Overview of teacher training policies
There have been recent developments with regard to teacher training in Pakistan. The Education Sector Reforms Action Plan (2001-06) laid out innovative techniques to improve teacher education. These included setting up of Tehsil Teacher Resource Centres (TRCs) for which PKR 2,500 million were allocated. (USAID Pakistan, 2006).
On a provincial level, policies have been created to improve teacher education. In Punjab, The Directorate of Staff Development works on developing teacher training frameworks and follow-up support for primary teachers’ development. Quality assurance mechanisms were also developed. Teacher training in Punjab has commenced in 11 districts and 11,000 teachers have been trained. (World Bank, 2006). The Sindh Education Plan from 2005-16 was one major reform with respect to teacher training and education development in the province. It was aimed at improving effectiveness and efficiency of educational resources and delivery. It further included in-service teacher training, building of teacher training colleges, and materials production training which includes curriculum development. (Education and Literacy Department, 2005). Developments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan have included EFA Action Plans and USAID assistance in improving in-service teacher training programs.
On an international level, Pakistan has made commitments with Education for All (EFA) and is the first country to have come up with a fifteen year Plan of Action concerning EFA. (Khan, 2004). Asian Development Bank launched a Teacher Training Project which planned to train 160,000 teachers with 60% of them being women. There were several programs aimed at health and safety, gender rights, and curriculum development targeting areas such as Hunza, Baluchistan etc. (CIDA, 2000) Other international agency developments in the field have been conducted by AusAID, DIFD, GTZ, Government of Japan and many more. (USAID Pakistan, 2006)
Implementation and current situation
Simply looking at the policies and action plans is misleading because, as research indicates, there is a huge gap between policy creation and its implementation in Pakistan. Institutions led by the government fail to realize their plans and maintain accountability which rules out any prospect of effective delivery and quality assurance. There has always been a lack of adherence to public policy in Pakistan. Despite the increasing participation of donor community and international agencies, institutional failures do not allow the aforementioned policies to produce any results. (USAID Pakistan, 2006).
Furthermore, minimal attention is paid to licensing and accreditation. The requirements to acquire a teaching license are minimal. Provincial institutions work in isolation and do not pool resources, research, and experiences. Teachers lack major competencies which can improve their delivery. (USAID Pakistan, 2006)
Recruitment, by far, has been a major reason for this lack of effectiveness. The selection and screening process is highly relaxed. The job descriptions and performance appraisals are not updated and evaluated. This is also the beginning of a vicious cycle of teacher training where the trainers have not been exposed to creative and critical thinking skills so they never pass on the knowledge and ideas. There is a general trend of refraining from group activities in the training programs, hence, interactive ability and teamwork skills are not developed in teachers. (Reimers, 1991)
These and a sundry of other factors become bottlenecks which cause ineffectiveness of teacher training and education related policies. There are gaps which require strict legal attention and institutions must become law abiding for the policies to show any results. The students receiving the education are the biggest stakeholders in this matter.
The development of cognitive skills in children is affected by how teachers test them and encourage them to think critically. Private schools with slightly better recruitment and training programs have students with better cognitive skills than public schools. This is because they develop curriculums and conduct activities where students’ opinion and thought is appreciated over rote-learning. (Saqib, 2003)
There is formal research lacking in the area but news reports show the trend of severely punishing and abusing students in Pakistan. Teachers and principals with no training or education in psychology or child development adhere to extreme negative reinforcement practices on the reason of disciplining the child. In some cases teachers have also been reported to have said that it is necessary to improve the academic achievement of students. However, this does not only have detrimental effects on the physical and mental health of children but also leads to increasing dropout rates from schools. It is most common on public schools where the low-income population studies and where the children are in the greatest need to receive quality education. (Tahir, 2016)
As Arif and Saqib (2003) state, policies for improving the education in Pakistan have focused on generating greater financial resources. The donor community, local and international, has been actively involved in this. However, in order to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in primary schools, a shift from financial to production improvement is required. Teacher training and curriculum development with a special focus on children’s psychology needs to be assessed. Increasing amounts of finance will not be sustainable if there is no framework developed for generating better quality in teaching methods and educational systems.
This is also what basically differentiates private schools from public schools and makes them better at their job. Private schools focus on student development through teacher’s performance which is regularly evaluated. The recruitment process is comparatively stringent than public schools. They hire teachers who have better qualifications, and regular evaluations and training leads them to performing better than teachers in public schools. This, in turn, enhances student development and performance in these schools.