Category Archives: Teacher training

Don’t Waste Learners’ Time, Integrate

How do children learn in real life? Are subject lines drawn in order to make the learning happen? Obviously, the answer is an emphatic no.

We don’t need to philosophize hard to know that children, before entering a school, have a profound understanding not only of their mother tongue but other languages also present in their social environment. It is common knowledge that children are able to speak three to four languages in a multilingual society. They can think, comprehend and express themselves; they know the right context and their selection of words is perfect. Most importantly, this learning doesn’t take place in isolation in the compartments tightly defined by subjects. A child is learning simultaneously how four bananas can be divided among four siblings; how many toffees are left if he eats up one of the three toffees she had and also how to make fractions of a roti so that two siblings can share it. Science is everywhere around them and they learn very effectively that fire can burn and they need to get away from it; salt and sugar dissolve in water and we can make a drink; water washes away dirt on the body. They can do and undo things. They ask questions of all kinds; what, how and why of everything. And nobody snubs them.

Urdu and English Languages Require Different Teaching Strategies

It seems we have forgotten how to teach the Urdu language. Our Urdu language teachers don’t know what treatment the language is getting at their hands. Are they teaching Urdu as a first or the second language?

Our teachers don’t know even the conventional method of teaching the Urdu language which demands a good grasp of the grammar and is long drawn and time-consuming. What to talk about the new researches and methodologies!

Teaching at the primary school requires knowledge, skills and critical understanding as at this level, one is laying the foundation of future and higher education. But tragically, everyone who is unable to find a place anywhere else feels competent and confident to teach in a primary school. Our schools in the formal and non-formal sectors are the breeding grounds for present and future teachers of the Urdu language who have no clue of how to approach the teaching and how to help children who are naturally ready to learn more than one language. Even the teachers at expensive schools seem to have very little knowledge and expertise which results in failure to cultivate interest and appreciation of the national language among the learners.  On the contrary, the culture promoted at these schools takes pride in being ignorant and illiterate in the language. Countrywide surveys also tell us that half the children in schools are unable to read a simple text in Urdu.

Do We Need to Follow Alphabetic Order to Teach Literacy?

Recently a comment was made about Khoj methodology that it didn’t follow the alphabetic order in teaching literacy and it was a problem that needed to be rectified. This statement prompted me to raise the following questions:

  • Is there a logic in following the alphabetic order to teach literacy?
  • Does this order yield sequential milestones in learning? Is a child able to write certain words and sentences after learning a given number of letters in the alphabetic order? For instance, can they make any given number of words after learning from ا to ث ہ or from ج to خ?
  • Is learning is at a faster pace if the letters of alphabet are first abstractly learnt?

The answer to all the above questions is an emphatic no.

Should We Wait for the Next Century to Become Literate?

Education in Pakistan is crying for help. Thirty per cent of Pakistanis live in extreme educational poverty-having received less than two years of education. At current rates of progress, Balochistan has to wait for the next century to be able to guarantee children their constitutional right to education while Punjab can achieve that only in 2041, Sindh in 2049 and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2064.

And those who are able to attend school, only thirty five per cent of rural school children can read a story while fifty per cent cannot read a sentence. They don’t fare really better than out of school children twenty four per cent of whom can read a story showing almost a parallel performance. What a great performance by those at the helm of affairs.

Let’s Revive Our Cultural Heritage for Early Childhood Education

Children learn most effectively and fruitfully when when they are taught through their culture; mother tongue, stories and games play a critical role. Instead of throwing them to the unknown and threatening world of imported games, stories, poems and role plays it is imperative to embed the early childhood care and development in the richness of local cultures.

Khoj Methodology – A Sure Way to Education for All in Pakistan 2

It is a reality of everyday life when children come to school, no matter how young they are, they come with a profound knowledge of a language.  They have already learnt not only the various elements of a language but also make a very skillful and clever use of it. Even before entering the school, they know how to express themselves in various contexts and situations. They have enviable vocabulary to express a range of complex emotions – their anger,happiness, excitement, love, affection, sadness, pain, likes and dislikes and the list goes on. They know perfectly appropriate use of words with falling and rising intonations to communicate with all kinds of relationships in the family and with a variety of friends. They know the age appropriateness of their expression and the selection of words; they know how to communicate with the younger siblings and friends and if required, how to instantly switch the words and expressions while talking with elders like father, mother, grandparents, uncles and aunts and strangers. They also express the understanding of the nuances of language when they make subtle differences in expression when they communicate with their mothers and fathers; there may be many subtle differences. Their selection of words and expressions may be very different. And the list of the variations is endless; how they communicate with the world.

Teachers Need Support

The purpose of adult and non-formal basic education is to provide an opportunity to those who
were left out or dropped out of school for some reason. There are a host of reasons why they
lagged behind in the mainstream of education and development. Generally speaking, they come
from the resource poor families who have no faith in the meaning and fruitfulness of long years of
schooling.

Khoj Methodology – A Sure Way to Education for All in Pakistan 1

The number of out of school children in Pakistan exceeds the total population of the countries like Norway, Ireland and New Zealand. According to the 2012 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report, the country is home to around 5.1 million such children, which makes it the abode of the second largest number of out of school children in the world. Unfortunately, the story of the dismal performance doesn’t end here. Pakistan is also home to more than 50 million illiterate adults which is the third highest number in the world. And almost half of the rural women have never been to school.


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