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QAU contract professors | Education for teachers

QAU contract-based professors asked to apply afresh
Islamabad, May 11: The QAU syndicate, the highest decision-making body of Quaid-i-Azam University has decided that professors and associate professors appointed on contract basis would have to apply afresh with other candidates for the same posts when they are advertised.

The syndicate of the university met on Saturday after 7 months and discussed 71 various issues. Secretary Education Abdul Rauf, Higher Education Commission Executive Director Sohail Naqvi, PPP Information Secretary, Fauzia Wahab and QAU Vice Chancellor Qasim Jan also attended the meeting besides other members.

The contract-based professors have termed the decision as unjust since they have been performing their duties with utmost dedication and sincerity.

In the light of the above decision three senior most professors of the university would also have to apply again for the appointment despite that they have been servings for the last five or six years and had been appointed according to the rules following a proper procedure on leave vacancies.

It has been learnt reliably that the National Assembly Standing Committee on Education has also recommended the university even not to take up the issue of these three professors at the Syndicate meeting.

Though the body discussed the issue but gave its decision against the professors. It has also been decided that there would be five working days in a week and two days (most probably Saturday and Sunday) would be off days on the campus. The syndicate meeting also sent back the issue of GRE test (a condition for Ph.D. scholars) to academic council despite the fact that earlier the council had proposed to abolish the test. The Nation

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Education for teachers
All quarters of society lay great emphasis on the need for a qualitative improvement in education. The quality rhetoric usually focuses on a new curriculum or an improved education policy.

Therefore, each new government embarks upon curriculum reforms as a first step. Although the curriculum is an important factor in education, the key players who execute it in classrooms are teachers. It is a teacher's interaction with students, teaching tools and the school environment that gives birth to a real and vibrant curriculum.

The notion of quality education is thus incomplete without the empowerment of teachers as quality education is hugely dependent on what goes on in class. The professional development of teachers is considered pivotal for the profession. In Pakistan, a number of teacher education colleges offer degrees and diplomas, such as M.Ed., MA Education, B.Ed., and others at different levels. But in the last six decades, although a large number of teacher training degrees have been awarded, the impact of trained teachers remains questionable.

Besides the ineffectiveness of conservative teacher-education programmes, the phenomenon of private schools has emerged in the last two decades that made these lessons fairly redundant. In a number of so-called elite English-medium schools, teachers are hired on the basis of their proficiency in the English language. These schools have their own short-term training courses that focus on limited, point skills and usually miss the broader aspect of professional development.

Why are teachers' education programmes unable to empower tutors to contribute towards educational change? This is a question that needs to be raised in order to improve these courses. My experience as a teacher trainer tells me that a majority of these schemes are removed from indigenous realities as they are bookish in nature and are based on imported theories, which may be effective in other contexts but are irrelevant in Pakistan. Most programmes advocate foreign ideas which have long been abandoned by educators in other countries. Their lack of relevance to the context makes the processes of teaching and learning boring and ineffective.

In a typical teacher-training college, students are exposed to maximum bookish knowledge and the teaching practice is dovetailed in one module as a peripheral activity. The practice lessons are arranged in an artificial environment and are of little use in real classrooms. It is important to observe that most of these colleges follow a conservative mode of teaching based on the transmission of knowledge. Another major problem in teacher-education institutions is the gap between professed ideas and actual practices - an educator may preach fashionable jargons such as participatory approach, communicative method, reflection in action, collegiality, but if the individual's own practice is the opposite, these sermons are bound to backfire.

The 'disconnect' between theory and practice is a major problem in our teacher education. Either trainees are bombarded with foreign theories or given some teaching tips, which renders the initiative incomplete and misleading. It is important to understand that theory and practice have a two-way relationship as they inform each other. Just giving tips or strategies won't make good teachers as they must understand and appreciate the rationale behind their performance in class.

This approach, which is in vogue in most teacher-education courses, emerges from the underlying assumption that teachers are merely consumers of knowledge and the thinking aspect should be left to others. As a result, budding teachers feel helpless and obliged to do as instructed. Therefore, teachers in most mainstream public and private schools act as mere technicians who carry out prescribed activities and go by a script. There is an urgent need to revisit our teacher-education system; the first and foremost change requires a re-conceptualisation module, which is crucial if existing educational notions and beliefs of participants are to be undone. Teacher educators need to eliminate any gaps between what they profess and what they do in a classroom. Second, these programmes should make use of indigenous knowledge and examples to help teachers see the relevance of what is taught in school. Also, special efforts are required to inculcate a spirit of enquiry, which is imperative in this profession. Teachers should be reflective practitioners who are able to deconstruct stereotypes.

Then there is the issue of bringing about a major change in attitudes in teacher-education colleges - a more expressive approach makes teaching interesting and effective. A good teacher is sensitive towards students and respects them and their ideas. Paulo Freire in his book, Pedagogy of Freedom, rightly considers humility as an important attribute of a teacher. Finally, teacher-education programmes need to work towards bringing about educational change, beginning with preparing teachers to return to their schools and strategise in order to cope with potential challenges. It must be remembered that merely churning out 'trained teachers' in a stereotypical manner will not attain desired objectives.

By Dr Shahid Siddiqui, the writer is a director at Lahore School of Economics and the author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan. (Dawn)

Your Comments
"UsSlmoAlkm, I read your comment and deeply believe the reality what you have mentioned. We desprately need improvement in our teaching procedures. I came back from Canada after 35 years and feel very sorry about this situation and offcource the whole situation. I am settled in Pakistan and associated with a foriegn business consulting firm. They also established a high profile intitution for professional skills. I wish to provide you further deatils, if you can help us in making intitutions and teachers understand the core value of your comments. jazkallah for your time. "
Name: adilmahmood
City, Country: Karachi, Pakistan

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NWFP primary schools summer vacations from June 1
Peshawar: The summer vacation for NWFP primary schools would start from June 1 to 31st August. This was already decided by the Elementary and Secondary Education Department NWFP while setting schedule of vacation for the year 2009-2010 for all the schools within the province. According to detail, the summer vacation will be started from June 1to 31st August (for primary level) and June 15 to August 31 (for middle and above level). Moreover, winter vacation will be observed from Dec. 25 to Dec. 31. Similarly, in hilly and snowy areas summer vacation will be observed from July 1 to July 31, while winter vacation will be observed from Dec.25 to Feb. 28, 2010. F.P. Report

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Pak students develop first-ever hovercraft
Islamabad: When it comes to the talent, we Pakistanis don't say it rather mean it. When you talk of proficiency; we stand distinguished and dignified despite shortcomings.

Even lack of resources and deprivations; cannot deter our way, when we are determined to achieve any milestone. Our talented chaps can vigorously reach the target and win prestige and distinction for the country globally.

This time the laurels were won by Mohammad Naeem Khan, Zaki Hussain and Mohammad Qasim - the second-year students from Sir Syed Science College, Rawalpindi, by developing country's first-ever hovercraft. A project sponsored by Intel under 'Intel ISEF Awards', made these students to excel in the field of technology to develop this machine having capability to lift weight upto 350 kilograms.

Jubilant to be inventor of the first-ever hovercraft, they feel proud to be Pakistanis.

"We are happy. We feel pride to win laurels for our country and becoming forerunner in this field," they expressed unanimously, manifesting the same spirit that made them achieve this target.

"Now we are preparing to visit United States to participate in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). We would enlighten the world of the talent, we Pakistanis have," they added.

The visionary students will be exhibiting their project at the fair later this month.

ISEF happens to be the only global science competition for students in grades 9-12. This year's programme will include a record number of 1,557 high school students from 51 countries presenting 1,241 projects. The finalists are selected annually from more than 550 affiliated fairs around the world. Each affiliated fair can send its top two individual projects and one team project to the fair.

"We see great potential in our youth. It is just the matter of harnessing it," the optimist inventors observed whose achievement has validly been lauded by experts.

Hammad Hassan, speaks volumes of these guys. An expert over the subject, Hammad defines their work as a great job. "These students have done a brilliant job. It was not an easy task, as there were a number of essential designs and construction principles they had to adhere." "But with some good guidelines or instructions, some handiness with tools, time and patience, success is guaranteed. Of course, you can always buy one instead of developing a new one," he added. The News

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