PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

The Global Social Network

Improving Quality of Primary Education in Pakistan

Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.

Improving quality of education is just as important as broadening access to it for Pakistan to reap full demographic dividend of its young population. Inquiry-based learning is an important pillar of the efforts undertaken by Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) and The Citizens Foundation (TCF) to improve quality of education.

Inquiry-based learning is a method developed during the discovery learning movement of the 1960s. It came in response to a perceived failure of more traditional rote learning. Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning, where progress is assessed by how well students develop experimental, analytical and critical thinking skills rather than how many facts they have memorized.

Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) has initiated “La Main a La Pate” – an Inquiry-Based Learning program in Pakistan with the support of the French government. First launched in France in 1996, the program is aimed at renovating and revitalizing the teaching of science in primary schools. In Pakistan, the PSF has organized three workshops to train teachers since the Pakistan launch of “La Main a La Pate” in 2010. The most recent workshop was in December 2011 that was conducted by two French trainers, Michel Ouliac and Patrick Marcel. It was attended by 30 teachers from Islamabad, Kot Addu, Rawalpindi and Karachi, according to a report in The Express Tribune newspaper.

A similar inquiry-based teaching effort has been undertaken by The Citizens Foundation (TCF), a non-profit organization running 730 schools serving over 100,000 students in different parts of Pakistan. It is described in a recent book "Back to Pakistan: A Fifty-Year Journey" by Leslie Noyes Mass. Mass was in US Peace Corp who served as a young volunteer back in 1960s in Pakistan. The well-written book is about her return to Pakistan and her impressions of the country 50 years later. In 2009, Mass found a very different Pakistan: more education for children, a much larger population, and a place not nearly as friendly to the United States as it was when she first went there in 1960s.

Here's how Mass describes inquiry-based methods used at a summer science camp for TCF children at primary and secondary levels:

"Inquiry is a form of active learning where progress is assessed by how well students develop experimental and analytical skills rather than by how much knowledge they possess. In a science curriculum, this means that students are presented with a problem and the teacher guides them to solve it without making the solution explicit. This requires students to work together, to think critically, and to search for solutions based on the evidence rather than the predefined "correct" answer."

Then she goes on to describe the details of the experiments used to teach primary and secondary students.

Both PSF and TCF deserve kudos for promoting inquiry-based methods to encourage more active learning and critical thinking at an early age. These skills are essential to prepare Pakistani youngsters to be capable of facing the challenges of living in a highly competitive world in which the wealth of nations is defined in terms of human capital.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Pakistan Primary Education Crisis

Indian Students' Poor Performance on PISA and TIMSS

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

India Shining, Bharat Drowning

PISA's Scores 2011

Teaching Facts versus Reasoning

Poor Quality of Education in South Asia

Infections Cause Low IQs in South Asia, Africa?

Peepli Live Destroys Western Myths About India

PISA 2009Plus Results Report

Views: 2404

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 13, 2012 at 10:26pm

Here's a report on the state of education in Sindh province:

Around 94 per cent of grade III students in Sindh cannot read sentences in English, Urdu or Sindhi after being taught in grade II, according to the Annual Status of Education Report 20ll (ASER) Sindh, which was launched on Monday.

The report highlighted the major differences between children, from five to 16 years, in 17 rural areas of Sindh with that of Karachi district.

For example, the enrolment rate of children, between three to five years, was found to be only 38% in rural Sindh while 69% in Karachi.

In the age group of six to 16 years, only 29% of the children were enrolled in schools in rural areas while in Karachi it was 71%.

Around 25% were not attending school at the right age – six to 10 years, in the rural areas. In Karachi, only five per cent did not attend school. In the 17 districts which were surveyed, around 90% attended government schools, 10% private schools and less than one per cent went to madrassahs. It was just the opposite for Karachi – 27% attended public-sector schools while the majority studied in private schools. Kashmore had the most alarming figures – around 45% children in the district did not go to school.

The report also surveyed the studying habits of children. It revealed that private-school students took more tuitions than those studying in public-sector. Around 18% children in rural Sindh, studying in private schools, took tuitions as compared to only 2.6% who went to government schools. The report also stated that there were more girls in government schools in Karachi (63%) while there were more boys in private schools (52%).

The good news

Not all of the facts in the report were alarming. According to it, Karachi had the highest literacy rate for mothers – 82%, as compared to Lahore and Peshawar.

The criticism

The educationists present at the launch criticised the government vehemently for its ‘non-serious attitude.’ However, they put forward some recommendations about how to use the information in the ASER report to good use.

Dr Thomas Christie, the director of the Aga Khan University (AKU) Education Baord, said that the report should also have included the number of languages exposed to children and if they were multilingual.

The director of AKU Institutes for Education D4evelopment, Dr Muhammad Memon, said that questions like why were the head teachers not able to do their jobs effectively and why did they get benefits when they did not even go to schools, needed to be answered as well.

He suggested that the process by which the teachers were selected and how they were prepared should also be examined.

Economist and former advisor to the chief minister, Kaiser Bengali, said that he had presented a charter of school reforms to the chief minister but it never made it to the cabinet. He also shared some features of his proposal, saying that there were 49,000 schools in the province while there was a need for only 15,000. “The principals in government schools should have full authority and should take action against teachers who don’t turn up.” Bengali suggested that the teachers should be relived from election duties.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/336050/what-is-your-child-learning-in-s...

http://www.aserpakistan.safedafed.org/

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 28, 2012 at 6:37pm

Here's a PakistanToday story on Pakistan Science Foundation sponsoring enquiry based learning in Pakistan:

The inquiry-based science education (IBSE) is imperative to boost students’ learning process and help them in developing their strong relationship with teachers as learning is a two-way traffic.
Chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) Prof Dr Manzoor H Soomro said this while addressing a teachers training workshop on “Collection, Preservation and Identification of Plant Diversity”, organized by the Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) and PSF, here on Sunday.
Some 70 science teachers from public and private sectors educational institutions of Rawalpindi and Islamabad participated in the workshop organized as a part of its public education program. The workshop was aimed at imparting hands on training to teachers on techniques of plants collection and preservation as well as their identification for setting up herbaria facility in their educational institutions.
Dr Soomro said the PSF was actively engaged in promotion and popularization of science and technology in the country through a number of programmes, including funding for scientific research, Natural Science Linkage, Industry Research and Development, Science Caravans programs and Inquiry-Based Science Education Programme launched in Pakistan with the collaboration of French Embassy (IBSE).
He said under the IBSE Programme, the PSF organizes training workshops for teachers to train them as master trainers on as to how arouse students’ interest in science subject through easy to understand and interesting experiments.
The chief guest said IBSE programme is going on in 30 schools in the country. He advised the teachers to co-relate this workshop with inquiry-based science education system. He said PSF has been invited to share its experiences about IBSE in an International Conference to be held in Helsinki, Finland in the end of May.
The Chairman also urged the teachers to set up plant herbariums in their institutions so that students could easily become able to identify the plants, which are most valuable natural resource on which survival of not only human beings but entire living things depends. He said PSF and PMNH will provide all possible help in this cause as they have experts of plants sciences.
He said to promote science PSF organized International Travelling Expos on Mathematics, Environment and Chemistry in all major cities of Pakistan. Dr. Manzoor Soomro said these expos received a tremendous response from the educational institutions and thousands of students and teachers benefitted from them. The Chairman lauded PMNH efforts to organize this workshop which would not only benefit the participating teachers in their capacity-building in teaching methodologies and consequently benefit students in their educational pursuits and career building. PMNH Director General Dr Syed Azhar Hasan said PMNH is one of the leading institutions actively involved in research in natural resources and public education for their conservation and sustainable use as well as promotion of science through informal means including popular lectures, film shows, training workshops, exhibitions, competitions, seminars and symposia etc.
---
Later, the participating teachers were taken to the field for plants collection. During technical sessions they were imparted training on their preservation, identification and documentation. The participants were awarded certificates in the closing ceremony.

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/05/27/city/islamabad/enquiry-b...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 28, 2012 at 6:45pm

Here's a piece by Athar Osama in New Strait Times on knowledge economy in Islamic nations:

The World Bank has described the knowledge economy as one in which "organisations and people acquire, create, disseminate, and use knowledge more effectively for greater economic and social development".

However, clarity ends there. The framework put forward by the bank has four dimensions: economic and institutional regime; educated and skilled workforce; efficient innovation system; and information and communications technologies. To assess the status of each dimension, it identifies 148 structural and qualitative variables.

We need a better definition of what knowledge is, and how it can be used, to produce a more accurate index of the knowledge economy in developing countries. For instance, a farmer working in Egypt or Pakistan uses knowledge of land management transferred through generations. Yet this knowledge is hardly captured in modern indices of the knowledge economy.

Although traditional knowledge serves the farmer well, greater access to new science-based information could help if weather patterns or soil quality change due to climate change, for example.

But these intricate details and complex facets of the creation, dissemination, and use of knowledge are difficult to capture and quantify. They receive short shrift when policymakers follow the latest fads in development, such as creating world class universities.

The Islamic World needs to move away from fads and symbolic moves, and make a sustained effort to bring about structural change and introduce new incentives (such as those that will attract better quality teachers) for producing, obtaining and using knowledge in society.

As Rima Khalaf Hunaidi of UNDP rightly notes in the 2003 Arab development report, "There is ... a pressing need for deep-seated reform in the organisational, social and political context of knowledge."

This reform must begin with education at the primary level. In most Islamic countries, the curriculum is too rigid to allow creative thinking, critical inquiry, and free flow of ideas. Students are mostly spoon-fed by an authoritarian figure -- the teacher -- and discouraged from questioning.

Addressing this gap will require experimenting -- fairly rapidly -- with approaches and ideas, to discover what works. Two noteworthy, albeit nascent, experiments to induce creative thinking and critical inquiry at an early age through robotics-based learning tools are happening at National University of Sciences and Technology and a private after-school programme at Robotics Lab in Pakistan.

Only when the Islamic World can produce free-thinking citizens will there be any hope of the emergence of a meaningful knowledge society.

Read more: http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/knowledge-economies-still-e...

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 8, 2012 at 9:13pm

Here's an ET piece by Aakar Patel on why Indian kids do well in spelling bees in US:

The annual ritual where Indians demonstrate they are smarter than all other Americans is the National Spelling Bee.

So dominant are the Indians in this school competition that they have been winners eight times in the last 10 years. If anything, this trend is becoming even more pronounced. Indians took the first spot in each of the last five years and all three top places in this year’s contest that finished on May 31.

What explains this total dominance of Indians, who are only one per cent of America’s population? It is hardly the case that we speak or write English better than Europeans or Americans. How are Indians so good with difficult words?

The online magazine Slate explored this subject in 2010 in their “Explainer” column. The writer concluded that the effort of an organisation called the North South Foundation was responsible.

This body of expatriate Indians conducted local spelling and other contests that made Indian children better. These contests were very competitive, therefore, giving Indians both experience and an edge when they took the national stage. The Slate writer doesn’t explore why it is that Indians are so enthusiastic about this particular contest in the first place.

The fact is that it plays to their strength, which is learning by rote. Memorising tracts is and has always been the Indian way of acquiring knowledge. It is also the way in which learning is examined in Indian schools. Answers to questions about history, geography and even science that aligned word for word with what the textbook said got you full marks when I was a child, and this hasn’t changed.

Indians have a word in each of their languages for this sort of learning. It is called ratta in Hindi, for instance, and gokh in Gujarati. It refers to reading, repeatedly reciting, and thereby, memorising whole pages of prose.

This may not be a good way of learning, if it is learning at all, but this has always been the case in India. Hindus developed a complex system of memorising and reciting the entire Rig Veda so that it would not be lost in the period before literacy.

Even today, Indian adults consider it an act of learning to be able to put on display their ability to be mug up. Stephen Cohen wrote about this in his book India: Emerging power. He remarked that there was a difference in styles when Indian and American diplomats negotiated. Indians took pride in recounting the minutiae of events in the past, dates and background and that sort of thing. This was done, Cohen felt, for no reason other than to show that there was mastery over the subject. Americans, on the other hand, were focussed only on the issue at hand.

It is true that all students, whether Indian or not, must memorise to be able to do well in America’s National Spelling Bee. A Washington Post report before the finals quoted one American child’s mother saying that her son had studied for 8,000 hours in preparation.
------------
This advantage Indians have of being able to find the time and motivation to commit things to memory is not particularly useful outside of things like spelling contests. It is of no use in thinking about problems and solutions. I would say it is the reason why the output of our colleges and universities is low on quality (India’s software body NASSCOM says nine out of 10 Indian engineering graduates who apply to one of the big four software firms are rejected as being unemployable).

So while India’s dominance of the National Spelling Bee puts on display its middle class values, it also showcases the problems of its system of education.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/387854/why-indians-win-the-spelling-bee/

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2012 at 6:46pm

Here's a description of a recent NPR show on importance of non-cognitive skills for children to succeed:

Ira talks with Paul Tough, author of the new book How Children Succeed, about the traditional ways we measure ability and intelligence in American schools. They talk about the focus on cognitive abilities, conventional "book smarts." They discuss the current emphasis on these kinds of skills in American education, and the emphasis standardized testing, and then turn our attention to a growing body of research that suggests we may be on the verge of a new approach to some of the biggest challenges facing American schools today. Paul Tough discusses how “non-cognitive skills” — qualities like tenacity, resilience, impulse control — are being viewed as increasingly vital in education, and Ira speaks with economist James Heckman, who’s been at the center of this research and this shift.

Doctor Nadine Burke Harris weighs in to discuss studies that show how poverty-related stress can affect brain development, and inhibit the development of non-cognitive skills. We also hear from a teenager named Kewauna Lerma, who talks about her struggles with some of the skills discussed, like restraint and impulse control.

We then turn to the question of what can schools can offer to kids like Kewauna, and whether non-cognitive skills are something that can be taught. Paul discusses research that suggests these kinds of skills can indeed be learned in a classroom, even with young people, like Kewauna, facing especially adverse situations, and also the success of various programs that revolve around early interventions. Ira reports on a mother and daughter in Chicago, Barbara and Aniya McDonald, who have been working with a program designed to help them improve their relationship — and ultimately to put Aniyah in a strong position to learn non-cognitive skills. (38 1/2 minutes)

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/474/back-to-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 27, 2013 at 9:25am

Here are a couple of excerpts on stories about Lego stores in Pakistan:

1. Express Tribune June 10, 2013:

Lego has finally made its way to Karachi. Originated in Denmark, the toy line consists of colourful interlocking plastic bricks which come in an array of shapes, gears and figures. At the launch of its first store in Pakistan on Friday at The Forum, Lego fans — children and parents — were busy constructing plastic architecture and enjoying a family day out.
The huge turnover reflects two things: there is a die-hard Lego following in Karachi and it clearly appeals to people of all age groups, not just children. Lego bricks are playful and can be assembled in numerous ways — you can construct objects such as vehicles, building and robots, wherever your imagination takes you.
At the launch, the store was abuzz with children as young as three (along with their parents) who were busy deciding which toy to take home. Children above the age of 10 were seen huddled on small tables busy building castles and buildings.
Amongst many parents present, Chheena Chappra, a mother who was seen with her 11-year-old son Habib said, “I have literally grown up playing this game [Lego] and years later, I see my young son being so involved in it. I think I am more excited than my son that Lego has come to Pakistan,” she exclaimed.....The price range starts at Rs500 and can go up to Rs100,000 and above. The colourful boxes were labeled with price tags, which were much more expensive compared to other toys in Pakistan. However, Saleem feels that the price is competitive. “Keeping the Dubai market in view, we have Lego toys at a much cheaper price,” he said..

http://tribune.com.pk/story/561411/dont-fall-to-pieces-lego-is-in-t...

2. Daily Times Aug 27, 2013:

With only a few months since its first store opening in Karachi, the Danish toy brand LEGO is all set to expand its operations in all major cities in Pakistan.

The giant toy company, which is known all over the world for inspiring children and young people to develop into responsible members of society through fun, learning and high-quality creative play activities, also aims to implement its education programme for local schools across Pakistan.

Bilal Saleem, country head LEGO Pakistan, stated, “Children are our role models. They reinvent the world and themselves in it over and over again, surprising themselves and others in what they can create and do. In Pakistan, there is a great need to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals, especially within education. As we seek to expand our operations in Pakistan, we want to make our contribution by setting up educational institutes across the country. These institutes will deliver teacher-tested, classroom – ready solutions for engaging and inspiring young learners and combine the unique, inspiring qualities of LEGO bricks with subject-specific tools and curricula so classroom teachers can meet key learning objectives.”

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C08%5C27%5Cstor...

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 26, 2015 at 9:37pm

The butterfly effect: Helping Pakistan’s children emerge from their cocoon

The human brain is one of nature’s most fascinating and mysterious creations, with its full potential still unknown. And Prof Tony Buzan is on a quest to understand how it works.

Buzan and his team have picked Pakistan as the starting point for their Butterfly Universe Initiative, a global movement for mental literacy that focuses upon ‘learning how to learn’. The project aims to unleash the potential of five million children in the country by 2020 through mind mapping.

“Our goal is to have a mentally literate world, and for that, everyone must think,” explains Buzan, the inventor of the mind mapping method and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2014. History, according to him, has witnessed every developed country being led by critical thinking — and the creativity and energy he sees in Pakistan’s people makes him think it is the perfect place to begin his mission.

“In this digital age, there are manuals for everything but our brains,” says Buzan. “Our vision is simple: learn how to understand your brain.”

There are three things he looks for in the teachers selected for his project: the ability to imagine, the vision to daydream and the passion to educate. “We as a team gave a formula to our master trainers to train teachers, who will further teach students to broaden their mental horizons and see the flip side of the picture.”

Over the course of the project, the teachers will be shown how to open up their minds, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. “The beautiful, vibrant butterfly we see was not always that way — it was a caterpillar that went through the stages of transformation,” Tariq Qureishy, the CEO of Vantage Holding and founder of 100% MAD (Make A Difference), draws a butterfly on a piece of paper to illustrate his point. “Unfortunately, our system never lets our teachers and students evolve beyond the cocoon.”

He hastens to add that the children are not at fault — it is the system and the teachers that share equal responsibility. “Our project is unique because we try to make learning for fun for children and teaching interesting for teachers.”

One thousand trained teachers from four different schooling systems, including The Citizens Foundation and The City School, have already started promoting mind mapping within their schools. “We are targeting 100 schools for a year, where teachers get two hours of training every evening and the students learn through a full-day training programme on Saturdays,” Qureishy shares the plan for the project’s initial phase.

“It is believed that if a butterfly flaps its wings in one place, it can cause a hurricane weeks later in a distant location,” says Qureishy. “The 1,000 butterflies that we have trained have started flapping their wings. It is only a matter of time before the rest of the world joins in.”

http://tribune.com.pk/story/858975/the-butterfly-effect-helping-pak...

Comment

You need to be a member of PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network to add comments!

Join PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

Pre-Paid Legal


Twitter Feed

    follow me on Twitter

    Sponsored Links

    South Asia Investor Review
    Investor Information Blog

    Haq's Musings
    Riaz Haq's Current Affairs Blog

    Please Bookmark This Page!




    Blog Posts

    Doctors strike continues on 3rd day in Punjab



    Doctors protest against Medical Teaching Institutions (MTI) act is continued on third day in all over Punjab, today (on Saturday).…

    Continue

    Posted by Sobia Anjum on October 12, 2019 at 4:54am

    Invest in Pakistan Summit: Can Pakistan Benefit From US-China Tech War?

    About 200 Pakistani-American and other American investors met at Invest in Pakistan Summit in Silicon Valley on October 3, 2019 at San Jose Sheraton. It was hosted by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC. One of the sessions I found interesting dealt with the opportunities presented to Pakistan by US-China technology war sparked by US…

    Continue

    Posted by Riaz Haq on October 11, 2019 at 8:00am — 2 Comments

    © 2019   Created by Riaz Haq.   Powered by

    Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service