Fri. Jun 14th, 2024
Babar Khan

Education is considered the backbone of a nation’s development, growth, and prosperity, therefore developed countries invest heavily in education to equip their citizens with updated knowledge, market-relevant skills, and new horizons/paradigm of thinking to promote wisdom and creativity. Amongst different levels of education, I believe, Primary Educations is an outstandingly essential component and it lays a strong foundation for education, learning, improving positive habits and nurturing thinking patterns in young learners. Several countries established effective and strong primary education schools with outstanding Early Childhood Education approaches. Unfortunately, Pakistan did not pay careful attention to its primary education to sound minds using the extraordinary potential of young children at this age and level. Schools in our country have a lack of resources in terms of teachers, infrastructure, teaching-learning material, school, classroom learning environment, and emerging trends of pedagogy. To an extreme extent, many of our primary schools are in multi-grade settings and many teachers have limited knowledge and skills in multi-grade teaching. As a result, students lack literacy and numeracy skills, as they are not engaged in the active and interactive learning processes where they could develop social skills, cooperative learning approaches and become contributing members in their classrooms, schools, and society at large. Teaching and practising critical thinking skills is out of our imagination at the primary level of our education system. I firmly believe that this is the best level where teachers can promote critical thinking skills and abilities of students, so that they might question themselves at first that why are they in the schools, what are they learning? How the concept/content is relevant to their real-life situation and how teachers and students can connect the classroom with society. By answering these questions at an early stage, students would be able to streamline their focus, understand the purpose of education and learn the meaning of life gradually. Hence, reforming and restructuring Primary Education in Pakistan is inevitable to allow the generation/learners to flourish and unleash their full natural potential to become true intellectuals, scholars, and researchers at later stages of their education and life. If we wish to see a prosperous, developed, and dynamic Pakistan, we have to reform, change and improve our Primary Education, Schools and Classroom. Reflection on teaching at primary classrooms as a student, teacher, educator, and educational reformer, I would suggest mentioned approach for improving, reforming, and restructuring Primary Education in Pakistan that establishes strong, thinking and dynamic minds for this great country. 

Enduring Vision for Primary Education

Organizational and National development must be envisioned and formulated through long-run strategy, that how an organization or a country should look like down the road 20 or 40 years concerning human development, quality of institutions, and international standing. Based on this visualization, strategic plans are developed and in place with relevant human and material resources. Similarly, primary education must be devised thoughtfully to transform our schools and classroom where children have exciting opportunities to learn, interact, create, co-create. Primary education must be an integration of sound early childhood education, and these schools should be equipped with professionally trained and incentivized teachers with research expertise. These experts/ teachers will not just be responsible for classroom teaching but they also will design and conduct research studies on students’ psychology, their learning attitudes, and aptitudes, application of teaching and learning strategies. They should also recommend changes/improvements in primary education and present at provincial, national, and international levels. These recommendations are technically evaluated by educational experts and then formulate revised strategies that are required to integrate into primary level education. These researches, learning, and innovations in primary education must be published through regional, national, and international seminars and conferences so that wider wisdom can be applied and assimilated with local wisdom. The reform must promote curriculum-based teaching rather than textbook-oriented teaching.

Sustained Leadership

Planning of reforms is necessary, but ensuring implementation and sustaining devised reforms with true spirit, is even more important. As a result of the sustained implementation, reforms can be evaluated and decisions on continuation and modifications can be adjusted. One of the key features of supporting such reform is maintaining leadership at the school level. Therefore, leadership roles must be considered while reforming primary education in Pakistan. Under this reform, school leadership must be dynamic, believes in lifelong learning, has a research background, and be highly motivated to implement primary education reform with its true spirit. The primary education reform must incentivize school leadership, to keep them remain focused, result orientated, and make a genuine contribution to schools and classrooms (for me, classrooms matter a lot). Furthermore, the system must ensure that leadership has a clear target, reasonable autonomy, access to relevant resources, and liberty to innovate.

Striving Standards

Primary Education Reform should be locally rooted but aim to compete in the international market. Therefore, the target and standards for this reform must be derived with the perceptive that, how Pakistani primary school students can be prepared for TIMS, PISA, and other international assessment systems so that Pakistani education is recognized. The purpose of introducing these assessments must not promote competition, rather it should be for enabling our schools, teachers, and educational practices to reflect into their grey areas and think about innovation in the teaching and learning process. Countries that excel in education set ambitious, universal, and evident standards for all their students, typically at the national or state/provincial level. The fundamental problem with locally set standards is that they lead to wildly varying expectations of performance and lower achievement overall.

Professional Teachers and School Leaders

Reforms must be leadership-vision-driven, have high standards, and commitment to making a difference. The Primary Education Reform must use a shared approach where all stakeholders, including school teachers and leaders, have an equal role and responsibility to create the vision, mission. Strategic plans, sustainable reform, and the desired outcome can be achieved jointly. Therefore, this reform must be supported by the highest quality of teachers and school leaders who take the pain to think, formulate, finalize and implement the change/improvement initiative to the best of their abilities. It is a universally agreed principle that the quality of education rests on the quality of its teachers. Hence, this reform must embrace policies to attract, prepare, support, reward, retain, and advance high-quality teachers. School leaders focused on results can create the conditions that make effective teaching and learning possible.

Smart Accountability

Accountability of educational change or reform plays a critical role in finding out how the change works for the desired result, therefore, while planning and implementing efficient and clever accountability mechanisms need to be in place. Generally, education systems struggle with the balance between top-down managerial prescription and bottom-up professional judgment. In recent years some systems have shifted more responsibility to the school level as the quality of their teachers and school leaders are becoming better and for the encouragement of innovation. However, in other systems where their performance is weak or more centralized mechanisms to promote more consistent performance, the result is not effectively tracked. Therefore, smart and effective accountability at the schools and classroom level need to be practised. Strong academic, operational and administrative checks need to be in place.

Proficient Use of Resources

Allocation of appropriate resources to implement and sustain any reform is unavoidable, but this does confirm that higher educational expenditures ensure reform implementation and desired outcome. Allocation of relevant resources with effective and active use of these resources as the per set target, objective, and monitoring progress make things happen, and the result is achieved at a gradual pace. Most fundamentally, high-performing systems have relatively equal expenditures across schools, as well as mechanisms to target more resources at the students who need them most.

Student Motivation and Engagement

The primary purpose of reforming primary education in Pakistan is to increase the motivation and engagement of students in the learning process. Schools with a better and interactive teaching and learning environment motivate their students to study with both intrinsic and external incentives. The primary education reform must consider the idea of discovery and self-directed learning. Teachers should be extremely well-trained in this type of education, and they can create a lesson with innovative instructional design, apply project-based learning approaches, and engage students to use their indigenous/local wisdom to explore, understand and explain concepts in the classroom.  Teachers must be aware of and apply a personalized learning approach with students. They must be proficient in technology integration in education and the teaching/learning process.

Finally, I would strongly recommend restricting teachers of primary to the national curriculum that they have to achieve learning outcomes, benchmarks, and standards so that assessment can be designed and practised against standards to evaluate learning evidence as per curriculum guidelines. At the same primary education reform must envisage a robust, evidence and performance-based assessment approach.

By Babar Khan

Mr Babar is an Educational Professional with a hallmark experience in education, particularly in Teacher Education, and contributes to the enhancement of capacity and productivity of the organization, with an excellent set of leadership skills and commitment.

  1. Ustad muhtaram,
    Kaash 18th amendments k bad is formulae per hukumat GB kam krti to peechla 13 provincial setup k salon me hm bht kuch hasil kr chuka hota…. Ap jb bi neechlay level HTs / DDOs ki meetings hoti he to mera brpoor mutaliba hota he, ki hm kisi primary school ko pilot kren, 5 saal bd fr review p le jaen, isi tarah jb tk hamara primary behtr nahi hota, critical thinking approach to door ki bat, hm bachon ko TOTA (parrot) banaty rahen gy…. Regards

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