KARACHI: Seventy percent of primary school teachers across Sindh teach their classes for merely 15 of the 35 minutes assigned to each subject daily. Only 20 percent teach for more than 20 minutes while the remaining 10 percent offer even less than five minutes of teaching time in their classrooms.
These were the statistics of a baseline study piloted by the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) under the Strengthening Teacher Education in Pakistan (STEP) project at a seminar attended by educationists, executive district officers and other government officials.Additional Secretary, Education and Literacy Department Muhammad Shariq was the chief guest on the occasion.
The study covered 196 schools and over 6,000 students from classes IV and V across several districts of Sindh. It gathered information on student populations and prevailing teaching, learning and management practices in these schools, as well as data on student learning achievements in four core subject areas i.e. mathematics, science, English and social studies.
Unsurprisingly, students were shown to be performing poorly with just 17 percent obtaining pass marks in tests. Girls performed relatively better in all subject areas as compared to boys even though they were not encouraged or provided equal opportunity to participate in classroom.Only 56 percent of the enrolled students attended classes regularly, with the remainder either attending school intermittently or remaining absent.
While it is well known that head teachers play a very important role in improving the quality of education in schools, the survey results indicated that their current levels of leadership and management skills were either unsatisfactory or very basic at best. This suggests that head teachers need more support from local school education managers to take on a school management role.
“We are all concerned about the many children who are ‘out of school’, but we seem to be the least concerned about girls and boys who are ‘out of education’ despite being in school,” said Dr Takbir Ali, STEP project coordinator while addressing the participants.Analysis of the survey data has yielded a number of important findings, which have significant policy implications on how to improve the quality of education.The study has recommended enhancing teachers’ morale, involving the community at various levels and improving head teachers’ capacity to perform.
It has also recommended establishing a province-based examination regulatory authority for primary and elementary schools to ensure standardised exams and periodic testing, focusing on quality across schools and districts.“We are very pleased that the STEP project is addressing the needs of teacher education in selected districts of Sindh and later Balochistan which will help other districts learn from best practices,” said Dr Muhammad Memon, Director, AKU-IED. – Brecorder