Motivating the teacher

By Zubeida Mustafa

A NUMBER of reports on education in Pakistan confirm what has been long suspected. Without improving the quality of our teachers, quality education for all will remain a pipe dream. Howsoever much their economic status may be boosted, it will have no impact on education for children from the low socio-economic classes if teachers are not taught how to teach and what to teach.

Many well-meaning, no-profit NGOs that are entering the school sector are learning this the hard way through experience and after much experimentation. The Garage School in Karachi that was opened by Shabina in her garage in 1999 to teach the children of the underprivileged the three Rs is a case in point. It is in the process of launching a teachers’ training project to upgrade its teachers.

Garage-School-in-2000The Garage School has expanded rapidly in the decade and a half that it has been in existence. Shabina understood fast that a holistic approach is essential for human development. You cannot expect an undernourished and sick child to be a quick learner. Hence she has a health and nutrition programme that is an integral part of her education system.

The children are provided milk, biscuits and fruit courtesy some kind donors. Shabina also sees to the happiness and welfare of the community by providing the families of the students food rations once a month and in Ramazan. The children receive clothes for Eid and there are extracurricular activities in plenty.

Challenges can be expected for a new teachers training centre.

Yet Shabina was not satisfied with the quality of education that she could provide, notwithstanding the few exceptional students that emerged from the TGS. Now it seems the TGS can hope for a turnaround.

The year 2014 opened on a new note when TGS announced that it was launching a teachers’ training centre to “provide professional development courses” to teachers not only of the Garage School but also other schools in the neighbourhood.

To learn more about this move I met Anita Florijn, director of Family Educational Services Foundation, who is playing a key role in organising this centre.

Anita, who is from Holland, has lived in Pakistan for 25 years. She didn’t expect to remain here for that long. But she derived tremendous satisfaction from her job as a teachers’ trainer and the Deaf Reach Programme she and her colleagues at the FESF founded to empower the hearing-impaired through education and training.

Anita has devised a teachers’ training programme for the professional development of teachers. All the aspects of pedagogy are taken care of and the teaching methodologies that will be taught range from child development theories, behaviour management, classroom organisation to phonics and courses in science, maths and social studies.

Avoiding a hierarchal structure, Anita wants to involve other members of the staff of TGS and Zarafshan to share responsibilities with her. What appears to be promising is Anita’s approach, especially what she has borrowed from her MOVE (Motivated Volunteer Empowerment) programme that seeks to “effect social change by training and engaging Pakistani youth in meaningful community development”.

Anita is a great motivator; motivation is the key missing element in Pakistan’s education system. Anita’s style is not just motivational and encouraging, she believes in providing continuous support to the teachers who are trained. She insists on team work and adopts a holistic approach that perceives multiple stakeholders having a role in the child’s education. The children, teachers, parents, school administrators and the community have to be involved in the education process and their active participation sought if education is to succeed.

Shabina is conducting a baseline survey to assess the prospective applicants desirous of being enrolled at the teachers’ training centre. This should give her an idea of the calibre of the would-be teachers. This may require her to modify some of the courses as she goes along. An important quality in a teacher is her ability to motivate her students and make education their passion. People who have achieved greatness have invariably attributed their success in life to a teacher who kindled the love of learning in them.

One wishes this venture all success. It called for immense courage to conceptualise and launch a teachers’ training centre in a low-income locality. Challenges can be expected — there is the language issue and the teachers’ lack of knowledge of various subjects.

One must not forget that most teachers in Pakistan today are products of the degenerate system that education has become. There is no option because the government has yet to show political will to improve education.

According to the NEMIS report of 2011-12, 80pc of teachers training institutions in Pakistan are in the public sector and they train 99pc of our teachers. That should explain the slide in education.

Source: Dawn

4 thoughts on “Motivating the teacher

  1. Accountability ranks low among teachers : only one headmaster reported dismissing a teacher for repeated absence, in over 3,000 government school surveyed by Unesco. This was in sharp contrast to 35 headmasters who had sacked errant teachers, in 600 private schools under the survey.

    Accountability is among the many concerns raised by the latest Unesco report on teaching quality in schools. The Global Monitoring Report— Education For All 2014 focused on learning and teaching.

    Shortage of teachers and inadequate training have also raised serious concerns. The analysis shows that not even half the schoolchildren are learning their basics well in 21 of 85 countries. Of these, 17 countries are in sub-Saharan Africa; the others are India, Mauritania, Morocco and Pakistan.

    The only way to solve the learning crisis is to get teachers who are "trained, motivated and who enjoy teaching, who can identify and support weak learners, and who are backed by well-managed education systems," the report stated.

    The teacher-pupil ratio in many states is far from what the Right to Education proposes. More than 75% schools have multi-grade teaching. Teachers are also not trained to handle multi-grades

    Teaching doesn't always draw the best candidates. Teaching is seen as a second-class job for those who don't do well enough academically to enter more prestigious careers, such as medicine or engineering. Offering better salaries could get people interested.

    Teacher absenteeism is a chronic problem .

    However , apart from this genuine problem of " motivating teachers " it may be useful to remember that the total phenomenon of academic teaching and learning should be looked at as a well-oiled machinery of an automobile. Teachers are only one component of the system. Yes, one can tinker with this item : that is , **the teacher **.

    But just rectifying some aspects of the total problem will not get the expected results. OK, by some miracle ,if we some how have thousands of motivated teachers, will that be enough ?. NEVER !!!

    A motivated , creative teacher needs students who interact and actively participate in the classroom effort. In our societies pupils are discouraged to ask questions. A good teacher needs access to better textbooks and libraries. A good teacher can not deliver quality teaching without the help from parents and society at large.

    A good teacher can not teach successfully , if society and the pupils insist of being allowed to cheat during tests and examinations.

    If the final exam marks is all that matters, then teachers can not produce pupils who have a love for knowledge and learning.

    Teaching is a thankless job.

  2. Shabina and Anita being an epitome of MOTIVATION would create a synergy in accomplishing the sacrosanct mission of infusing a renewed spirit in the Teaching profession. We all pray for their success.

  3. Some years back,I was taken around by Shabina to show her work.It is no more a garrage school but a huge effort in hired buildings,although that pioneering garrage is also functional.I noticed her quiet determination,her dignified poise and also met with her aged mother who she looked after in her flat.Shabina Mustafa has very correctly identified the one issue that underlies the plight of education,TEACHERS TRAINING.My experience with govt schools tell's me that there are 25% teachers who may be incorrigible and need to be just removed from teaching assignments.The remaining ones need to be put through regular training and education managers held accountable for delivering.Most of all,POLITICAL INTERFERENCE MUST STOP.It is holding back edu managers who want to bring about positive change.

  4. There are too many aspects of education that need attention in Pakistan. You pointed out a few , e.g. quality of teachers, quality of education for all, boosting of the economic status of the profession, education of the "low socio-economic classes and many more. Each of these need a voluminous book to address the issue adequately and perhaps a generation or two to make a significant impact.
    The chicken and egg question will perplex many a generations to come.
    Let me give my succinct view on one or two.
    The most important of all these is the national consensus on the policy of education. That only can be achieved by the national leadership. That is your first and a king size hurdle to cross.
    There are two guiding principles to help.
    Our prophet (pbuh) layed down the first plank for us. Education for all , whatever the hurdles and whatever distance you may have to travel.The other one equally important if not more so . The prophet as a best teacher set a basic principle. No physical punishment for the pupils whatever the reason. He never hit his children and he certainly never permitted anybody to use physical punishment for the young pupils. Other forms of punishments were equally abhorrent to him.
    So let us follow the example of our eternal and permanent guidance without any equivocation.
    In my view these two principles lay the bases of all for a predominantly Muslim society.

    I suppose there are many issues as to what to teach, our experience and history teaches us a few important lessons. Our political leader the Quid-i-Azam advised us to make sure that the state has no business in our religion. Get the religion out of state's business. If you do not it will be akin to growing high quality seeds on a salt infected land.Spanish Muslims left envious chapter in Muslim history, religion did not stop all religions to make a contribution.

    The second very familiar and crucial experience all muslims should remember that only religious and Quranic education was not enough to save all Muslim countries from suffering a period of colonial slavery. If the young are ignorant of the current scientific knowledge , we will never achieve our destiny. It is just like fighting people with guns with bow and arrows. You got to be brain dead not to understand that.
    Here we are facing horrendous challenges, let us say on a crossroads, with the knowledge and experiences of our history to decide the future way to go. In a democracy of a sort, you need to think with your head, and put the emotions to one side.

    Which way you want to go ? Next time it comes to deciding at the election, whom to vote for, the decision is clear. Only and only those who give a clear programme of educating the nation. No matter if the person you vote for is rich or poor , from your clan or tribe or not. Does this person intend to pay a serious attention to the education budget. If the education budget is not bigger than the defence budget it is not the right person to vote . That is the salvation of your nation and the only way to get out of the qquagmire we are in.

    Yes there are other things need doing but the priority is long term plan to get out of the situation we are in.
    We have millions of our children living in abject poverty.
    Just guess how many diamonds are there unpolished and left to go to waste. How many of them will and can come to mature and guide us out of our poverty and ill health. How many Nobel Prise winners are there to guide the world to a better place. Let us not ignore them for the few crums we are focusing on.
    As I said in the beginning most of the aspects need space to examine. I was born in the Punjab , did my first degree from there then came to the UK, went to the universities, became a primary school specialist teacher , but taught in different age group schools , retired as a Head Teacher of a large Primary school covering the nursery, infant, lower juniors and middle school age youngsters. I will be eighty coming Christmass, Happily living in comfortable retirement. Still yearn for my homeland.

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