The period from April to June 2013 was a busy one here at TRC. Despite unpredictable conditions in the country, our multi-school and customised workshops continued as usual. TRC brought its expertise to the table at various education-related foras such as at the Early Childhood Education organised by the Sindh Education Foundation and the Assessment for School Programme. Our popular media literacy programme screened two films, while the TRC-IECE alumni remained active, organising the reunion and attending study circles. For details, read below.
We Lost a Valued Member of the TRC Community
On June 10, 2013, Bashir Nasir finally gave up after a valiant fight with stomach cancer. He was at work as usual
up until June 08. Currently, he was working at Tiny Tots School; unfortunately we had lost touch with him. The loss is ours.
Those of you who were regular visitors at TRC in the 1980s and 90s will remember Bashir Nasir from St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College, with his passion for teaching young children to read Urdu using the Sauti Tariqa (Urdu Phonics).
He dazzled many of us with his method, which he kept developing and improving. At an early workshop, he invited a group of 4 and 5 year olds from Orangi. He had taught them to read. Workshop participants called out words, which Bashir Nasir wrote on the white board and the children … they decoded every word! Everyone was spellbound. TRC and Bashir Nasir worked together on several projects and he conducted many workshops for TRC. He was always just a phone call away …
TRC Conducts More Workshops for PARCO
• On April 10-11, 2013, TRC conducted a nine-hour workshop, titled ‘How Children Learn’ for the teachers of
public sector schools supported by PARCO’s CSR Programme in Shikarpur. Nighat Hasan and Tabinda Jabeen facilitated the group of 26 male and female teachers working with primary school children.
The objective of the workshop was to equip the teachers with a basic understanding of how children learn and the role and responsibilities of a teacher in creating an environment that is conducive to learning. The workshop participants found the different activities very useful and most felt that the session on the ‘Learning Environment‘ was the most interesting.
This was the fourth in a series of workshops requested by PARCO’s CSR Programme. The first workshop was conducted at the TRC premises in Karachi, the second was conducted in Mehmood Kot, Muzaffargarh at the PARCO refinery and the third workshop was conducted in Faisalabad. Please see our News Bulletin January – March 2013 for details.
• The fifth workshop was held in the PARCO station in Fazil Pur near DG Khan, and the sixth workshop was held in Machhike, near Lahore.
The participants in Fazil Pur felt that they needed to attend workshops of a longer duration and requested future sessions on lesson planning and managing children’s behaviour. A participant from Machhike, Mohammad Tanveer said, ‘I have eighteen years of teaching experience and have attended a number of trainings, but I found this training to be the most effective. Yesterday I did activities with the children of my class, which we learnt in the workshop. In the morning, I noticed the children singing the poems I had taught them while playing on the streets.’
Active Learning Workshop Kicks off at The Indus Academy
• The 50-hour Active Learning workshop, which began on March 25, ran for six weeks at The Indus Academy and concluded on April 30, 2013. Uzma Rauf, TRC-IECE faculty, conducted the workshop. The group of 22 pre-primary and primary levels teachers had some prior knowledge of the Active Learning approach. However, during the course of the workshop their existing paradigm of active learning was challenged.
Given that active learning was not a novel idea for this group, they still had many ‘aha’ moments. By week three, one teacher
shared her new learning that “… even in an active learning setting, children can be restrained and guided if their behaviour and attitudes are inappropriate and not conducive to their and others’ learning and development.” The rest of the group had similar views saying that children could not be left to do anything and everything they pleased; they needed to know their boundaries so that social norms within the classroom were not violated.
By the end of the workshop, teachers felt more confident and were keen to bring about changes in their classrooms and teaching practices in light of what they had learned. Most of them said that they were already practicing active learning in ‘bits and pieces’ but were now ready to be more consistent in their practices and to take on the challenges that would come with the change.
• Another round of the 50-hour Active Learning workshop at the Indus Academy concluded on May 31, 2013. Since the teachers were now on their summer break, this workshop was spread over two weeks with 5-hour sessions, five days a week, from Monday to Friday. This time, Uzma Rauf and Tabinda Jabeen conducted the workshop.
Of the 18 participants, two were teachers of Class 2 while the remaining sixteen belonged to different preschool levels. Even though a majority of the teachers were practising active learning in their classrooms, clarity in understanding and implementing the philosophy was still an area many of the teachers felt daunted by. However, one of the teachers said, “I feel the timing of the workshop was quite good, as it will enable me to plan appropriately for the new session.”
Workshop at Army Public School, Malir
In response to a request, a four-hour workshop on ‘Understanding the Needs of the Growing Child’ was conducted by TRC’s Rubina Naqvi at Army Public School, Malir on 13 June 2013. It was attended by 44 teachers who teach children of Classes I to III.
The workshop focused on the importance of understanding the needs of the growing child. Whole class discussions and group activity were built around reflecting on one’s own childhood experiences and being aware of the expectations and presumptions that a child brings to the class. The participants were candid in their sharing which helped them relate theory to practice in their role as a teacher. They displayed a keenness to learn and remained involved throughout the sessions. Learning activities were planned and presented effectively by the groups on how to meet the different needs of children. It was encouraging to see the teachers brave the hot and humid weather to remain active during the sessions.
Active Learning at Korangi Academy
Korangi Academy’s request to train their Junior Section teachers and introduce the constructivist philosophy to the school
started on June 24, 2013; it will end on July 5, 2013. This 50-hour workshop on Active Learning is being facilitated by, Tabinda Jabeen and Uzma Rauf at the TRC premises. There are a total of 18 participants, of which nine are preschool teachers, eight are primary level teachers and one is a section head.
The workshop, which introduced the Korangi Academy teachers to the National Curriculum for Early Childhood Education 2007, focused on child development, brain development, theories related to children’s learning and development, DAP (developmentally appropriate practices) and principles of quality ECE programmes, all of which are
highlighted in the curriculum.
This participative, hands-on workshop, which consists of brainstorming, interactive lectures, assigned readings, role-play, pair and group activities, is the first step in empowering the Korangi Academy teachers to implement the Active Learning approach to teaching and learning in their classrooms.
Multi School Workshops from April to June 2013
Working in an unstable environment means that TRC often has to continue its work against all odds; despite postponements and cancellations due to frequent strike calls in Karachi, TRC held eight workshops this quarter.
Two workshops were held in April: ‘Exploring the World of Science’ and ‘Teaching Comprehension – an interactive approach’ which were attended by 14 and 15 participants respectively.
In May 2013, TRC scheduled and held four workshops: ‘Making Every Math Minute Count’, ‘Dealing with Adolescent Behaviour’, ‘Understanding the Needs of the Growing Child’ and ‘Raising Phonemic Awareness’ were attended by 28, 22, 20 and 28 participants respectively.
In June 2013 two workshops ‘Teaching Literature at Middle School’ and ‘Building Learning Power’ were held; 30 and 15 participants attended these respectively.
School Evaluation Programme
• Shahwilayat Public School: In response to a request received from the trustees of Shahwilayat Public School, Rubina Naqvi from TRC conducted an evaluation of the school from February to May 2013. The evaluation focused on teachers of Classes 1-3 in the following areas, highlighted by the management: classroom management, teaching methodology and marking students’ work.
The school management identified 26 teachers for the observation; visits were made to the school to observe teaching practice in their classroom. A report with findings and recommendations was submitted to the Managing Trustees in June.
• The Intellect School: In response to another request received from the trustees of The Intellect School, TRC’s Rubina Naqvi conducted an evaluation aimed at promoting the professional development of the school’s teachers. The classroom observations and assessment focused on Lesson Planning, Classroom Management, Teaching Methodology and Methods of Assessing children’s progress.
The classroom practices of 25 teachers from Nursery to Class 7 were observed. Each teacher was observed twice, followed by an immediate feedback session, in which both the teacher and observer evaluated the observed lesson.
The programme concluded on 20 April 2013 with a 4-hour interactive workshop that highlighted good practices and also the areas, which need development. A report highlighting the findings and recommendations were submitted to the school management in May.
TRC Film Club Screens Two Films this Quarter
Whale Rider is about a Maori girl who fights to fulfil her destiny as the leader of a patriarchal New Zealand tribe. The post-movie discussion touched upon themes such as courage and determination, customs and traditions versus social contemporary values, attempting to prove one’s self and also gender discrimination.
The thought-provoking questions put forward during the discussion sparked a general consensus from the children with practically all of them agreeing that they needed the freedom to make decisions about their lives.
One girl said that she believed that once we decide something we must accept the consequences of our decisions. A boy summed up his learning by saying that if we truly believe in something, then we should firmly stand our ground in trying to achieve it, no matter how much resistance we face. Another boy bravely acknowledged that earlier he felt that women should not have any rights, but that the film had helped him see things from another perspective. It was inspiring to see a group of young teens sharing their opinions with so much confidence and clarity.
• On April 13 2013, TRC’s Film Club screened the Hindi film English Vinglish at its premises. Nine
teachers from public sector schools in Jamshed Town and one supervisor from Korangi Town attended the screening.
English Vinglish is the story of a woman, Shashi, who cannot speak English and is made to feel insecure by her family. This film depicts how circumstances help her overcome this insecurity and she transforms into a confident and self-reliant woman.
After the film, the participants were engaged in a discussion during which the audience responded very positively and shared examples from their personal life as well as from the classroom. They emphasised the supportive role of a teacher and also highlighted the importance of verbal and nonverbal language during a conversation. One of the participants shared that she learnt more from the discussion at the TRC Film Club than she could have even if she had watched the film ten times at home!
Rupani Foundation Envisions a National ECD Network of Pakistan
On April 11, 2013, Rupani Foundation hosted a discourse on Early Childhood Development. Their vision was to form a National ECD Network in Pakistan whose main objectives will be advocacy of ECD issues at a national level and to bring social and behavioural changes in society. Uzma Rauf represented TRC at this event.
Representatives from various fields and disciplines, from the government, semi-government and private sectors, attended the event. AKU-HDP, AKU-IED, HOPE, PAVHNA, PLAN International, the Reform Support Unit and TRC representatives, shared their experiences. A similar gathering was held the following day and the day after, in Lahore and Islamabad.
TRC Attends RSU Workshop
The Reform Support Unit (RSU), Education and Literacy Department organised an all-inclusive, interactive stakeholder workshop on April 25, 2013 in Karachi. The objective of this workshop was to get input and feedback on different sections of the Draft Sector Plan. Nighat Hasan and Tabinda Jabeen of TRC attended this workshop.
The event began with opening remarks from Saba Mushtaq, the RSU Chief Programme Manager. She acknowledged and thanked all the stakeholders for their input and support in the development of the Sindh Education Sector Plan (SESP). Ghulam Nabi, Deputy Programme Manager, SEMIS – RSU presented an overview of the Sector Plan. He talked about key areas of the plan i.e. access, quality, governance and the implementation plan. Following him, Naveed Ahmed Shaikh of RSU talked about the priorities and proposed strategies with regard to the key areas of SESP. Shafiq Ahmed, Secretary Education expressed his gratitude to all participants for their contribution and support.
After all the presentations, the participants were divided into ten groups to review different sections of the draft sector plan. They critically reviewed the objectives, the strategies, targets, activities and implementation plan for the sections assigned to them, and gave their feedback.
In the end, representatives from each group shared their input and comments, which the RSU will compile and share with participants at a later date.
Guest Speaker at PAF KIET Seminar
TRC was invited to PAF KIET’s MBA-Education Leadership seminar. On April 27, 2013, TRC’s Rubina Naqvi attended the seminar as a guest speaker. The seminar was organised by the students of the programme.
Students made presentations on Integrated Curriculum, Learning Spaces and Differentiation, as part of their requirement for the course on Curriculum Planning and Implementation. In her address, Rubina gave feedback to the students on their presentations and shared with them her experiences and views on the importance of the curriculum in the process of learning.
Guest Speaker at Debate Competition at Greenwich University
On 30 April 2013, Greenwich University invited TRC to their debate competition. Rubina Naqvi of TRC attended the competition as a guest speaker. The event was organised by the Faculty of English for its BBA first year students.
Participants debated for and against the following motions, ‘Intolerance is the root cause of violence in our society,’ and ‘Image is more important than knowledge.’ Three heads of departments judged the competition.
A Presentation to SEF
On May 03, 2013, TRC’s Farzana Kausar and Uzma Rauf made a presentation to the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) on the scope of TRC’s services. The presentation was made to Professor Anita Ghulam Ali, MD, SEF and her team members.
In sharing TRC’s vision and mission, the presenters shared the scope of services offered and also addressed questions from the audience, thus paving the way for an interactive session.
Questions from the audience focused mainly on the ECE programmes and training services offered. The team showed a lot of interest in the ECE Certificate Programme offered by TRC-IECE and were keen to understand more about the modes of evaluation and the assessment of teachers who enrol in the programme.
TRC at the SASIP Session
On May 03, 2013, TRC was invited to a session of the School Assessment for School Programme (SASIP), an initiative of the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA). This was a financial and market place session for its partner schools held in Karachi. Rubina Naqvi represented TRC at the event.
The programme provided partner schools with the opportunity to interact independently with teacher training institutes and discuss their needs with them. The institutes were in turn requested to share information about their services with the school representatives.
The market place session was preceded by presentations and addresses by the organisers of the function. While the hour-long market place session was insufficient for each school representative to have a meaningful discussion with the training representatives, the event was a meeting ground for school personnel and training institutes, enabling them to exchange contact details.
TRC and NDIE Commit to Renewing their Collaboration
On May 7, 2013, TRC’s Mahenaz Mahmud visited the Notre Dame Institute of Education (NDIE) and met with the Director, Audrey Juma, Deputy Director, Nancy Lobo and Martin to learn more about the technical aspects of their online courses. This was a long awaited meeting for both institutions and everyone present agreed that a future collaboration and support for each other’s work was in order. Areas for collaboration, such as TRC-IECE supporting NDIE’s M.Ed. students with an interest in ECE were explored. The use of the TRC library as a resource for ECE and faculty sharing (which we have done in the past) were also discussed. A meeting will be scheduled in July to work out details.
TRC Presentation at PARCO
TRC visited PARCO at their office on May 9, 2013. Rubina Naqvi and two teacher trainers, Nighat Hasan and Tabinda Jabeen represented TRC. The trainers had conducted an initial round of workshops at schools being supported by PARCO in different cities around Pakistan. Mr. Shah M. Saad Husain, GM Corporate Affairs and two of his staff members represented PARCO.
The purpose of the meeting was to explore possible future partnerships. A presentation was made about TRC’s services and learning resources. Mr. Husain expressed his appreciation for TRC’s initiatives and showed keen interest in the Pehla Taleemi Basta and the evaluation of PARCO-supported schools. Following a presentation by TRC and workshop feedback from the trainers, PARCO and TRC agreed that the second round of workshops for PARCO schools would commence in August 2013. A school evaluation by TRC in September was also agreed to.
Children’s Literature Festival in Islamabad
TRC was invited to a panel discussion on Early Years’ Reading at the Children’s Literature Festival, Islamabad on May 24 and 25, 2013. Other panellists included Basarat Kazim of Alif Leila Book Bus Society, Mehnaz Aziz of Children’s Global Network, Baela Raza Jamil of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi and Nargis Sultana of the Open Society Foundation. Panellists discussed the significance of early reading for developing interest in books as well as bonding with parents.
Amima Sayeed, who represented TRC emphasised how reading should be used as a tool for developing creativity and children’s imagination and not just their literacy skills. She elaborated that schools were so consumed by the rush to complete the syllabus and achieve the objectives of their lesson plans, that teachers and young learners were not getting any time to discover the joy of reading, imagination and creative expression. Many teachers in the audience shared that parents expressed the fear that children who read, might end up living in a fantasy world and will not develop practical skills that will help them succeed in academics and life. Panellists encouraged teachers to help parents understand the importance of early reading and early years’ education for the holistic development of children. The development of a parents’ handbook, which would help dispel misconceptions about Early Childhood Education was also discussed. Nigar Nazar of Gogi Comics volunteered to create illustrations for the parents’ handbook.
TRC’s ‘Strong Foundations’ is Part of the ECE Course at IBA Sukkar
On May 28, 2013, Dhani Bux Jillani from the Department of Training and Development, IBA Sukkur visited TRC to purchase 35 copies of Mazboot Bunyaadein, the Urdu translation of ‘Strong Foundations, A Guide for ECE Teachers’. He sent us this encouraging and uplifting email:
I am writing to share with you that I am facilitating the sessions of ‘Early Childhood Education’ at Sukkur IBA. This is a four-month programme, which we are offering to fresh ECE teachers.
When I was planning for my ECE sessions, I browsed different institutional websites, who also offer ECE courses. However, through this email, I would like to acknowledge and appreciate that I have found the TRC website very helpful and up-to-date. Overall, TRC has facilitated me a lot. Some of the examples are:
– I have downloaded the National Curriculum 2007 for ECE from the TRC website, which I could not find on any other website browsed by me, not even through Google search.
– The book ‘Strong Foundations’, helped me in designing different ECE sessions. I purchased this book from the TRC office and also bought copies in Urdu for my entire ECE class of 35 students.
– TRC Learning Resources which include different multimedia products such as CDs on Nurturing Creativity in Young Children, Learning Environment, Language and Literacy and so on helped me a lot in making my ECE session lively, productive and learning-oriented. The ECE course participants watched these videos with great interest.
TRC is doing great work in ECE and I am glad that in Pakistan, someone has shown a real interest and seriousness with professionalism for one of the most important and critical areas of child development and education. Please keep it up!
Thank you Dhani Bux
TRC Attends Right to Information Workshop
On June 01, 2013, a non-governmental organization Shehri – Citizens for a Better Environment (CBE) organised a half-day capacity building workshop on the Right to Information, Article 19A of the Constitution of Pakistan. The objectives of the workshop were to build awareness and knowledge about Article 19A and to enhance citizen’s skills on using this law to bring changes in the existing system.
Shehri invited citizens, students, academia, representatives of civil society organisations, NGOs and the media to discuss the Right to Information and Freedom of Information laws in light of Article 19A. Seema Yasmin and Nighat Hasan represented TRC at the event.
Learning Metrics Task Force Meeting
On June 04, 2013, the Learning Metrics Task Force (LMTF) Secretariat and task force members collaborated with in country facilitator Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) to conduct a consultation meeting at the Reform Support Unit (RSU). Representatives of civil society, academia, the Education Department, PEACE, The Aga Khan University Examination Board and the Sector Planning team attended this event. This was Phase III of the consultation. In Phase I, LMTF had identified seven domains for measuring learning outcomes. In Phase II of the consultation process, LMTF had prepared draft recommendations for measuring learning outcomes at the global and national level.
The meeting began with opening remarks by Saba Mushtaq, Chief Programme Manager, RSU who suggested that BoC, PITE, and PEACE should collaborate. Aftab Ahmed Khushk, Consultant Assessment, RSU explained that the second round of the Standardized Achievement Test (SAT) was being held.
Baela Raza Jamil of ITA shared a presentation on the Learning Metrics Task Force and briefed the participants on Phase I and Phase II. She shared the objective of the meeting, which was to gather information on how the country assesses learning, how assessment results are used, and the barriers and challenges to building an effective national system of assessment.
The participants were divided into three groups to work on seven questions regarding the current assessment system in Pakistan. Each group shared their suggestions for support in improving the system. Ms Jamil concluded the event by elaborating that other provinces will go through the same exercise and the national consensus will be sent to UNESCO Institute of Statistics.
Prize Distribution Event at Education Bay School
TRC’s Rubina Naqvi was invited as chief guest at the prize distribution ceremony at Education Bay. The ceremony for pre-primary students was held on June 13 and for secondary students on June 14, 2013.
The prizes awarded to students of classes 1 to 10 were for academic as well as non-academic achievements. It was heartening to see several students being acknowledged for punctuality, progress, neat appearance and good conduct. Some of the teachers were also honoured for their regular attendance at work. The programme ended with a tour of the classrooms, where the parents received their child’s report card and also got to see students’ work on display.
TRC at SEF’s ECE Seminar
On June 13, 2013, TRC participated in a seminar on Early Childhood Education organised by the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF); Mahenaz Mahmud, Advisor TRC, was invited as a panellist. SEF kindly agreed to accommodate 18 students of ECE-CP at the seminar. Students were awarded credit hours for their Professional Practices course as the seminar was on a class day.
The class was asked and Maha Laka volunteered to present on TRC’s behalf. The TRC
presentation focussed on the Principles of a Quality ECE Programme (National ECE Curriculum: 2007) equally applicable to private and public sector schools. The presentation also discussed Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP) and engaged the audience in demystifying prevalent misperceptions about DAP.
Dr. Anita Ghulam Ali, Managing Director, SEF welcomed the students and appreciated their efforts. Other panelists included Baela Jamil of ITA, Marium Shera of Froebel Education System, Shahida Mohiuddin of ITREB, Ataullah Khan of Ropani Foundation and Almina Pardhan of AKU-IED.
Questions to the panelists revolved around the extreme emphasis on writing by all the ‘renowned’
school systems in Karachi and also on the pressure put on 2-4 year olds to prepare for entrance tests in these schools. A few parents in the audience also shared how unhappy their children are in school. While all the panellists agreed that many prevalent practices are more damaging than good for children’s cognitive and holistic development, Mahenaz Mahmud and Baela Jamil emphasised that parents should take a lead in protecting their children from such schools by raising their voice, registering protest or by home-schooling.
Along with others, TRC also displayed its learning material at the seminar. Participants of the seminar included teachers, school representatives, SEF project staff and other teacher training and education institutions working on Early Childhood Education.
Open Society Foundation Visits TRC
TRC welcomed the education team of Open Society Foundation, including Faisal Bari, Deputy Director and Nargis Sultana, Education Programme Manager to its office, on June 19 and 20, 2013. The OSF team discussed possible collaboration for developing critical thinking skills and pedagogies in public and private sector schools. OSF shared its Critical Thinking Programme (CTP) that has been implemented in various countries including Pakistan. Given that the focus and modalities of CTP resonate perfectly with TRC’s philosophy of teacher education, it was agreed in principle that TRC and OSF would work collaboratively to figure out the modalities of developing teachers’ capacities on a large-scale across Pakistan.
Another significant development during discussions with OSF was regarding Early Childhood Education (ECE). Concerned with the low levels of awareness, demand and structural alignments made for ECE, OSF considers it imperative for the various actors working on ECE to come together and advocate for ECE access and quality especially in the public sector. The discussion focused on scoping the existing challenges and possible solutions for effective implementation of ECE.
Given the difficulty in gauging the success of coalitions and advocacy, it was suggested that systemic improvements in the public sector would have to be made starting with financial allocations. At the same time, awareness raising campaigns would have to be held at the parental and societal level, using mass media to generate crisp information on ‘good’ parenting and developmentally appropriate practices in schools.
Over the next couple of months, TRC will be working on crystallising the ideas for both the implementation of the Critical Thinking Programme and ECE advocacy across provinces. Keeping in view its own team and time allocations, TRC has decided to defer the second round of ECE-CPU (Urdu), as the outreach of teacher education as well as ECE advocacy will be wider through the initiation of both OSF supported programmes.
TRC conducts FGDs for the Paths to School Success Project
The Paths to School Success project is aimed at higher on-time enrolment, retention and learning
achievement using the Child-to-Child (CTC) approach. The project began with the TRC team conducting focus group discussions (FGDs) in eight school communities of Sehwan Taluka, District Jamshoro, from June 24 – 26, 2013. With teachers, community influencers, parents and children as participants, FGDs are part of the scoping exercise being carried out to understand the specific context and needs of the communities with respect to trauma counselling, issues of enrolment and drop-outs and better quality of education. The findings of the 32 consultations will be used to develop training programmes for master trainers and learning activities and materials for children. TRC has partnered with SEF and its partner Community Development Council in the project district to implement project activities in eight selected schools.
Inayet and Mehtab’s Farewell
On April 16, 2013, TRC hosted a farewell party for two of our outgoing staff. Our colleague Inayet ullah Khan left TRC after 15 years of service in the Accounts department. Later in March 2013, another colleague Mehtab Husain also left TRC. During his six years, Mehtab always made sure that the lift worked and that we were ‘safe.’ At the farewell, TRC’s Director, Seema Malik thanked both of them for their services to the organisation and wished them well for the future.