Online teachers’ training programme misses the mark

Our Correspondent
Thursday, Mar 30, 2023

Islamabad: Teachers of Islamabad’s public sector primary schools have been directed by the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training to enrol themselves in a compulsory training programme launched by business organisation ‘Taleemabad’.

The teachers, who completed some of the training modules, expressed dissatisfaction with the programme saying it isn't designed to help them cater to children from different social backgrounds. According to them, effective teaching in primary schools is a major concern in the country. The teachers told 'The News' that the World Bank had been giving away millions of dollars in the form of loans to the government for improving early education and skills, which was foundational to early learning, but the process was moving on at a snail’s pace. They even claimed that funds often went to waste.

“I attended many training programs and workshops held by the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) in the past but none of them catered to the needs of teachers and educational institutions," insisted a teacher of a G-6 school. She said class sizes were huge but training focused on individual attention, which was not possible. "Training programs designed for teachers are often a waste of time and resources. Actually, there is no role for teachers in the policy-making exercise. Why are the senior or retired teachers involved in the formulation of teachers' training and students' learning programs suit them?"

The teacher said the faculty of ICT educational institutions consisted of experienced educationists and researchers, so policymakers, by working with teachers, could develop policies, which were more effective, equitable, and responsive to the needs of all students.

Another teacher said recently, a tele-school program was launched for students but smartphones were required for it. He said the facility of tele-school might not benefit all children because many didn't have smartphones or similar electronic devices. "Majority of the population leads life below the poverty line, so the tele-school project is not for the majority," he said.

The teacher also said teaching in a digital setting was not good for primary schoolchildren as devices like smartphones and tablets were the sources of distraction for them. He said the classroom environment was the best for learning because in-person classrooms helped improve the communication skills of children besides enabling them to work effectively in a team setting. Another teacher said she had watched some content (videos) of tele-school but found it to be not aligned with the national curriculum.

She said the national curriculum should have been studied thoroughly by the relevant ministry officials before the launch of the tele-school app. "The app was launched in a hurry and without feasibility study by any government organisation," she said. The teachers also insisted that giving away a project to a business organization without following the proper procedure and rules raised eyebrows.