education
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Aisha Sarwari |

The Elementary and Secondary Education Department (ESED) of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has addressed what is clearly an education emergency. A multi layered holistic reforms agenda can create a turn-around.

Facilities those are essential to maintain a bare minimum quality of education services. In the current government’s term, thus far there have been 73,418 – a 581% increase

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa currently has about of 1.5 million children out of school in KP. Meeting educational needs of these children is a formidable challenge. The ESED is creating a new narrative of systemic education reforms by both removing barriers to quality education and expanding access to the children who are left behind by an under-resourced education infrastructure. The commitment of KP Government to the large-scale education reforms is also evident in a massive 114 percent increase in the education budget.

Read more: A step in the right direction by the Punjab Higher Education…

Supporting learning through provision of better teachers 

Quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers. Research tells us that students placed with high-performing teachers progress three times as fast as those placed with low-performing ones. Also, the negative impact of low-performing teachers during the early grades is severe—almost irreversible.

As such, the teachers are central to the reform process. The starting point to ensure the quality of teaching force in an education system is to devise recruiting mechanisms that sift the best from the rest.  Accordingly, the E&SED has taken steps to ensure merit-based recruitment of teachers.

The total spending for the provision of missing facilities in schools has surpassed the PKR 21 billion mark. Migration from private schools to public schools is a strong indicator of improvement in the quality of public schools in the province

Over 40,000 teachers have been recruited purely on merit. These recruitments have improved the student to teacher ratio to 40:1.  For the first time, the government introduced NTS testing for the recruiting process to abolish nepotism in these appointments.

It was a critical step to ensure the department chooses only the best out of the aspiring teachers for the best job. Subsequent surveys of teachers’ content knowledge show that teachers hired the basis of merit have significantly better content knowledge of the subjects they are required to teach.

E&SED has also expanded the pool of potential candidates by eliminating the requirement of a professional qualification. This policy is designed to attract teachers with better subject knowledge. The teaching skills of the teachers would be honed through an intensive induction programme.

Teachers in KP schools now have to go through a mandatory 6-month long induction program. This induction program is designed to develop key professional knowledge areas and skill sets among the recruited teaching force. The induction programme will be delivered through a state of the art Learning Management System installed on android tablets. Over 15,000 teachers will be undergoing induction training programs.

Read more: Higher purposes of university education

Learning is not just for students but also for teachers

The induction programme is further complemented by a rigorous on-the-job continuous professional development regimen. It is an integral part of any educational system because only through continued learning and training, teachers can maintain high level of expertise and be current with professional knowledge and trends.

Regular sample based and large-scale assessments are underway. Standard best practices have been adopted to conduct these assessments

Professional development is no longer optional for teachers. By doing so the KP government has taken a major step towards performance management of the teachers. Teachers’ participation and performance in professional development will be linked with rewards, such as promotions.

Over 80,000 teachers have also been trained on using English as a medium of instruction. Currently 45,000 teachers are receiving training on the use of phonics to learn English language. Overall, more than PKR 800 million was earmarked for professional development activities in the year 2017-18.

Read more: Education: A privilege of the rich

It’s not just about teaching, it is about the content students are learning

The extensive textbook reforms program underway envisioned developing content that is in line with 21st century needs of the students. During the initial phase, textbooks from grade 1 to grade 5 have been revised and redesigned in accordance with the approved standards of textbooks development.

The second phase of the program is currently underway. Once completed, the textbooks of class 1-12 will have become more teachers and students friendly and, therefore, better facilitators of teaching and learning practices.

During the initial phase, textbooks from grade 1 to grade 5 have been revised and redesigned in accordance with the approved standards of textbooks development

The next textbooks will promote conceptual development and help in development of essential analytical critical thinking skills among the students. These textbooks will use the latest learning tools, comprise of visual illustrations, application based learning techniques and real world problem solving methods.

Changes in textbooks were introduced to eliminate an over emphasis on rote learning. The textbooks reforms incorporated science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary and applied approach into textbooks of all classes.

Universal assessments provide valuable insights for a digital literacy plan

High-Quality Assessments are central to the implementation of an ambitious quality reforms agenda. Regular sample based and large-scale assessments are underway. Standard best practices have been adopted to conduct these assessments.

Since 2015, BISE has been assigned to conduct large-scale assessments at class 5 and 8 levels.  Keeping up with the spirit of a uniform and universal primary education for all the assessments were made mandatory for all students, both from public and private schools in 2016-17.

Read more: Education in KPK: Government’s steps towards betterment

E&SED has also expanded the pool of potential candidates by eliminating the requirement of a professional qualification. This policy is designed to attract teachers with better subject knowledge

These assessments were based on students learning outcomes, which was developed with the National Curriculum in 2006. These tests comprised of multiple-choice questions (40%) and constructed response questions (60%).

These assessments were designed to measure development of knowledge, comprehension and application level items of cognitive domain. A total number of 422,471 students of class 5 level were assessed in March 2017. In 2018, ESED is aiming to conduct class 8 level assessments while continuing with assessment cycle at class 5 level.

Students learn best on chairs and tables with good lumbar support

Since 2013, the Government of KP has spent more than PKR 7 billion on provision of furniture to government schools, reflecting its commitment to provide students with a conducive learning environment. In 2013, most schools across the province had no furniture or it was sub-standard. Since then 1.4 million children sit on chairs in school instead of the floor.

Provision of basic facilities

In the five years rule of the last government only 10,770 missing facilities were built in schools across KP. Facilities those are essential to maintain a bare minimum quality of education services. In the current government’s term, thus far there have been 73,418 – a 581% increase.

The ESED is creating a new narrative of systemic education reforms by both removing barriers to quality education and expanding access to the children who are left behind by an under-resourced education infrastructure

The total spending for the provision of missing facilities in schools has surpassed the PKR 21 billion mark. Migration from private schools to public schools is a strong indicator of improvement in the quality of public schools in the province. Just in the last two years, 151,000 private school students moved to government run schools.

Read more: KP government allocates Rs.139 billion for education

Today 94% schools in the province have boundary walls. Over 68% percent have complete facilities. These numbers particularly the setting up of boundary walls will hugely impact the enrollment levels of young girls. Parents have a greater comfort level when sending their daughters to school in KP when they know that they are equipped with essential facilities.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessairly reflect the editorial policy of GVS.

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