Association says the consequences will be
"catastrophic" if the price cuts continue, with small stores at risk of closure
and creativity left in jeopardy.
"If left unchecked, these predatory
pricing policies will devastate not only the book industry, but our collective
ability to maintain a society where the widest range of ideas are always made
available to the public," the ABA warned regulators.
The price war broke
out a week ago, when the largest US retailer, Wal-Mart, cut some pre-order
prices to $10. The titles include a memoir from the former vice-presidential
candidate Sarah Palin and a volume of short stories by Grisham.
and Target matched the cuts and the three have slugged it out, cent by cent:
Amazon went down to $9 in the US, Target cut to $8.99 and Wal-Mart went one
better, down to $8.98. In Britain, discounting has been less extreme, although
Amazon is offering advance orders of Grisham's book at £10.44, compared with a
recommended retail price of £18.99.
Local bookshops in the US say the
big retailers are selling far below cost, losing up to $8.50 a book to lure
customers to their websites. "They're using our most important products,
mega-bestsellers, as a loss leader ... The entire book industry is in danger of
becoming collateral damage in this war," the ABA says.
Wal-Mart and its
rivals have shrugged off the criticism, arguing that they are simply offering
attractive prices to customers during a period of economic hardship. -The Guardian
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Schools in S. Arabia, Turkey shut
Riyadh: Authorities in Saudi Arabia and Turkey ordered schools to be closed in
various parts of the two countries after three people died from swine flu.
Saudi Arabia shut two schools in Qassim province northwest of Riyadh
after two students died from swine flu, a newspaper reported on Sunday quoting a
government statement.The deaths took the country's toll from A(H1N1)
virus to 39.
Saudi Arabia has intensified its
watch for swine flu outbreaks amid concern the disease could spread among some
two million foreign visitors arriving over the next month for Haj In
Turkey, Ankara's governor ordered all schools in the city shut down after a
person died of swine flu.
Onal said schools would remain closed for a week starting from on Monday.
The number of swine flu cases in Turkey stood at 958 on Saturday, the
ministry said. Dawn
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