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.

They use the language like an expert with the difference that they do not know the daunting terms of grammar. They deal with and describe people, relationships, things around, animals and places in so many different ways. They are also able to express and qualify actions but what they do not know is that a particular word they use so frequently is called a noun, a verb, or an adjective etc.

What they do not know and they need to learn in school is how to read and write. And building on the firm foundation they already have, the role of the school should be to build on this prior knowledge and equip the child with the higher language and communication skills.

But what is the reality of teaching literacy in schools? Tragically, the huge body of this existing knowledge goes totally unrecognized and is effectively white washed. And their mind is treated as a blank slate. This leaves the children in a trauma, to say the least. They are thrown in a totally alien world of mechanical, isolated teaching. They are required to memorize the letters of alphabet; phonic teaching can be as divorced from reality as alphabet based teaching when phonic connections are made superficially.

Khoj methodology recognizes and builds on the vast body of linguistic competence children possess before coming to school. They are not forced into mechanical memorization of letters no matter what you call it – alphabetic or phonic. Before entering into the world of reading and writing, the phonemic awareness is built on their situations and environment where they make use of the language. A clear link is established between the phonemes and the spoken word. Phonemic understanding emerges from the real and live conversation which is facilitated through a variety of common sense techniques. The use of techniques is participatory and is joyful for children. Lectures are not given but the activities lead them to make up their mind and conclude on the linkage. The conceptual understanding of phonemes is a key to literacy. If children are able to decode, segment and blend words and sentences at phonemic level half of the work of learning literacy is done.

Once the children are able to place the phonemic value of a specific sound in a word the job of assigning written representations is not daunting for the learners. The need to learn forty seven letters of alphabet which are used to write forty six phonemes in Urdu language. Interestingly, the script of Urdu language can be classified in five basic shapes. A range of techniques are used which makes learning of written representations of corresponding phonemes hassle free. It is learning through chatting and playing. Urdu script has various shapes for each letter for their designated positions. Only one playful activity is enough to explain initial, medial, final and independent shapes of the letters and the problem is solved for rest of the learning course.

As the words to teach are picked from the sentences they speak in the first or the second language, sentence making and sentence writing is not marred with dull and boring tips and exercises of grammar.

Children are made owners and creators of what they write, not just the passive recipients of compartmentalized knowledge of a fixed list of essays, stories and poems. They are encouraged to apply their previous knowledge and skills to the new learning and to make connections how new knowledge can be constructed joining various pieces from the old and new knowledge. The way is paved for them to express themselves freely. They are also facilitated to read more and more to feed their imagination, to enhance and enrich their vocabulary and to hone their writing skills.

Learning a language is not just about acquiring a set of certain skills but supports in imparting values, building a worldview that crosses boundaries and helps in shaping character and citizenship.

A teacher holding a matriculation certificate and trained in Khoj methodology can make children readers  and writers with basic skills in a period of six months.

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

  1. Lisa Tener says:

    Wow, this sounds like a powerful methodology. Is this used in the US as well or is it only in Pakistan at this point?

    • Nasira Habib says:

      Thanks, Lisa. So far, it has been used with fantastic results in Pakistan and India. I would very welcome an opportunity to prove the advantages of the methodology in the US through collaborations with organizations and professionals like you.

  2. Sadaf says:

    Nasira, I would be interested to learn more about Khoj methodology. Let’s connect over email?


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