Events

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rethinking Education in Pakistan-Review in The News

Review by By Muhammad Ali Khan
 News, 27 January, 2008
Book: Rethinking Educationin Pakistan:Perceptions, Practices, and Possibilities 
Author: Shahid Siddiqui 
Publisher: Paramount Publishing Enterprise, 2007
Pages: 196 hardbound
Price: Rs. 345

'Rethinking Education in Pakistan' is a product of Shahid Siddiqui's scholarly pursuit in the capacity of teacher educator, researcher, and social thinker. The recurrent theme of the book is critical thinking and reflection which is very carefully built up in the book. Dr. Siddiqui's aim doesn't seem to reject or accept any school of thought in totality but to analyse and assess in order to offer a holistic understanding of the beliefs and practices and explore potential alternatives.
The writer draws the evidence for building his case from a very broad range of sources, ranging from his personal experience as a teacher educator and researcher, indepth study of the educational policies of the country, and contemporary literature in the domain of education. Talking about various components of education he refers to teacher as a central actor in action. He firmly believes that teachers can play an important part in initiating and sustaining educational and social change. In his words "A well- equipped teacher can create ways to improve the situation even under given constraint. The pivotal position of a teacher signifies the crucial role teacher education can play in Pakistan."

The structure of the book enables the reader to think and reflect on the Policy issues, Teacher and Teacher education, Curriculum and Materials which has its bearing on the other sections of the book: Language Issues, School, Home and the current Research and Assessment practices in Pakistan.
In the first section of the book under the heading Policy issues have six articles that offer the critique of the philosophy of neo-liberalism and its unquestioned, unchecked pervasive impact on the entire education system of Pakistan. The main concern these articles show is the need to revisit the educational policy of Pakistan striking the balance between the qualitative and quantitative aspects in all areas of education in Pakistan. The article 'Commodification of Education' clearly shows that the entire academic system of the country has turned into a supermarket. "A large number of educational institutions emerged as 'industrial Zones' or 'production units' whose sole aim was maximising the profit by producing more." In this corporate model that is being followed, the writer makes his readers see that knowledge is seen as commodity, Knowledge is commodity, and teachers are reduced to the level of sales person. To drive his point across, the writer gives the example of famous private schools with their chain across the country which Rehman (1998) calls them business empire. Siddiqui sees the mercantile practices in opening the branches which he calls 'outlets'. His description evokes Conrad's 'Nostroma', 'Heart of Darkness' and the classic of 'Robinson Crusoe' where the main principle is the maximisation of profit and the exploitation of the simple masses. The major difference is the exploiters in these novels are the outsiders but in our case they are both outsiders and insiders.
Dr. Siddiqui supports the efforts made at improvising the Higher education in Pakistan but he raises the question of the qualitative aspect of it. The present practices of research in the local universities needs to be revisited. It is the absence of "research tradition" at par with the standard of world universities. In our education policies we have not given the due importance to the qualitative aspect of our educational institutions.
The second section of the book: Teacher and Teacher Education have eight articles whose main thrust is on changing the beliefs and attitude of the teachers. Unfortunately Teacher Education Programmes in the country have focused on methodology and strategies instead on enabling teachers to re-conceptualise basic educational issues. Like Tagore's short story 'The Parrot's Training', for educating the bird to please the Raja, all the stakeholders put in tremendous effort. A cage of Gold was made for the bird and scribes wrote books that could touch the sky. However, no one notice that the bird had died long in the cage. Teacher education programmes in the country has lost sight of the teachers.
The article 'The Work shop syndrome' demonstrates how novel idea of Learning by doing given by John Dewey, has been misused in Pakistan. The author is not against the novel idea of workshop whose entire philosophy was to add practical dimension to learning but with the practice of using the workshop as an end itself. The result of this, as Siddiqui argues that how educational change is possible without changing the frozen belief system. The touch and go teaching culture practiced at all levels of education known also as "briefcase teaching" culture is critiqued on the ground that it has not only created stasis and stagnation for the practitioners but has adversely affected the value system of eastern education.
The fourth section titled Language Issues explores the paradoxes in the language policy of the country and the practices of English Language teaching in the country. 'The Language Factor' questions the centrality English language in the power corridors of Pakistan. "Various governments, for their political interests, played wantonly with the issue of Language". Shahid Siddiqui (2007) together with Tariq Rehman (2000) and Sabiha Mansoor (2005) takes a stance of offering Language options and choice to the people of the country. The streamlining of the policy matters require consensus and debate and practical efforts to restore Urdu its due place as written in the constitution of the country and various policy documents. Moreover, this section also offers analysis of the ELT practices in the country. In Pakistan teaching of English Language is taken as teaching of English Literature as majority of the teachers perceive Language teaching as teaching of novels, dramas and poetry. The author proposes a middle ground of teaching language through literature.
Section 5, 'Curriculum and Material' reviews the latest literature published on curriculum and Material development. Siddiqui, as usual, is careful not to be carried away by the new slogans but analyses the impact of these on our educational context. He views curriculum not as something which sits on the shelf of policy makers but "a vibrant phenomenon of which students, teachers, teaching material and school culture are important components."
The last section of the book 'Research and Assessment' analyses the quality aspect of existing research practices carried out in the local university. "Most of the research in established universities in Pakistan is mere repetition of earlier ones. In some cases even the subsidiary questions of an earlier research are replicated. The ultimate aim of such researchers and research thesis is to get their authors degrees". Before making the generalised statement the author has unpacked his idea of quality which is the addition to the existing knowledge of the world. One can disagree with the author on setting such stringent benchmark considering the intellectual infrastructure of the country.
Rethinking Education in Pakistan offers a fresh perspective on the traditional ideas and notions about issues in education in Pakistan. Written in a lucid manner, the articles in the book form a coherent whole, engaging enough to be recommended to the widest possible audience, i.e., research students, practicing teachers, teacher educators, curriculum planners, and policy makers.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ideology and Education

By Dr Shahid Siddiqui
Monday, 31 Aug, 2009
IN the recent past, there has been a growing realisation regarding a definite need for the analysis and understanding of the phenomenon as well as the dynamics of education from a sociological perspective.

It is through this perspective that we can hope to get a fuller view of education which is essentially a social phenomenon. It is also important to understand that educational practices do not take place in isolation but are influenced, shaped and, in some cases, determined by certain ideologies. Thus, to bring a qualitative change in educational practices, it is essential to recognise the relationship between ideology and education and the vital role ideology plays in the conceptualisation and execution of education.

Before we analyse the role of ideology in the construction of social practices it is pertinent to unravel this term. ‘Ideology’ is an elusive term which has been used in different periods with different connotations. In the past, the term had negative connotations, but in contemporary times it is considered akin to ‘philosophy’.

‘Ideology’, in simple words, can be defined as a set of beliefs, usually entertained at group levels. Ideology at group levels can be contrasted with individual opinions in a society. A useful description is given by Eysenck who refers to three levels — specific opinion level, habitual opinion level and attitude level.

Ideology constructs the stereotypes that are legitimised and supported by certain social institutions. Thus, ideology that has the backing of powerful social institutions becomes dominant in a society and has the potential to capture the minds of marginalised groups. It is this subtle hegemony of ideas which was first focused and elaborated on by Italian scholar, Gramsci in Prison Notebooks.

Among other social institutions engaged in the process of socialisation, educational institutions play an important part in the construction and perpetuation of certain ideologies which generally serve the interests of the dominant groups of society.

If we look at the history of education in Pakistan we see how education has been used to propagate certain ideologies favoured by powerful rulers. In Ayub Khan’s era, the whole emphasis was on ‘economic development’ whereas social development was undermined. During Zia’s regime, educational institutions were used to ‘Islamise’ society, whereas Pervez Musharraf’s emphasis was on an imported brand of ‘moderate enlightenment’.

No ruler ever asked the masses for their choice or preference. They could make a decision on the part of others as they enjoyed power. The fact that every powerful ruler tried to use education to legitimise and promote a certain ideology suggests the significance of education and its two-way relationship with ideology.

Having deciphered the term ‘ideology’, let us briefly visit its relationship with education with special reference to Pakistan. We can do this by looking at ideologies linked with certain educational notions and practices. Knowledge in most mainstream educational institutions is viewed as static, predetermined and rigid.

This ideology of knowledge encourages a certain pedagogy the sole objective of which is to transmit or pass on pre-existing knowledge from one generation to another. This ideology of pedagogical practices does not encourage any innovation, creativity or reflection. The students are considered passive recipients and ‘mind-filling jobs’ are left to teachers.

The ideology of learning, encouraged by this kind of pedagogy, is that of cramming and recalling, which is rightly dubbed by Freire as the banking concept of knowledge. The ultimate aim of this learning is to cram pre-existing and fixed items of knowledge and reproduce them in examination papers. This ideology of learning is devoid of any critical thinking. Thus students find no motivation to reflect and reinterpret a phenomenon.

This process of dominant teaching and passive learning gets encouragement and reassurance by the ideology of the existing assessment system. Our prevailing assessment system is geared towards the piecemeal assessment of disjointed items where students are not required to understand and apply acquired knowledge. This prompts us to look at the ideology of a broader aim of the present educational system that is biased in favour of powerful groups. The kind of education, prevalent in most educational institutions, not only supports existing power structures but also widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Recently there have been calls for qualitative improvement in education. The required improvement cannot come from cosmetic changes. The problem is far deeper. We need to challenge ideologies associated with notions of education, pedagogy, learning, assessment and the aim.

Education has to move from transmission to transformation for which we have to revisit our definitions of knowledge. This would lead to more vibrant and interactive classroom dynamics where students are engaged in co-construction of knowledge. For this we need to challenge the ideology of an existing assessment system which is memory-based and is unable to tap thinking skills of a higher order.

We need to strive for an assessment system which requires students to think critically and apply knowledge in diverse contexts. For all these changes in learning, pedagogy and assessment, it is important that we revisit our ideology about the very aim of education. We need to challenge the transmission mode of education that supports existing power structures and move to the transformation mode where the main objective is to reduce socio-economic gaps in society and empower the underprivileged by maximising their life chances.

The writer is a director at Lahore School of Economics and author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan. shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com

New Education Policy

By Dr Shahid Siddiqui
Monday, 14 Sep, 2009
The central issue that needed to be tackled in the policy is the educational apartheid: elite and poor education. So the problem will not be solved by declaring free education up to matriculation. The issue involves the opportunities a public-sector school gives to a matriculate as compared to a student who gets an ‘O’ level certificate from an elite English-medium school. -Flickr photo

THE minister of education has announced the National Education Policy (NEP) for the next decade. It is interesting that the previous education policy, for the period of 1998 to 2010, had still not expired.

The justification for a new policy given by the minister is that the last one was not producing the required results. But this could be said about all earlier policies which were a lot of rhetoric and always fell short of reality. Even a layperson would know that the problem was at the implementation level.

This was the case with the previous education policy. The goals were quite noble but there was no political will to realise those goals. Instead of tidying up the implementation process, the government opted for an easy solution — a new policy. By offering this, every government gets an opportunity to make attractive promises and sellable declarations.

The worth of an education policy is no more than a political ploy as one can see a ‘disconnect’ between policies and practices in Pakistan. For instance, the education policy which now declares that English should be a compulsory subject is not new as this decision was taken in Musharraf’s regime and was announced by the then education minister, Zobaida Jalal. Similarly there is a ‘disconnect’ between policy declarations and budget allocations. NEP 2010 however, is different from previous education policies on the count that its process of designing started almost three years before. A number of seminars and meetings were organised apparently to draw the consensus of different groups of stakeholders.

The NEP looks like a long wish list. It’s replete with promises ranging from allocation to achievement of ambitious goals. Those who are familiar with the fate of previous policies consider the new policy as ‘too good to be true’. Let us look at some salient features of the document. The most important announcement is that the allocation for education would be seven per cent of the national GDP by 2015.

Can we trust this statement? Despite our desire, there are problems. If we look at the trend in the allocation to education in the last three years, we realise the reason for the reluctance to believe in the promise made by NEP 2010. In 2006-7 the allocation was 2.5 per cent of GDP and in 2007-8 this was reduced to 2.47 per cent. This year (2008-9) the amount further came down to 2.1 per cent of GDP.

These declining figures allude to ground realities where one can see a gaping chasm between professed ideas and actual deeds. Similar good news was shared by Mr Shaukat Aziz, the then prime minister, who promised that the allocation to education would be raised to four per cent of GDP. Instead of catching up with the raised figure, we sadly saw a decline.

Without suspecting the intentions of the minister of education, one can identify practical difficulties in releasing the promised amount by the ministry of finance. Speaking on a TV show, the minister of education admitted that the dynamics pertaining to the release of funds have not been sorted out. This aspect becomes all the more important as, in the past, actual release/spending was far less than the allocated amount.

Another ‘too good to be true’ announcement is that the level of public-sector schools will be lifted to match the levels of good private schools. And the deadline for this humongous task is 2010. Such statements tend to backfire. A natural response to the statement is, ‘how’.

Is there a magic wand which can turn sick units of public schools into private-sector schools? What does it take to improve the quality? Is it just buildings, or books, or teachers, or administration, or assessment or school milieu or a blend of all that constitute the notion of quality? How can this be done in a year?

Another very ambitious declaration is that, 'a common curricular framework in general as well as professional education will be applied to educational institutions in both the public and private sectors.' The question remains the same: how? There is no strategy mentioned in the policy document that could make us believe that this goal is attainable.

The NEP claims that the literacy rate will be enhanced to 86 per cent by 2015. This seems to be another promise which looks good on paper but its implementation is not that easy. Besides quantitative expansion, i.e. increase in the literacy rate, it is important to have a specific strategy for qualitative improvement of education in the country. The policy fails to provide a vision on the most important issue — social injustice and economic disparity. How can education be used to reduce gaps between the haves and the have-nots? How can it prepare thinking human beings? How can it challenge some of the taboos, fixed mindsets, and intolerance in society? Unfortunately the existing education system is widening the gap between the rich and the poor.

The central issue that needed to be tackled in the policy is the educational apartheid: elite and poor education. So the problem will not be solved by declaring free education up to matriculation. The issue involves the opportunities a public-sector school gives to a matriculate as compared to a student who gets an ‘O’ level certificate from an elite English-medium school.

The state seems to have given up on its responsibility to provide education and is thus relying too much on the private sector. This has turned public-sector schools into sick units. The policy does not talk about any strategy to bring qualitative improvement in public-sector educational institutions. On the whole, the policy focuses on the whys and whats but skilfully ignores the real issues of who and how. One wonders why such a significant document was not presented in parliament. A thorough discussion in parliament on the document could have enhanced its ownership and credibility.

The writer is a director at Lahore School of Economics and author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan.

shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com

Apartheid in Education

By Shahid Siddiqui
Monday, 12 Oct, 2009
A society of literate and skilled citizens has more chances of development at the economic and social levels. –File photo

Education is considered to have a strong correlation with social and economic development. In contemporary times when the focus is on the ‘knowledge economy’ the role of education becomes all the more important in the development of human capital.

After all, a society of literate and skilled citizens has more chances of development at the economic and social levels.

Education can reduce poverty and social injustice by providing the underprivileged resources and opportunities for upward social mobility and social inclusion. Yet, until the National Education Policy (NEP) 2009 was unveiled, the budgetary allocation for education in Pakistan was on the decline.

The lack of political commitment of the state has resulted in multiple educational systems which are inherently discriminatory and biased in nature. A large number of students are unable to attend schools. According to the Education For All Global Monitoring Report (2007), almost 6.5 million children in Pakistan do not go to school. Countries like India, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana, Niger, Kenya and Mali are placed in relatively better positions. The only country that has a worse situation than Pakistan’s is Nigeria, with more than eight million children out of school.

A large number of students who make it to schools, however, drop out by class five. According to NEP, about 72 per cent make it to grade five which means a dropout rate of 28 per cent. This significant figure further brings down the chunk of the population that makes it to school.

Such a large number of students outside school means that they are deprived of the opportunity to learn and acquire skills for playing a meaningful role in society. Social exclusion is a great loss at the individual and societal levels. Most of these out-of-school children experience poverty and unemployment and some get involved in criminal activities as well. Constitutionally, the provision of basic education to citizens is the state’s responsibility. Is the state carrying out its responsibility? The state needs to analyse the reasons be

hind the number of out-of-school children. They come from poor families and cannot afford the luxury of education despite their desire for it.

The real issue of educational apartheid comes to the surface only after joining a school. Enrolling in a school does not ensure the provision of quality education. There is one question which is central to quality: what kind of school is it? The answer to this question may include the state of the building, faculty, management, curriculum, textbooks, examination system and medium of instruction as well as the socio-economic background of the children.

The reference to socio-economic background is crucial as schools — like social classes — are stratified in terms of social status. So social exclusion is not only at the access level but also at the quality level. The widening difference between private and public schools is responsible for the gaping chasm between resources and opportunities given to the poor and the rich. Children from elite schools have enhanced chances of employment and social integration whereas children from public schools, no matter how bright they are, are disadvantaged in terms of getting exposure to quality education.

The famous slogan ‘education for all’ needs to be revisited. Is it sufficient to enrol every child in school? The continuance of disparity and exclusion goes on depending on the quality of the school. Thus the slogan needs to focus on ‘quality education for all’. It is the quality aspect which is missing in disadvantaged schools. Instead of taking some constructive measures to improve the conditions the state is taking the easy route of offering private schools as an alternative.

Government officials publicly give statements that public schools have failed and the only alternative left is private schools. I do not intend to underplay the significant role private schools can play in the uplift of the educational system in Pakistan. My only contention is that they are there to complement the system and should not be presented as an alternative to public education.

Education has failed miserably to reduce poverty gaps, social injustice and oppression. The education policy suggests that 'the educational system of Pakistan is accused of strengthening the existing inequitable social structure as very few people from public-sector educational institutions could move up the ladder of social mobility'.

What action plan has been given in the new education policy to ensure that this won’t happen in the future? Simply referring to a problem does not mean that it has been taken care of. The education policy should have given a clear and concrete blueprint to combat social exclusion, inequality and social injustice. The existing discriminatory educational systems are not only perpetuating the socio-economic gaps between the haves and have-nots, they are also responsible for further widening these gaps.

The writer is director of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore School of Economics and author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan.

shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com

In Search of Good Teaching

By Shahid Siddiqui
Monday, 26 Oct, 2009
THE teacher’s role in the process of learning is central. Teachers interact with students and teaching materials and in the process play a vital role in the improvement of education. Recognising this, teacher education programmes are available at the national level for the ‘training’ of teachers.

It is interesting to note that though there are some quantitative attributes of good teaching, beyond a certain level teaching becomes qualitative and difficult to measure. That is why teaching is considered simultaneously a science and an art. The latter attribute is difficult to quantify and thus even good teachers are unable to give a recipe for good teaching.

As a teacher educator I have observed that teachers are generally fed on ‘given knowledge’ and are prepared in the narrow and confined alleys of ‘training’. In this paradigm teachers are considered consumers of knowledge and are given a set of strategies in the name of training to be used in the classroom. There is no role for the teacher’s own reflections or personality in this paradigm. Teachers consider themselves helpless and do not dare take initiatives based on creativity and innovation.

This view of the teacher is perpetuated in most of our teacher education programmes. The ultimate outcome is that mechanical gadgets and acts have taken over our classrooms and have turned them into dull places devoid of life.

I have worked with teachers in different contexts in Pakistan. My impression is that there is tremendous potential in our teachers but they lack confidence in themselves. One major reason for this lack of confidence is that teachers are trained to rely on the crutches of techniques and fashionable jargon. I have been asked one question a number of times by teachers: ‘what is the best teaching style?’ This question usually emerges after discussions on theories of education or teaching styles. One purpose of such discussions

in a teacher education programme is to expose the participants to the various possibilities in terms of historical developments and philosophical outlooks.

Another important point to consider is that for teaching purposes issues are put into different slots for the sake of explanation through comparison and contrast. In real life, however, we do not find such watertight compartments as perspectives may overlap. The question ‘which is the best teaching style?’ is in fact a desire to have access to the ‘ultimate recipe’ for good teaching. However, there is no single, fixed, recipe for good teaching.

The individual style is the best style. This response focuses on the personal role in teaching, which means how the teacher’s own self is used to make sense of texts and their context. The role of the self makes the process of teaching and learning more meaningful and helps teachers make modifications according to the needs of the learners.

This blend of the teacher as a professional and a person is vital for effective teaching. Each teacher has different experiences and different strengths. Thus instead of longing for the best teaching style a teacher may come up with a style based on his/her own experiences.

This, however, does not mean that knowledge and research should become irrelevant. On the other hand a teacher must have awareness of the latest happenings in the field. But knowledge should not be taken at face value. It is the teacher’s own personal practical knowledge that makes the learning process meaningful.

How can a teacher realise the significance of his/her own practical knowledge? Most of these programmes have stereotypical curricula, which is executed through highly conservative teaching methods, where participants are bombarded with ‘knowledge’ and their own reflective faculties are either denied or underplayed.

The result is that in Pakistan although we find thousands of ‘trained teachers’ who have got certificates in teaching, the majority have just passed their exams by cramming the contents.

There is little change in their concepts, teaching methods and attitudes. Such ‘trained teachers’ are unlikely to bring about any positive change in the lives of students.

One can identify a number of factors that play a part in the sustainability of educational change in a school. Some of them include school policy, the cooperation of colleagues, role of the head teacher and the expectations of the management.

All these factors are valid but a very important one in sustainability is the teacher’s own personality and role. If the teacher, at the individual level, is enthusiastic and motivated there are greater chances that he/she can play an effective role in educational change and in its sustainability.

It is this individual factor that is missing in our teacher education. There is an urgent need to make teachers realise how important their ‘selves’ are. Teacher education programmes need to prepare teachers to recognise, enrich, enhance and apply their personal experiences in classrooms.

Teacher education in Pakistan can only become effective if it crosses the narrow alleys of training and enters the open field of education. The change requires a shift at the conceptual and pedagogical levels, as well as a change in attitudes. This is only possible when teacher education programmes stop producing mere technicians and start developing reflective practitioners.

The writer is a professor and director of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore School of Economics.

shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com

Can Schools Do It Alone?

By Shahid Siddiqui
Monday, 09 Nov, 2009

The promise of democracy is present at best in a project of resistance and possibility, one that is propelled by both a dream and a collective practice that makes justice, equality and freedom operational for all members of a democratic social order.
— Henry Giroux

THE process of socialisation owes its existence, strength, validation and perpetuation to a number of social institutions like family, schools, religion, the judiciary, media, etc.

In the past when the media was not that powerful and schools used to occupy the centre point in the process of socialisation, the processing of reality was largely done in schools.

In those times schools and families didn’t have distinct boundaries to divide them. Similarly there was not a divide between religious and secular subjects. Consequently schools used to enjoy the extra power lent to them by families and religion. All these functions — the shaping of minds, the construction of realities, the validation of ideas, and the certification of knowledge — were performed by schools.

A number of rulers and imperial powers used education and schools to attain and maintain control over the masses by turning them into academic drones. A more familiar example can be found in British India when Thomas Macaulay, in his well-known educational document called the Minute (1835), used all his efforts to advocate that English is the best language and English literature is the best literature in the world and that Indian people must be exposed to them instead of Sanskrit and Arabic.

The insistence on the introduction of English language and literature and undermining and ridiculing Sanskrit and Arabic was not just a linguistic issue. Macaulay was aware that language is a strong identity marker of individuals and nations and it is crucial to replace indigenous languages with English language and literature in schools in order to “attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” This challenging task could only be achieved through schools on two counts: a) the school as an institution was very powerful during those times and b) the outer realities were favouring the British.

Things have changed drastically in the last three decades. On the one hand the schools’ capacity of construction, validation and perpetuation of knowledge is dwarfed by the overarching impact of the media that has an advantage over schools in terms of perpetuating its message in less time to more people and in a far more interesting manner.

The construction of reality that used to be the main domain of schools is now being successfully carried out by the media, like television and cellular phones. The process of learning is much more swift, engaging and effective as the children sit before a TV set where ‘realities’ are exposed to them in a subtle, innocent, but consistent manner.

This change of significance in social institutions has a direct implication for teachers, teacher educators and researchers as most of them are still expecting too much from school and teachers to bring social change in society. We need to realise that reform in the small circle of education can only be effective if the outer realities are not dominant. Progressive writers realised that the process of resistance would be ineffective if we are unable to realise the complex nature of the pressure of the outer socio-political realities.

The process of resistance needs a more diverse approach to take up the challenge of social change where different social institutions need to be involved and utilised. Keeping in view the enormity of the challenge and relatively limited position of schools, it is asking too much from schools to bring social change.

Since schools cannot do it alone the older strategy for resistance and social change needs to be revisited in the light of the changing times, changing realities and changing roles of social institutions. There is a need for diverse and inter-disciplinary pedagogies to communicate the message. These pedagogies need to make use of the media and diverse informal sources of education. This would also mean that we need to have a greater and more meaningful linkage with the other mediums, disciplines and communities to attain the socio-political objectives of education, i.e. development, equality, freedom, justice and critical citizenship.

The writer is Director of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore School of Economics and author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan.

shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com

Education and Social Awareness

By Dr Shahid Siddiqui
Monday, 23 Nov, 2009



If the schools are convinced that junk food is not good for the students they should not house such outlets on campus.—File

One of the goals of education is social awareness: a better understanding of society and the knowledge of available alternatives.
The notion of development usually linked to education should, according to Amartya Sen, promise different kinds of freedoms including the freedom of choice.
A prerequisite to this freedom is awareness of the alternatives and a sceptical attitude to that which is taken for granted. I’ll focus here on the inability of our educational institutions to create social awareness about the culture of fast food which is being resisted in various countries including India.
In Pakistan the fast food culture is not very old. In the last decade some multinational food chains have opened up their outlets in all the big cities of Pakistan. These chains sell a variety of burgers, fries and desserts.
A number of research studies suggest that fast food has hazardous effects on the human body, with obesity leading to serious illnesses. Similarly there are soft drinks that are injurious to health.
According to Vandana Shiva, a famous environmentalist from India, the society that shifted to fast food culture has developed health problems. She suggests that ‘Singapore is having to set up new obesity clinics, Japan has had a 70 per cent increase in food-related illnesses.’
Similarly the popular soft drinks patronised by multinational companies have artificial colouring and taste and additives which are not good for health and frequent use of them can lead to serious health problems.
Apart from the other harmful components of fast food mentioned by some research studies, another consequence highlighted by researchers is addiction. Fast food eaters do not find any taste in pure food items.
The majority of people who fall prey to the fast food culture are youngsters. Even very young children are addicted to soft drinks and processed milk available in packs. They find pure milk smelly and tasteless.
This impression is further enhanced by the onslaught of the print and electronic media where pure milk is linked with bad smell, dirt and disease. Some adverts aim at convincing customers through fear.
One ad of a certain brand of milk paints a threatening scenario and then offers itself as a saviour. These ads are run so frequently that young children’s and their mothers’ opinions are formed by these ads.
The excessive media campaign replaces individual choice with corporate logic in a subtle way. This is done so skillfully that a stage comes when people start considering their own food as inferior and accept the imposed food as their own choice.
This state of mind can be explained through the Gramscian notion of ‘cultural hegemony’ through ‘spontaneous consent’. Food is an important item of culture. Thus fast food items are not only impacting the health and local economy in a negative manner but are removing people from their own soil and society and ultimately their own identity.
The fast food culture, which in Third World countries is linked with the elite class, represents the so-called elite culture. Thus a section of our population goes to multinational food chains as they symbolise a certain elite culture and by sitting at those places there is a hidden desire to be part of that class.
An interesting but meaningful term that has been coined in Pakistan for elite families is ‘burger families’. Such terms and attitudes are a direct outcome of the fast food culture.
All this is made possible through the media power that plays a vital role in the construction of a certain kind of social reality that favours the interest of the corporation. Each corporation has many funds for media campaigns.
The sad part of it, however, is that with the help of the media pure food items are denigrated and artificially processed items are offered as the only alternative.
Multinational food chains are exploiting indigenous resources, changing the eating habits of the local people, impacting the local economy negatively and maximising their own profits.
The role of educational institutions in creating awareness among their students is not satisfactory. A number of big educational institutions are in fact advocating and promoting fast food items by housing the outlets of these items on campus.
In return they get monetary benefits in the shape of a building facility or provision of furniture, etc. In this way these fast food items and beverages get the validation of another social institution, the school/college/university. This validation is important as it further legitimises the social reality already constructed by the media.
The role of schools in creating awareness about food and eating habits is very important. It should be a part of the educational agenda of social awareness. If the schools are convinced that junk food is not good for the students they should not house such outlets on campus.
The schools need to organise seminars to share with the students the impact of different fast food items that contain harmful ingredients.
The students should also be told about pure food items and their impact on the body. These seminars could be conducted by doctors, nutritionists or environmentalists. Such awareness campaigns should be a part of the school curriculum as education is not just about getting a certificate but also creating greater social awareness and enhanced freedom of choice.
The writer is director of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at Lahore School of Economics and author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan.
shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com

Alternative Textbooks

By Dr Shahid Siddiqui
Monday, 21 Dec, 2009

EDUCATION can play an important role in controlling as well as emancipating groups of individuals. Realising its significance a number of imperialist forces used education as a tool to impose their hegemony.

The Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci called it cultural hegemony where minds are controlled through cultural means, without using coercion. Edward Said in his famous work, Orientalism, made it evident how language, literature and education could be used to control ‘others’ through ‘spontaneous consent’.

In the recent history of the subcontinent we see Macaulay’s proposal underlining the role of language and education as an ‘imperious need’. The dominant groups of society are convinced of their superiority in all fields including language, literature, education and culture. Thus they consider it their responsibility to invite other cultures, languages and literatures to the ‘melting pot’ of their superior culture and become one with it. In this approach there is no room for diversity and anything different from the standards set by dominant groups is dubbed substandard, defective and unacceptable.

The democratic approach, however, believes that there is beauty in diversity. Each culture, language and ethnicity has the right to flourish. This freedom of existence could be claimed through an educational system based on a vibrant curriculum, contemporary teaching materials and critical pedagogy. Education through such a system may lead to socio-economic development and the enhancement of freedoms. On the other hand an educational system based on the conservative idea of transmission, following a static curriculum, obsolete teaching materials, and recall-based assessment system leads to conformity and stasis of thought.

This kind of educational system is unable to produce students equipped with critical thinking to challenge some of the unwanted taboos in society. Such an education is incapable of bringing any qualitative change to the lives of individuals and society.When we talk of education we are obliged to discuss the notion of curriculum and associated matters i.e. teacher, student, teaching materials, school milieu and the assessment system. All these factors are important to make a curriculum happen in class.

Teaching material/textbooks play a significant role as the objectives of a curriculum are translated through the textbooks. In Pakistan textbooks become even more significant as the teacher’s role has been limited by the assessment system that revolves around them. There is not much room left for the teacher’s individual freedom and creative initiative.

Writing a textbook is a highly technical job which requires team work and detailed planning. The process entails different steps to ensure quality. In Pakistan, however, textbooks used in mainstream public schools do not follow a systematic writing process and thus pose a number of problems including those related to content, language, organisation and presentation.

The content may not be sensitive in terms of gender, ethnicity, social class and religion. The language may be complex in terms of vocabulary, syntax and semantics and biased against certain social groups. The organisation could be in violation of pedagogical principles of moving from simple to difficult or concrete to abstract. Treatment could be insensitive to the socio-political makeup of the marginalised groups of society.

These potential textbooks problems could be aggravated in the conservative paradigm of education where the whole emphasis is on transmission rather than transformation and where teachers find themselves the passive followers of these books. Neither teachers nor students in this paradigm dare to step outside the holy circle of textbooks. In this paradigm the chances of development of independent thinking are minimal.

The central question is: why should a certain textbook be used if the goal of the curriculum can be better realised by using an alternative one? Diversity in the provision of teaching materials on the one hand can create positive competition among writers and publishers, which is currently nonexistent, and on the other, provide freedom of choice to schools to select a book that they think is more relevant to their environment and more sensitive to the socio-cultural identities and beliefs of their students. There are a few potential challenges in launching the alternative textbook. The first challenge is whether the textbook in question is helpful in realising the objectives of the national curriculum. The second is the indigenous context which has cultural as well as pedagogical value. The third challenge is that of price. Is it possible to keep the price within a reasonable range? The fourth challenge is to make sure that one publishing giant does not monopolise the textbooks business.

The fifth challenge is that of quality control. How can we ensure that a private publisher would maintain the quality of the approved book? The sixth challenge is the potential demand of commission by some heads of educational institutions and the offer of publishers of commission in order to prescribe a certain book for certain institutions. To meet such challenges there is a need to set up an autonomous authority comprising education practitioners, researchers, etc, from the private and public sectors. This body should have the mandate to approve a book in term of its suitability, prescribe the price, monitor the quality and sort out complaints regarding commission demands. The freedom in the choice and use of alternative textbooks would certainly help our educational system to achieve its major goals of development, emancipation and justice and reaffirm our commitment to the agenda of social and political harmony.

The writer is director of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore School of Economics and author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan.

shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com

Adhe Adhoore Khawab: Review in Nation

Review of Dr Shahid Siddiqui's Nove 'Adhe Adhoore Khawab'
by Dr Shahida Mohiuddin


Dr Shahid Siddiqui’s Aadhay Adhooray Khwab is an interesting novel in Urdu language that engages the interest of the readers from the beginning till the end. Dr Rasheed Amjad, a famous short story writer and critic, comments in his review that ‘the story of the novel is so compelling that it makes us read it’. By writing this novel Dr Shahid has expanded the scope of Urdu literature. While reading Urdu literature one could read fine thoughts and beautiful imaginaries. But in this novel we witness the union of literature and education. In this sense Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, a renowned critic of Urdu literature, rightly calls this novel as a ‘trend setter’ in Urdu literature.

Dr Shahid Siddiqui is a well known educationist of Pakistan. He has taught in prestigious institutions of Pakistan and knows the scenario of education in Pakistan very well. Therefore, when he wrote this novel it appeared in a unique and exemplary form which is like a mirror where readers could see the reflections of issues and problems of our daily life and education in a holistic form which has various dimensions. The author did not limit the concept of education and teaching to the classrooms but linked it with other important aspects of life as well. Education- as a field- primarily draws its content and approaches from varieties of fields of knowledge such as: philosophy, sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, management sciences and so forth and more recently emergence of fields such as cultural studies. In this global village one needs to understand education from multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary approach. Only then we can understand true meaning of education. In this regard this novel opens new vistas of understanding education from multi/interdisciplinary approach.

The most remarkable part of this novel is the writer’s narrative style which is highly creative and fascinating. Each chapter starts with a narration of an individual. Each individual as a student, teacher or worker has his/her own life and brings a colour of its own and meaning to this novel.

The writer, while presenting the scenes of novels, has demonstrated his creative and artistic skills at per excellence. He has successfully painted the pictures of various cities, villages and institutions of Pakistan.

The plot of this novel revolves around Professor Saharan Rae who is a competent, caring and humane professor who as a fatherly figure knows the psyche of his students. The various scenes of this novel demonstrate that his teaching did not limit to the classroom but to gardens, hostels and hotels. Due to his qualities he is very popular among his students and the groups of students whom he did not teach. Among them is Imtisal Aga who comes to the city from a rural area of Pakistan. Imtisal is one of the major characters of this novel. She is bold and works hard to bring positive change in her own life, her family and her village. Professor Sahran, while mentoring Imtisal, knows that he is not teaching a student but a class and thus created an interest in her to go back to her village and teach children. The dream of the professor comes true as Imtisal, after completing education, goes back to her village starts teaching in a local school.

The most amazing and interesting aspect of Profssor Saharan’s teaching is that it not only teaches theories and ideas covered in the books but also prepares his students for life, inspiring them to create dreams. It is said ‘The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book’. If all the teachers in Pakistan become dedicated and spend quality time with their students and through the use of variety of teaching methods to enhance the self esteem of their students then the situation of education in Pakistan would have been quite different. The novel makes us reflect what each of us can contribute in the development of education in Pakistan.
We live our life among our family, relatives and friends but among all these relationships the connection with teacher is unique. Professor Saharan plays vital role in students’ life by inspiring them to bring a social change and in the process gives his life and becomes immortal. It is said that “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires and is like a candle, that consumes itself to light the way for other"

Professor Saharan besides teaching also takes part in politics. He actively participated in the lawyers’ movement and finally dies voicing for human rights. This novel makes us reflect that education also means creating a civil society where students, teachers and all the members of society participate to create good governance. At the end of the novel professor is no more in this world but through his students he is everywhere.

This novel is strongly recommended foe teachers, students, and people who love literature. It is in Urdu and secondly it is all about cultural beauty and its diversity in Pakistan. The language of the novel is simple yet it has all the beauty of literary style. The feeling that it is our own story enhances our interest and involvement in the novel and that is the basic attribute of good literature.

Book: Aadhay Adhooray Khwab
Author: Dr Shahid Siddiqui
Published by Jahangir Books
Enterprise: 2009
Page: 176
Price: 250\
Buy online:
http://jbdpress.com/
This article originally appeared in the daily Nation on Nov 15, 2009

Reason for Education

By Dr Shahid Siddiqui
Monday, 04 Jan, 2010
“Without a narrative, life has no meaning. Without meaning, learning has no purpose. Without a purpose, schools are houses of detention, not attention.” — Neil Postman

THE goals of education have been changing over different eras. These inform, shape and guide the curriculum, the assessment system, learning processes and pedagogical techniques. It is this

reason for education which Postman considers as the narrative. These narratives keep on changing with social, political, cultural and economic trends.

Currently we are living in the narrative of neo-liberalism. The desire for financial gains is the essence and soul of this narrative. These financial gains justify their means as there is not much talk of values and ethics in this narrative. The maximisation of profit in itself becomes an inspiring value. The slogan of quality is used to sell the product of education. The notion of quality, in this paradigm, however, is confined to measurable aspects of efficiency and productivity.

Recently there has been a lot of rhetoric to improve the quality of education in Pakistan but most efforts have hinged on the physical, measurable change as it is easy to bring about such a change and convenient to demonstrate it. The problem, however, with this kind of change is that it focuses only on the quantitative aspects and numbers tend to dominate more than individuals.

The school management believes in and encourages a machine-like, automated system of teaching and learning as it is handy to monitor, convenient to document, easy to evaluate and suitable to serve the interests of the management based on a hegemonic paradigm where there is little room for the in

dividual freedoms of teachers, for personal initiative, out-of-the-box thinking, reflective stance and creative space.

Thus the goal of education has been confined to produce mono-cultural minds, possessing a robotic thinking, acting in a mechanical manner, demonstrating efficiency and productivity by moving in set grooves and approving unequal social relations dictated by the powerful groups of society.

Postman in his provocative book, The End of Education, laments the state of schools at large. Schools, being an important source of the socialisation process are unable to construct their own narrative or reason. In most cases the schools help approve, certify, validate and perpetuate the powerful narrative or ideology of society’s powerful social groups. In contemporary times it is the ideology of neo-liberalism, based on the maximisation of profit, that is acting as a driving force in our educational system and in turn being justified by the existing educational system. This mutual relationship of convenience flourishes through privatisation of education and making the latter into a commodity.

It is true that the role of schools as a constituent of social reality has been constrained and curtailed with the emergence of a powerful media, popularising the ideology of consumerism, but even the little space for movement that remains with schools is not being exploited in a creative manner. The reason is the overemphasis on the development of piecemeal skills assessed through a discreet point-testing system depending heavily on objective-type questions. This kind of assessment is popular for a number of reasons including its so-called objectivity and easy-to-mark tests.

Such tests can be easily marked with the help of computers in a very short time. The problem, however, with such a testing system is that its scores do not reflect the competence and ability to critically reflect and apply knowledge in a new situation.

Such a point assessment system that encourages recall and memory has a direct impact on teaching and learning interaction in the classroom. In such a system where competence and efficiency are measured through a recall-based assessment system, the teacher is encouraged to teach with the sole objective of facilitating the students to get better grades. The vicious circle of recall-based assessment, transmission-oriented pedagogy and mono-cultural efficiency of students goes on to carry forward existing power structures and amplify and perpetuate socially constructed stereotypes.

How can a school be empowered to construct a reason for education? The answer lies in breaking the vicious circle and entering the benign one of assessment, critical pedagogy and intellectual pluralism. This may appear to be a straightforward task but in reality is highly complex and cannot be realised through quick fixes. Such quick-fix initiatives were taken in the past and assumed the form of crash courses for teacher training, widely publicised by political governments to enhance their images as they showed an inflated number of ‘trained teachers’.

Similarly tinkering with the curriculum is another convenient activity for all governments. The key to empowerment is a holistic approach to change. Assessment, pedagogy and teaching materials should be revisited simultaneously. It is this holistic change which would create space for teachers’ individual freedom and creativity and lead to a more meaningful teaching-learning process necessary for producing thinking citizens. It is in such a milieu that schools can explore alternative reasons for education.

The writer is director of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore School of Economics and the author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan.

shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com

Education and Media

By Dr Shahid Siddiqui
Monday, 01 Feb, 2010
“…[W]ithout a political project, there can be no ground on which to engage questions of power, domination, human suffering and the possibilities of human struggle.” —Henry Giroux

IN the tradition of the critical paradigm in education, Giroux, like Paulo Freire, considers education to be a political act that has an interactive relationship with society.

Educationists, in this paradigm, believe that education is not an inert and passive medium at the mercy of societal preferences. Education, in its formal mode, has been a potent force that has been the property of schools which in the past acted as a strong social institution.

In the eastern tradition schools were used as maktabs where religious education was part of the curriculum. Thus the strength of schools owed to their multifaceted use and their close liaison with two other social institutions, i.e. religion and family. With the passage of time, however, mainstream schools lost the support of these institutions. The result was that schools that had a powerful role in shaping society found their efficacy and scope reduced. The parallel change that was taking place was the emergence of the print and electronic media.

In a relatively short time, the media turned into a powerful force impacting the process of socialisation and social change with much more efficiency and speed as was expected from schools. The media had three distinct attributes in terms of communication. It could get across a message in less time, to a wider audience, beyond specific physical boundaries, and in a far more entertaining way. On the other hand most of our mainstream schools and their classrooms are boring places, lacking in the much-needed elements of motivation and interest.

Some educationists realise the gradually limiting role of educational institutions and the rapidly enhancing one of the media in bringing change at the societal level. Consequently there are calls from some renowned scholars like Henry Giroux, Michael Apple, etc., to extend the pedagogies by making links between schools and out-of-school sources, like the media, for effective and positive results. There is now public realisation of the potential role of the media as an aid to the goal of achieving educational objectives.

It is this holistic approach to education that can take on the enormous challenge of social improvement. How can we use electronic media programmes for promoting and improving? In Pakistan we see programmes offered by a couple of universities on distance education. On the whole these prgrammes are devoid of any interest and motivation. They have very low viewer ratings.

Now let us look at some positive examples where there is a blend of education and fun. One good example is the National Geographic channel which also has programmes for children. Another example worth mentioning is Sesame Street. Similarly MAD, shown on an Indian channel, is an interesting and informative programme for children.

How is our electronic media faring as far as educational issues are concerned? The majority of talk shows in Pakistan focus on national politics. There is a meaningless race for programme ratings and no or little space is left for discussion of educational issues. Similarly TV plays are stuck in melodrama mode. Films in Pakistan have fallen prey to stereotypical themes.The practice to stick to the routine recipe emerged from a sense of insecurity and a laidback style. The medium of film has rich potential to be used to raise some important educational issues. A recent example is Indian star Amir Khan’s movie 3 Idiots that challenges the robotic teaching-learning practices, recall-based assessment system, the imposition of parental choices on students, enhanced and stifling academic pressures on campus, and questions the aims of education. All this is done in an indirect way. The movie must have agitated a number of viewers over some fundamental questions about the educational systems in most developing countries that are producing students in factory model mode.

The challenge of social change is so enormous that it cannot be tackled through the schools that are engaged in promoting power structures. The role of the electronic media becomes more crucial in South Asian societies. For the innovative educational use of media a renewed strategy is needed that includes a more creative, systematic and holistic use of the media, especially the electronic media, to raise, discuss and debate educational issues and create social awareness. This would need a conscious plan to set aside time for programmes for the promotion of education. It is through this holistic approach that we can expect positive changes in our educational system and society.

The writer is director of Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at Lahore School of Economics and author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan.

shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com

Monday, March 22, 2010

Interview of Dr Shahid Siddiqui in Dawn

Interviewer: Dr Shahida Sufi
Sunday, 15 Nov, 2009 |
Dr Shahid Siddiqui obtained his PhD in Language Education from University of Toronto, Canada; MEd TESOL from University of Manchester, UK; and MA English from University of Punjab. He has been involved with the educational system of Pakistan in various capacities, i.e., as a teacher, teacher educator and researcher for about three decades and has worked in prestigious educational institutions of Pakistan including the Aga Khan University-IED, GIK Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). Currently he is working as Professor and Director of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at Lahore.
He is a prolific writer and has published extensively in national and international journals. He regularly writes on educational issues for the editorial pages of Dawn. Dr Siddiqui’s book Rethinking Education in Pakistan: Perceptions, Practices, Possibilities is used in a number of educational institutions for teacher education. His recent novel Adhe Adhoore Khwab deals with the themes of education, politics and justice, and has already attracted the attention of teachers, teacher educators and Urdu critics.

Q. You have been active as a teacher educator and researcher for the last three decades. What do you think are our educational system’s basic drawbacks? How can we improve the situation?

A. Our educational system is buffeted by multiple challenges that include access, dropout, quality, equity on the basis of gender, ethnicity and social class. In the contemporary times when there is a growing realisation about the potent correlation between education and socio-economic development, there is a need to place education at the top priority rung.

Unfortunately, we see that for the last three years the allocation for education has been on the decline. The problem of low allocation for education is multiplied by the problems of low spending and inappropriate expenditure. The improvement in education is linked with political will, good governance, effective monitoring and accountably systems, sound teacher education programmes and equitable educational opportunities for the rich and the poor.

Q. As you mentioned there is a relationship between education and development. Do you think our educational system ensures socio economic development for the masses?

A. Quality education is supposed to increase the life chances and reduce the socioeconomic gaps between different classes. Unfortunately our educational system is class-based and instead of bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots, it is widening it further. Our existing education system is conservative in terms of content, pedagogy, and assessment and thus helps validate, enrich, and perpetuate the existing power structures, injustices, and socio-economic deprivations.

Q. It was claimed at the launch of the new education policy that the level of public sector schools will be brought up to the level of private schools by 2010? How would you respond to this claim?

A. Our educational history is fraught with claims and promises. This claim is another addition to the pile. It is important to understand that the quality of a school depends on a number of factors including infrastructure, faculty, educational leadership, curriculum, textbooks, assessment, etc. The process of change is long, slow and painful as the forces of resistance simultaneously exert their own pressure. I am unable to understand how this gigantic task can be accomplished in one year. I wish that the policy-makers should try to tidy up the implementation process instead of making such ambitious, unrealistic, and misleading claims. This can happen only if we have an effective accountability system in place.

Q. We know you as a prolific writer on education in English language. Your recent book Adhe Adhoore Khwab has surprised us on two counts; it is written in the Urdu language and you chose the genre of novel to discuss the critical educational issues. What made you write this novel in Urdu? What is the early response to this novel?

A. Well, I have always been writing in the English language but I also had this feeling that I can reach more people by using Urdu. I also thought to use the genre of novel to communicate my educational beliefs in a more engaging manner. The protagonist of the novel is a university professor. The novel deals with the themes of education, equality, justice and freedom. The movement for the restoration of judiciary acts as a backdrop to this novel. It is perhaps the first literary work that came out of the memorable civil society movement. The response is overwhelming. It is even beyond my expectations.

Q. How do you view the role of teacher education in Pakistan? What are the major challenges and what would you suggest to overcome those challenges?

A. If we talk of education and the different commonplaces of the curriculum, i.e., teacher, students, teaching materials, school milieu, etc., I consider the teacher as the main actor who interacts with the other components of the curriculum and is consciously or unconsciously involved in the construction of the curriculum in the classroom on a daily basis.

If we want to improve the quality of education, we need to empower our teacher financially, socially, and academically. Teacher education programmes can play a vital role in empowering the teacher but unfortunately most such programmes are ineffective for their extra emphasis on teaching strategies and undermining the change at the conceptual and attitudinal level.

Generally the contents are obsolete, the pedagogies transmission-based and the assessment memory driven. Such teacher education programmes may produce technicians but not the reflective practitioner, which is the need of the day. There are, however, a few exceptions, e.g., the Institute for Educational Development of the Aga Khan University whose efforts must be appreciated and acknowledged.