The July-September 2013 quarter was packed with workshops and planning exercises. In addition to our routine multi-school workshops offered at TRC premises, we have been busy with meeting requests of schools for school evaluation and professional development interventions. With end of term of ECE-CP and planning for graduation ceremony, coordination, communication and in-house planning meetings were abound. Additionally, with the kicking off of the Paths to School Success project, our core team was intensively engaged with gearing up for the upcoming Training of Trainers, which started in end September and would last for ten days, weekends included! Dr. Sonal Zaveri, the International Advisor of the Child to Child Trust, UK has flown in from Delhi to conduct the ToT. Furthermore, the Senior Management Team, held many in-house consultations for charting out a sustainable way forward for TRC and identifying suitable resource mobilisation avenues to tap into.

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Projects at TRC

Paths to School Success Project: Scoping Study

TRC entered into a partnership agreement with the Child-to-Child Trust (CTC), UK for a project to be implemented in eight communities of the Jamshoro district of Sindh. The “Paths to School Success” project (PSSP) aims to enhance enrolment, retention and learning achievements using the Child-to-Child approach towards learning, pedagogy and community involvement. For project implementation, TRC is collaborating with Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) and Community Development Council (CDC).

On July 29, 2013, Dr. Sonal Zaveri, International Advisor from CTC, UK, reached Karachi on a four-day visit to finalize the scope of the project in consultation with technical and implementing partners. For the scoping exercise, Dr. Zaveri, with facilitation from TRC, visited Sehwan and Thatta, two potential areas for implementing PSSP, for understanding the context and meeting with stakeholders.

From the FGDs conducted earlier with teachers and community members, it became clear that the communities were not struggling with post disaster trauma. Similarly, the frequency of children not being sent to school on time or their enrolment in pre-primary did not emerge as a major issue. Therefore, the initial assumption made about disaster affected communities was not validated through the FGDs. Owing to this, CTC decided to carry out a scoping exercise to determine aspects of the programme strategy that will have to change to match communities’ context and needs. Based on the observations of the visits, it was decided that Sehwan would remain the main target area for implementing PSSP.

As part of the scoping study, Dr. Zaveri also met with SEF’s Managing Director and programme team and reviewed various learning resources developed by the Foundation.

The scoping visit resulted in reprogramming decisions for PSS; Dr. Sonal put forward a new theory of change for the project, which now focuses on quality of ECE, improving retention rates till completion of the primary cycle and Disaster Risk Reduction as a separate strand to be achieved through Child to Child Approach. Consequently, programme activities, nature of training, and budgets have been changed. The revised log frame and budgets are in the process of being finalized and will soon be sent to DfiD for approval.

PSSP ToT Begins

From September 30th, a ten-day training of master trainers was initiated under the PSS project. Led by the International Advisor to CTC, UK, Dr. Sonal Zaveri, the training aims to facilitate the group of master trainers to understand the Child-to-Child Approach for implementation in early childhood education and disaster risk reduction activities. The trainers include TRC’s core training team as well as teachers from selected public schools, trainers from the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) and representatives of the district level partner, Community Development Council (CDC) Sehwan.

HSBC and TRC Distribute PTBs

As part of the partnership agreement signed between TRC and HSBC in 2011 for the Pehla Taleemi Basta (PTB) project, 150 PTBs were distributed and 150 government primary school teachers were trained on usage of the early years’ learning kit. The schools selected for intervention were located across eight towns of Karachi (Kemari, Bin Qasim, Shah Faisal, Lyari, Landhi, Malir, Orangi and Baldia).

A series of workshops was carried out by TRC in the selected schools but one workshop for Lyari Town was postponed owing to persistently deteriorating law and order situation. This was held on August 29, 2013 at TRC premises for a group of 21 teachers. Seema Yasmin and Farzana Kausar were the lead facilitators. The teachers were introduced to the importance of active learning in the early years and how to plan meaningful learning experiences for children. Through hands-on experiential learning methods, the teachers understood the value of active learning and during the workshops worked in groups, manipulated materials from the PTB and planned activities for Math, Science and language. The teachers found the PTB both interesting and useful as a tool for encouraging children to experiment with and understand difficult, abstract concepts.

Second Phase of Workshops with PARCO

After the successful completion of the first phase of teacher trainings at six PARCO stations across Pakistan, the second round was initiated in September 2013. The first workshop was organized at the TRC office in Karachi and was attended by 16 participants, most of whom had attended workshops with TRC during the first phase.

The 15-hour module titled Moasser Tadrees ki Mahartein was meant to enhance teachers’ knowledge about essential pedagogical techniques including planning, stress on time management as a key skill for classroom management and introduce Pehla Taleemi Basta as an effective early years’ learning resource. Tabinda Jabeen and Nighat Hasan were the workshop leaders.

The workshop sessions were interactive and engaged participants to share experiences, put skills to work as well as experiment with new ideas through group work, brainstorming, case studies and other participatory methods. Riddles, jokes and poetry were used as energizers to revive attention and spruce up low energy levels.

School Focused Workshops

50-hour Active Learning Workshop Concludes at Korangi Academy

Korangi Academy approached TRC with a request to undertake professional development sessions for their teachers. In this regard, both the school and TRC reached a consensus, that the junior section teachers will be trained on Active Learning philosophy and techniques. Active learning engages and challenges children and young people’s thinking using real-life and imaginary situations. It is child centered, promotes play-based learning and involves children in planning and evaluating their own learning.

Tabinda Jabeen and Uzma Rauf, members of TRC’s Training and Development Team (TDT), conducted the 50-hour workshop from June 24 till July 05, 2013 at TRC office. A total of 18 teachers participated in the training; out of these, 9 were preschool teachers, 8 taught primary grades (classes I – III) and 1 was the section head.

As part of the training, the National Curriculum for Early Childhood Education (2007) was introduced to the teachers, which they were following at school but admitted that they needed to learn more about it. Teacher trainees were walked through the curriculum in an in-depth orientation with emphasis on how children’s skills and abilities develop and can be nurtured during the early years. Child development, brain development, theories related to children’s learning and development, DAP (Developmentally Appropriate Practices) and characteristics of quality ECE programmes were also discussed at length.

The workshop was interactive and facilitators focused on engaging participants in hands on activities where they were preparing materials to enrich the learning environment as well as discussing and pondering over ideas to support active learning in their class settings. In addition interactive lectures, brainstorming, assigned readings, pair and group activities complemented the theoretical aspects and facilitated trainees in developing deeper understanding about the subject.

At the end of the training, the teachers felt empowered and confident in their newly developed understanding of children’s learning experiences. One teacher who attended the training said, “thank you for changing my thoughts about the way children learn and for giving me new ideas.”

Classroom Management Workshop at Hyderi Public School

A 6-hour workshop was conducted on ‘Classroom Management’ at Hyderi Public School by Rubina Naqvi on August 24 and 31, 2013. It was attended by 16 primary teachers and focused on types of environments and their impact on children, issues faced in managing a class, factors to consider for effective classroom management, time and resource management and causes and solutions in managing unruly behavior. The teachers actively participated in all the discussions and activities. They shared the limitations they face in managing children and found the strategies introduced as useful. The duration of the workshop seemed insufficient to satisfy all the queries raised by individual teachers; they all felt the need for additional training sessions with TRC.

Workshop at Habib Girls’ School

In response to a request received from Habib Girls’ School, a 15-hour workshop on ‘Effective Teaching’ was conducted for their primary teachers from August 15 to 17, 2013. The workshop mainly aimed to facilitate teachers for better understanding the concept of learning itself and children’s different learning styles. As part of the overarching theme, aspects like learning environment and its impacts on child development, qualities of an effective teacher and teachers’ role in promoting effective learning were also reflected upon.

The participants were actively involved throughout and openly shared concerns and issues they face while teaching. The citing of real examples enriched the discussions and helped create more relevance to the theoretical context. Activities on self-profiling and mediation were enjoyed by all and proved to be productive in reinforcing the importance of a teacher’s role in promoting meaningful learning.

School Evaluation Programme

Post Evaluation Workshop at Shahwilayat Public School

As a follow-up to the evaluation programme carried out at Shahwilayat Public School in May, 2013, Rubina Naqvi conducted a 9-hour workshop on September 6, 13 and 14, 2013 to share the observations of classroom practices with the concerned teachers. The workshop focused on classroom management, teaching methodology, marking students’ work, team teaching and improving students’ spoken English.

The workshop was attended by the same 26 teachers of classes I to III who had been observed during the evaluation programme. During the sessions, teachers were encouraged to talk about everyday situations and concerns they experience in class settings. Both teachers and administration staff were persuaded to reach an understanding to promote good practices in the school for maximizing benefits for children. The head and senior mistress of the junior section were also present during most of the sessions.

Multi School Workshops from July to September 2013

During the quarter, five multi school workshops were carried out which in totality were attended by 132 teachers from TRC member as well as non-member schools.

“Managing a successful school” was carried out in July, which was attended by 26 participants.

In September, four workshops were conducted on the following themes: “Integrating Language with Literature” attended by 28 teachers, “Formative Assessment” attended by 19, “Mushahedey aur Janch ka Muassar Amal” attended by 30 and “Learning through Stories” by 29 participants.

Resource Mobilisation and Networking

From this quarter structured resource mobilisation efforts were initiated and organizations from both the education and private/corporate sector were identified and contacted for exploring linkage development and partnership possibilities. Like-mindedness in terms of organizational philosophy, willingness to support education initiatives and previous working relationships with TRC were the prime factors evaluated before establishing contact.

To this end, a series of meetings were conducted this quarter with the Sindh Education Foundation, Pakistan Petroleum Limited and Beaconhouse School System.

The Sindh Education Foundation approached TRC to discuss a potential long-term partnership in Early Childhood Education. SEF would like TRC not only to train and mentor its cohort of ECE master trainers but also offer joint certification in ECE to thousands of teachers the Foundation envisages to train in future through establishing a network of training centers across Sindh. Consultations have been carried out both in-house amongst TRC management as well as between the Assistant Director TRC and senior management of SEF. It is hoped that the scope of work and terms of partnership will be finalized by Jan-Feb 2014.

To examine prospects of having some of our own quality education initiatives supported through corporates’ CSR programmes, a meeting was held on September 4, 2013 with Pakistan Petroleum Limited. Ms. Parveen Jung of the Community Development Department from PPL and TRC representatives, Ms. Ambreena Ahmed and Ms Rubina Naqvi participated. A detailed discussion was carried out about TRC’s services and learning resources. Ms. Jung shared an overview of PPL’s current education support initiatives, which are mainly geared towards improving livelihood of communities residing within and around PPL’s field of operation. Areas of mutual interest and potential for collaborative work were discussed and it was agreed that TRC would share a proposal with PPL for supporting its education initiatives. In this regard, a school improvement proposal was developed and shared with PPL for their adopted school in Sindh.

On another front, TRC has been planning a campaign to bridge the gap between privileged and underprivileged schools by engaging private education institutions to proffer support for the under-resourced schools located in their own vicinities. The purpose is two pronged: to sensitize privileged students towards the dismal conditions of other schools and to make them realize that with their little contribution so much of a difference could be made. To this end, a meeting was held with Ms. Yasmeen Aqeel, Regional Director (RD), Beaconhouse School System, South at the Regional Office, Karachi on September 26, 2013. Since BSS-TRC friendship goes back a long way, Beaconhouse was the first private schooling system to be contacted for the initiative. Ambreena Ahmed, Assistant Director and Rubina Naqvi, Senior Manager, Membership Network represented TRC. During the very amicable meeting, the prospect of supporting TRC’s campaign was enthusiastically discussed and it was mutually agreed that TRC would submit a brief proposal for taking this forward with BSS.

Events and Seminars

In-house Session on Right to Information

Two TRC staff members, Nighat Hasan and Seema Yasmin, attended a half day workshop on “Right to Information, Article 19A of the Constitution of Pakistan”, organized by Sheri Foundation. To share information gained from the workshop, the two members arranged an in-house session for the TRC staff on July 12, 2013. The objective was to inform the team about 19A and raise awareness about information access to public made possible by law. The article states that, ‘every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.’ This implies that any citizen of Pakistan can ask for any sort of information except for the category defined as ‘exempt from disclosure’. The session was interactive and engaged participants to think about and raise questions pertaining to issues and information needs which were relevant to their individual and communal contexts.

On Literacy Day: Are Schools Ready for Children?

On September 9, 2013, Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) organized an event in Karachi to celebrate International Literacy Day. For over 40 years now, the Literacy Day is commemorated to remind us that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning.

Tabinda Jabeen represented TRC at the event, which was attended by educationists, government officials, civil society members and teachers from both public and private sectors.

The event started with points to ponder and the dismal literacy scenario in Sindh was highlighted. Mr. Aziz Kabani, Director, SEF moderated a panel discussion, on ‘access to school and retention’. The panelists, including government officials, NGO representatives, educationists and teacher educators, shared their views on the prevailing literacy status in Sindh. Key statistics with regards to enrolment and basic facilities in schools were also debated. The panelists unanimously agreed that provision of basic education to children is the state’s responsibility and even though parents are willing to send their children to schools, schools are not ready for huge intakes owing to both infrastructure and quality concerns. They also stressed that civil society and private sector must continue to play their part to improve the state of education.

At the end, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) gave away an award to a private school teacher for best lesson planning.

New Inductions at TRC

Three As were added to the TRC family…
Ms. Ambreena Ahmed joined in August 2013 as Assistant Director.
Mr. Aneeq Iqbal came on board as Finance Manager in September 2013.
Mr. Abid joined as an additional facilitative arm to our general hands in August 2013.