With schools closed for the summer and Ramazan in August followed by Eid holidays, most of our activities during this period were behind the scenes … planning, reviewing and organising for upcoming programmes, events and activities.

We hope you read and enjoyed Ilm o Amal, which was published online every month. Those of you who would like to contribute to our monthly publication please write to us. If there are topics or issues you would like us to address, do please let us know. You can email the Ilm o Amal Team at: ilmoamal@trconline.org

After seeing off our sixth cohort of students, at the TRC – Institute of ECE, we were busy with admissions for the seventh cohort, reviewing course outlines and evaluation plans and the student handbook. Our seventh cohort is very much at home now having attended three weeks of classes which started in September. For more details, please visit: http://trconline.org/trc-iece-news/

Following are examples of two workshops held during this period. Details of workshops conducted during this quarter are available on the Workshops page on our website.

Managing a Successful School

TRC conducted a 30-hour course for school managers and administrators at its premises from 16 to 20 July 2012. The course was conducted by Rubina Naqvi and was designed to benefit inexperienced school managers and coordinators who may become future school leaders. The training modules focused on the aims of education, the skills and roles of a school leader, managing staff, the school development plan and the parent-school relationship.

Candid discussions amongst the 24 participants highlighted the common challenges that managers face in schools today and the ways to meet them.

Maintaining Academic Records

In response to a request received from Reflections School, TRC conducted a four-hour workshop at the school’s premises on 24 July 2012. The workshop was conducted by Rubina Naqvi and was attended by 32 participants that included teachers, coordinators and section heads.

The workshop sessions stressed on the need to maintain students’ academic records. It highlighted the different methods of recording and preserving essential information about students’ progress and development. The participants of the workshop raised relevant questions that led to an insightful discussion about current practices in the school and ways to enhance the recordkeeping system.

Sindh Reading Program (SRP)

Throughout this quarter, we have been totally involved with SRP. Emails and meetings have ruled our days … meetings in Karachi with USAID, with our partners, Save the Children in Karachi and Islamabad, and needless to say internal planning and re-planning and budgeting meetings between staff and policy guidance meetings with our Board of Governors. Annual work plans were developed and changed as were life of project work plans; logos were designed and tweaked; course outlines developed and a host of other setting up for the launch of SRP activities were undertaken.

On the directive of the Government of Sindh, the scope of the USAID Sindh Reading Program has increased exponentially. Working with 4000 teachers, the Program will now reach out to 750, 000 primary level students, from K to 5, in eight districts of Sindh through direct intervention in 1350 schools. The change in the number of target beneficiaries has obviously had a huge impact on the programme’s strategy, especially the training of teachers, follow-up support and classroom contact with students.

Participation in the Learning Metrics Taskforce Working Group

The Learning Metrics Task Force (LMTF) is an international initiative, which aims to develop a shared vision for common goals and targets in the education sector and also to inform the post-2015 global policy discourse. As the specific goals within EFA and MDG sunset in 2015, and the UN Secretary General prepares to launch a global education campaign, there is a window of opportunity for the education community to ensure that learning is a prominent part of the global development agenda. It provides a space for targeted dialogue among a diverse group of experts, to develop recommendations for global education and development communities about internationally comparable learning standards, metrics and implementation practices.  The Centre for Universal Education at Brookings (CUE) and UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is supporting the work of the task force as the secretariat. Three co-chairs representing the UN, the private sector and civil society have agreed to lead the task force: Rukmini Banerji, Director of Programs at Pratham (India); Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF; and Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson.

The task force is supported by three technical working groups comprised of individuals with technical knowledge and experience related to comparable learning standards, metrics and implementation practices. The Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) has nominated TRC for the Standards Development Working Group on Early Childhood Education; Amima Sayeed is the focal person who is participating in the working group discussions and making contributions in putting together ECE standards and recommendations. She also participated in the in-country consultation on LMTF Standards organized by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi and Reform Support Unit Sindh, in September.

Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE)

A two-day meeting was held by the PCE on August 28-29, 2012 in Islamabad, to consider strategic directions and upcoming grants and funding opportunities. TRC’s focal person for PCE, Amima Sayeed who represents TRC on the PCE Board participated in the meeting.

Advocacy through Mass Media

TRC participated in a featured radio programme on education as a technical expert on Early Childhood Education. Nighat Hasan represented TRC on the programme and responded to questions such as, ‘What is ECE?’ ‘What are the cornerstones and significance of ECE?’ ‘What constitutes good quality ECE practice? ‘What should schools, parents, and the government do to support good early childhood experiences?’ The programme was broadcast live on Thursday September 13, 2012.

This radio programme is a joint endeavour of the Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) and the National Broadcasting Service (NBS) network and will be broadcast every Thursday from 4.00-5.00 pm. Through this programme, PCE expects to cultivate informed public opinion. The programme will also make recommendations on issues related to education by sharing research and analysis on financing, governance, learning levels, status and the importance of the Right to Education Act. The audiences will be actively engaged in determining alternatives, solutions and consensus for action by both, legislatives and executives. This transmission can be heard in Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad.

Local Education Group (LEG) Meeting

The first meeting of the Local Education Group (LEG) was held on July 3, 2012 at the Reform Support Unit, Education & Literacy Department, in the N.J.V. School Building. Seema Malik represented TRC at the meeting. The meeting focused on the development process of the education plan, the contents of the application for the education development grant, and the formulation of LEG’s future strategy.

The second meeting was held on September 14, 2012. Representatives of the Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh, UNICEF, UNESCO, Aga khan Foundation, Notre Dame Institute of Education, ITA and various other NGOs were present at the meeting. Tabinda Jabeen of TRC attended the meeting.

The objectives of the meeting were: to formulate the Sindh Education Sector Plan (SESP), SESP work plan and activities, and SESP/GPE budget structures; to establish SESP Technical Working Groups; to review TORs for GPE Technical Support and to discuss SESP Policy Pillars and the Programme Linkages.

The meeting began with opening remarks by the Secretary of the Education and Literacy Department Mukhtar Somroo. Parvez Ahmed Seehar. The Chief Programme Manager of the Reform Support Unit presented the proposed SESP Organisation and Structure, which was followed by a discussion on the Formation of Technical Working Groups. Mr. Seehar requested participating organisations to select Thematic Groups based on their expertise and to nominate focal persons from their organisations.

Preparation for KICFF Underway

TRC in collaboration with The Little Art (Lahore) will bring you the 2nd Karachi International Children’s Film Festival (KICFF) in November this year. Last year it was a wonderfully exciting experience for children and teachers alike.

So far, dates have been decided and the venue has been booked. Reviewing the 86 films sent to us by The Little Art, has been the most demanding part of the preparation. The films, which are from 32 different countries for children of all ages, have been reviewed for age and cultural appropriateness and the messages they convey. We will soon be discussing the final programming for Karachi with The Little Art.

Do keep a look out for KICFF Announcements on our website later in October.

TRC Film Club

The film Do Dooni Chaar was screened on September 26, 2012 for 48 teachers and head teachers of public sector schools from Baldia, Jamshed and Korangi Towns.

The story of Do Dooni Chaar is based on a teacher’s personal and professional struggle to make ends meet within limited resources. Following the screening, the audience was divided into discussion groups. Each group was asked to think about the aspects of Mr. Duggle’s character they appreciated and why? They also reflected on the following questions: As a teacher, how would you help develop moral values in children? If you came to know that one of your colleagues used unfair means to promote a student to the next grade, what would you do?

This small group discussion was followed by an interactive whole group discussion. One of the teachers said that she takes pride in being a teacher, because a teacher lays the foundation for the future. Another teacher added that honesty and integrity should be the priorities of a teacher. Children are very sensitive and observant, and can get easily influenced by our behaviour and attitude. So we as parents and teachers should role model the behaviours, which we expect from children. We should draw certain boundaries and limits not for children alone, but ourselves too.

According to the participants, the dialogue and the situations in this film depict the realities of life and they could truly relate to them. One of the teachers rightly said that besides teaching children reading and writing, it is our responsibility to provide them with a nurturing environment where children feel free to share their thoughts, ideas and issues without any fear.

Most of the audience echoed the same view, that the TRC Film Club is a unique and purposeful experience because watching films is generally considered as entertainment alone, but here at TRC it involves a great deal of learning. Here, a film is viewed peacefully, without any interruptions or distractions that we have at home. The opportunity to discuss issues that arise in one’s mind within a given framework and to hear different perspectives, makes one think again and makes film watching an enjoyable educational activity.

TRC attends ICT Fair at AMI School

On September 27, 2012 we were invited to attend an ICT fair at AMI School; Nighat Hasan represented TRC. The students of the senior branch exhibited their work at different stalls. They were well informed and gave details about their ICT projects to visitors. They had painstakingly researched the history and development of ICT devices such as, mobile phones, blue tooth and video games. Some of them had prepared Powerpoint presentations to demonstrate their learning. It was inspiring to see the effort the students and teachers had made.

World Teachers’ Day Broadcast

EDC (Education Development Centre), an international organisation based in Washington DC, recorded a programme for USAID that will be broadcast on Pakistan Television and disseminated via Radio Pakistan on World Teachers’ Day on October 05. TRC, along with other organisations and individuals, was approached by their consultant, Moneeza Hashmi, (President, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association), to nominate two teachers to participate. TRC’s representatives were Tahseen Qamar Durrani from the public sector and Bushra Nasir from the private sector; they travelled to Islamabad on September 28, 2012 to do a recording for the show.

The objective of the show is to raise awareness and enthusiasm about the HEC sanctioned four-year B.Ed (Hons) Elementary degree that is being implemented with USAID support by the Teacher Education Project. The target audience of the programme are young, middle-income, peri-urban/urban, high school or FA/FSC graduates and their families. The programme aims to be inspirational and will showcase the potential of Pakistani youth to transform the country’s approach to teaching.

Support to National Institute of Management (NIM)

TRC was contacted by NIM, previously NIPA, while planning their 14th Mid Career Management Course (September – December 2012) for officers of Grade 18, who are at the threshold of promotion to the next grade. We were requested to assist their presenters with information about our work on primary education in Sindh. Two of their presenters, Mr. Rafiqurehman and Mr. Junaid Ahmed visited TRC on September 14, 2012; members of TRC staff provided the information and helped them gather educational data.