The TRC staff, well accustomed to dealing with work frenzy, diligently divided time to meet deliverables of two important initiatives that TRC is leading. The Critical Thinking Programme saw its first Policy Dialogue and meeting of the National Review Committee, two significant milestones in the project’s year long trajectory. This also meant sound beginnings of targeted advocacy for critical thinking at the ECE and primary levels through inclusion of education stakeholders from all provinces. We are very grateful for their participation and support for both TRC and the project. We also welcomed Dr. Sonal Zaveri, our international consultant to the Pathways to School Success project, on her second trip to Karachi amidst the volatile political scene. She braved the weeklong trip and also visited schools in Sehwan. We are thankful for her invaluable input for taking the project forward and strengthening what we do in schools for GRS and DRR. TRC was also represented at the 2-day regional ECE conference which was a collective forum for sharing local as well as international perspectives on ECE. We are proud to announce that our 8th batch of ECE-CP graduated this quarter. We once again congratulate all the graduates and their families for their achievement.

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Projects at TRC

Pathways to School Success Project (PSSP)

During the quarter, the TRC team carried out three visits to the schools in Sehwan where TRC has now been working for the last one and a half year to ensure on-time enrolment and awareness on disaster risk reduction.

The first visit was carried out between August 20 to 23rd, 2014, by four team members to achieve many purposes: data collection from all stakeholders for monitoring and testimonials on programme progress, meeting with Community Advisory Board as a regular interface to discuss progress on parental sessions and their involvement to address programme related issues in communities, observation of the YL/YF sessions in schools, classroom observations and discussions with teachers on school specific issues and finding ways to address these, finalisation of the second cohort of YLs and securing information about their age and meeting with the local NGO partner to discuss current issues as well future plans.

The second visit was a shorter one and spanned two days in the field. This was conducted between Sep 10 and 11th by two team members. The purpose was to supervise dissemination of learning material to the newly inducted cohort two of YLs and the back up YFs.

The third visited was conducted to accompany the international consultant, Dr. Sonal Zaveri, on her project evaluation trip to Sehwan from September 22 to 26th. Atleast 4 schools were visited. Dr. Zaveri took special interest in interacting with children, teachers, CAB member and NGO personnel for understanding the project progress and issues holistically.

Improving Quality of Learning through Quality of Teaching (IQLQT)

TRC has embarked on a one-year project with financial support from the Open Society Foundations (OSF) from January 2014. The overarching goal is to develop a repository of contextually relevant teaching and learning material grounded in critical thinking with potential for country wide application across both public and private sector education systems in ECE and primary classrooms.

Key activities undertaken during the quarter included:

For this reporting period, six Working Group Meetings were held. As far as module development is concerned, 3 primary level modules (Ethics, Environment and Human Body) are finalised. All ECE level modules are completed. Currently, Urdu translations of both primary and ECE modules is underway.

TRC team visited the selected public and private sector schools to schedule pretesting visits in consultation with teachers. Since pre-testing kicked off in private schools first, the status is given below:

Module ECE Level Primary level
(school and grades)
Ethics VMP & The Educators PECHS (grades 1, 2, 3 & 5)
Amynabad (grades 1 & 3)
VMP (grades 2, 4 & 5)
Environment Not yet started PECHS (grades 1, 2, 3 & 5)
Amynabad (grades 1, 3 & 4)
VMP (grade 5)
Human Body VMP PECHS (Not yet started)
Amynabad (grade 4)
VMP (Not yet started)
Shapes and Angles VMP Not yet started

Pretesting in public sector schools will start after Eid ul Azha.

School Focused Workshops

School focused Workshop at Creek View Academy

In response to a request received from Creek View Academy, Rubina Naqvi conducted a 12 – hour workshop on ‘Effective Teaching’ at the school premises on 13, 20 & 27 September 2014. It was attended by 15 Pre-primary, Primary and Secondary School teachers from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm on each day.

The components of the workshop included:

• concept of learning & professionalism in education
• process of learning and learning styles
• qualities, skills and roles of an effective teacher
• reflection on one’s own working profile
• importance of managing learning in the classroom
• factors to consider for effective classroom management
• causes of misbehaviour in the classroom
• strategies to manage behaviour effectively
• essential elements of a lesson plan

The training sessions were completed as planned. Participants raised queries on how to handle individual cases in their classes. They were actively involved throughout and candidly shared their concerns and issues in their teaching practice. This enriched the discussions and helped to relate theory to practice. Eventually all areas were covered effectively. The activities on experiencing the learning process and self-reflection were enjoyed by all and proved to be effective in reinforcing the importance of a teacher’s role in managing children in the classroom.

Post Evaluation Visit to River Oaks Academy

In response to a request received from the principal of the school, Rubina Naqvi visited River Oaks Academy on 25 August 2014 to review the impact of the school evaluation process that was carried out in May 2014. It was heartening and satisfying to see the changes that had been brought about by the management both in academic matters as well as in the infrastructure of the school.

Multi School Workshops from July to September 2014

During the quarter, five multi school workshops were conducted which were attended by a total of 103 teachers from both member and non member schools.

No workshops were scheduled or conducted during July and August 2014.

Four multi-school workshops were scheduled and duly conducted in September 2104. They were titled ‘Bringing Stories to Life’, ‘An Efficient Office Assistant’, ‘Preparing Students for O Level Comprehension Paper’ and ‘Making Students’ Progress Reports Meaningful’. These workshops were attended by 30, 28, 16, and 12 participants respectively.

A workshop titled, Collaborative Decision Making’ which was postponed in June 2014 due to city disturbances, was rescheduled and conducted in this month as well. It was attended by 17 participants.

TRC also played host to a workshop on storytelling organised by Kitab (Pvt) Ltd supported by Alif Ailaan through their “Leading through Teaching” project. TRC was approached by Kitab to host the2-hou session at TRC premises which we happily and voluntarily did. TRC also took responsibility to invite 10 government teachers to participate in the session. The 2-hour workshop was led by children’s author and story teller Musharraf Ali Farooqi of Kitab. The workshop was free of cost for the attendees.

Media Literacy

Film Club for private sector school

A film screening of the movie ‘Finding Nemo’ was carried out on August 21, 2014 for the Agha Khan School Garden. The session was attended by 45 children (4-5 year olds) who were accompanied by 3 teachers and 2 support staff from the school.

The children were delighted and excited at the thought of coming with their classmates to see a movie. Throughout the movie, their enthusiasm was evident and we could tell how glued they were to the film’s wonderfully animated plot.

Following the screening the children took a short break to unwind and enjoy refreshments before the post film discussion. The discussion, facilitated by Uzma Rauf, revolved around the children’s favourite characters and why they liked those particular ones the best.

Though most of the children talked about Nemo being their favourite character because he was cute, funny and enjoyed going to school, one child in particular said she liked Nemo’s father because he never gave up on searching for his son. Due to time constraints the planned colouring activity could not be carried out with the children. We handed over the colouring sheets to the teachers with instructions for doing it with the children once they are back in school.

Events and Seminars

14th LEG Meeting

On July 14, 2014, TRC attended the 14th LEG meeting at NJV School, RSU. The meeting was convened to announce the approval of the 66 million USD grant to Government of Sindh for implementing the Sindh Education Sector Plan which was developed through one and a half year long consultation with LEG members. The Secretary Education, GoS, chaired the meeting and pledged commitment for effective utilisation of the fund for servicing the sector’s most pressing areas to address governance, access and quality issues in education.

Government acknowledges PST teachers

A certificate distribution ceremony was organised by the Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh on July 17, 2014 in Karachi. Mr. Nisar Khuro, the Senior Minister for Education, Dr. Fazlullah Pechuho, the Secretary Education, Sindh and Mr. David Fournier, the Canadian Representative of CIDA, awarded certificates to PST teachers and scholarships to the art teachers from all over Sindh trained under the Sindh Elementary Training Program supported by CIDA. This training aimed to build capacity of teacher training institutes in Sindh.

The speakers emphasised the importance of quality education and the role of teachers as role models and mentors.

PSO extends support to TRC

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility Programme, Pakistan State Oil, the country’ s largest oil marketing company, provided financial support to TRC for its flagship learning resource, the Pehla Taleemi Basta (PTB).

TRC had approached PSO with a proposal requesting for financial assistance for printing of PTBs and received affirmation.

In a prestigious ceremony, held at PSO House, Karachi, the Managing Director, PSO, Mr. Amjad Parvez Janjua, handed over a cheque of PKR 500,000 to TRC. The event which was organised on July 23, 2014 showcased PSO’s long term commitment towards strengthening the development sector and civil society in Pakistan. In addition to TRC, many other organisations working for different social causes received support.

Director TRC, Ambreena Ahmed and Senior Manager, Rubina Naqvi attended the cheque distribution ceremony.

Partnership with UNICEF

An initial meeting was held at the Sindh Teacher Education Development Authority (STEDA) office on August 7, 2014 to discuss the framework for institutional capacity development of public sector education stakeholders including teachers and district level officials. UNICEF is the main agency supporting the initiative which is envisaged to benefit 500 teachers working in ECE. TRC was called upon as a strategic partner to this project and has been assigned the ECE component of the integrated training programme. DRR, Gender and Social Cohesion are the other important strands.

Independence Day Programme at Babaza Foundation School

Rubina Naqvi represented TRC at the Independence Day celebrations at Babaza Foundation Trust School on 14 August 2014. It was also the inauguration of the new custom-built building of the school. After the students had presented national songs and tableaus the guests were given a tour of the building, followed by refreshments.

TRC – RWF Collaboration

A meeting was held at TRC on 18 August 2014 to discuss the possibilities of collaboration with Root Work Foundation (RWF). The meeting was attended by Mr. Sartaj Abbasi and Mr. Aamir Raza Memon of RWF and Ms. Ambreena Ahmed and Rubina Naqvi from TRC.

The 1st meeting of the National Review Committee

On August 27, 2013, the 1st meeting of the NRC was held at TRC with public and private sector representatives from all provinces except KPK.

Director TRC, Ms. Ambreena Ahmed welcomed the National Review Committee members after which Ms. Mahenaz Mahmud gave a presentation on the importance of Critical Thinking in the classroom. Through the presentation she was able to gauge that all NRC members were on the same page with regard to the definition of Critical Thinking. She explained to the NRC members that the aim of the IQLQT was to create a rich repository of teaching-learning resources infused with Critical Thinking. She also explained that TRC would look for support from the NRC members for outreach for the project.

The presentation led to an animated discussion on CT. During the discussion the need to educate parents about the importance of CT came up as an important aspect of the success of the IQLQT. It was emphasized that it was important to educate parents so that there is some concurrence in a child’s school and home environment. Ms. Ambreena Ahmed updated the participants on the progress of the project. She talked about the process of coming to a consensus with OSF, the rigorous nature of identifying themes for the process, the painstaking module development and the pretesting phase. She also highlighted that action-research was inbuilt into the project, as was advocacy. Carrying on, Director, TRC elaborated on the extensive project process and emphasised how this was the defining feature of the initiative.

Ms. Ambreena Ahmed spoke about the pretesting process in 12 schools and explained that the schools had been selected to reach as diverse a selection of students as possible. She said that during the pretesting phase the project team had reached out to both low cost schools with limited resources and those catering to the middle class, which were better equipped. She explained that teachers had been oriented to the process (and not formally trained) in order to gauge the effectiveness of the lesson plans. It was suggested that a Learning Kit be developed to accompany the modules as a resource for teachers, which could include teaching videos.

A discussion ensued on the cultural barriers to critical thinking that exist such as the fear of asking an elder or a teacher questions or to question them.

The importance of following up on the project was also emphasised, as in the past teachers have received guides and kits that are seldom used. This was usually because teachers continue to rely too heavily on textbooks in order to complete the prescribed syllabus or because they are scared of destroying or wearing out the resource due to use.

Ms. Ambreena Ahmed also informed the NRC that a documentary about the IQLQT was in the works.

Ms. Uzma Rauf walked the committee members through the process of module development. She explained the process by which the Working Group members picked themes for the modules. She explained that the modules were in the process of being translated from Urdu to English and from English to Urdu, as Working Group members were free to work in the language they were more comfortable with. An NRC member raised the issue that most of the schools in Sindh were Sindhi medium and that this repository should be accessible to local language schools also.

Ms. Uzma Rauf spoke about the challenge of keeping the lesson plans accessible, by not overwhelming teachers. In order to achieve this, she informed the NRC that the Working Group used the prescribed textbooks as the base for the content. She also spoke about building interfaith and gender tolerance into the Ethics lesson plans.

The NRC member who was representing PITE Sindh expressed the desire to incorporate Critical Thinking in PITE’s training programmes.

A discussion ensued on the difficulty of incorporating CT in the classroom given the barriers. During the discussion it was emphasised that the government was in the driving seat as far as the implementation of the project was concerned and that NGOs can only play a supportive role, yet the collaboration was necessary for the benefit of the nation’s children. The need for complete ownership of the IQLQT by the NRC was stressed and it was felt that the project would also help bridge the gap between the provincial governments. NRC members also said that NGOs should be involved in the process of textbook development as regular textbook authors were likely unaware of critical thinking and how to incorporate it in their work. Some members also said that building CT into lesson plans would reduce the need for expensive training.

Mr. Noman Siddiqui walked the participants through the action-research that is part of the process of the IQLQT. He said the purpose of the research was to gauge the acceptability of the lesson plans, to ensure quality of the material, to demonstrate the rigour of the process of module development, and to warrant the ‘replicability’ of the material across the private and public schooling contexts. He said that the action-research would highlight the key findings of the project and would also enable the development of research-based policy briefs.

Ms. Basarat Kazim shared learning software that has been developed for children by the Alif Laila Book Bus Society. The committee discussed the importance of new technology and media such as mobile phones in learning.

The NRC was invited to be part of the panel at the policy dialogue the next day, 28th August, 2014 to which they all agreed.

The NRC discussed pros and cons of one textbook board that would develop books for all of Pakistan.

The NRC was informed that the next NRC meeting would be held in December of this year, by when pretesting will be over and the module compendium would be ready for showcasing.

TRC holds the 1st Policy Dialogue on Critical Thinking Classrooms

Teachers’ Resource Centre hosted a policy dialogue on August 28th at The Second Floor, as part of its ‘Improving Quality of Learning through Quality of Teaching’ project. The policy dialogue sought to initiate an interactive discussion on ‘The Importance and Scope of Critical Thinking in Pakistan classrooms.’

In her Opening Address, Seema Malik, the former Director, TRC welcomed the audience and talked about how the project was initiated. This was followed by a talk by TRC’s Academic Programmes Advisor, Mahenaz Mahmud on ‘Why we should care about Critical Thinking.’ In her talk, she shed light on the definition of Critical Thinking and the need to impart it as an essential part of education in the 21st century. Next Director TRC, Ambreena Ahmed took to the podium and gave an overview of the progress made so far in the IQLQT project.
The floor was then opened to a conversation between members of the Working Group and the guests at the event. The Working Group members discussed the process of developing teaching-learning resources that they had undertaken.  The discussion was followed by a Multimedia presentation on the IQLQT.  The National Review Committee was involved in an open dialogue on Critical Thinking in the Classroom: Implementation and Scalability. This was followed by a vote of thanks by Nargis Sultana of the OSF. The event was held at T2F.

WGW Conference Proceedings

Rubina Naqvi represented TRC at the Launch of the 2nd Conference Proceedings organised by Working Group for Women (WGW) at Aga Khan University on 15 September 2014. Members of the WGW reflected on the successes and areas for improvement of the 2nd Conference held earlier. Efforts made by WGW were lauded and the way forward was recommended by the speakers.

National ECE Curriculum (2002 & 2007): TRC’s story

TRC has been the lead agency to develop Pakistan’s first ever National ECE Curriculum in 2002. Prior to that, there was neither a curriculum framework nor a policy focus on ECE in Pakistan. The NECEC was approved and adopted by the federal government as the country’s first ever curriculum for Early Childhood Education. Curriculum development journey has been both tedious and exciting for TRC. It has been the most gratifying contribution to the public sector in terms of strengthening ECE as a priority for both policy and implementation.

Director TRC, Ambreena Ahmed, was invited to share TRC’s curriculum story at the regional conference on ECE titled “ Right to Education and Early Childhood Education –The Foundation for Quality Learning: Evidence from South Asia” organised by ITA with support from various donor agencies. The conference was held on September 16 and 17th and saw a number of notable institutions and experts talk about their programmes and experiences for promulgating ECE both in Pakistan and across the border. Since Government of Sindh was a co-organiser, representatives from the Reform Support Unit were active participants. The Senior Minister for Education, Nisar Khuro, was the chief guest who pledged commitment for continuous support for ECE institutionalization at the grassroots level as well as reinforced government’s commitment for the same.

TRC had also put up a display of its range of learning resources and the stall generated a lot of interest from conference participants; we saw visitors coming in to buy our resources as well as keenly inquiring about the different publications and resource material on display at the stall during the two days.

International Literacy Day

TRC Director, Ambreena Ahmed, was invited to attend the Literacy Day event organised by the Sindh Education Foundation, Government of Sindh, on September 8th 2014 at the Karachi School of Business and Leadership.

The event was an effort to highlight challenges faced by Pakistan and in particular Sindh as far reaching the literacy goals by year 2015 is concerned. After the welcome note and a musical tableau presented by children, a panel discussion was conducted to share viewpoints of educational experts as to how literacy can catalyse sustainable development.

Senior Minister for Education, Mr. Nisar Ahmed Khuro, chaired the event.

Visitors at TRC

Ali Akbar Rahimoo, Executive Director of Association for Water, Applied Education & Renewable Energy (AWARE) visited TRC with his colleague Manoj Kumar on September 17, 2014. The purpose of the visit was to get information about TRC’s services and learning resources. Detailed orientation was provided to the visitors who showed keen interest in the resources developed by TRC.

Mr. Saeed ul Hasan, Head of Education, Oxfam, Islamabad paid a visit to TRC on September 30, 2014 upon invitation by the TRC Director. The purpose of the meeting was to explore possibilities of collaboration with Oxfam for educational initiatives. Mr. Hasan shared useful insights regarding Oxfam’s priorities and way forward and said he would make conscious efforts to keep TRC posted about any relevant partnership opportunities in future.