EducationGilgit - Baltistan

AKU-EB launches Middle School Programme, aiming to ‘develop 21st century skills’

Islamabad, August 30, 2015: With an aim to foster an environment which exposes students to experiential learning and prepares them for future work environment, Aga Khan University Examination Board launched its revamped Middle School Programme. A project-based learning approach for students of grades 6 to 8 that provides an opportunity to learn from one’s own experience and acquire the knowledge, skills and values that are fundamental to sustainable success.

During the event, Ghazala Yasmeen, Principal, shared her feedback about Middle School Programme. She said, “Project-based learning has given our students an opportunity to research and explore about topics beyond their course books which has not only increased their knowledge but also enhanced their confidence level. Rather than rote memorization of their lessons, students now focus on logical reasoning, investigation, and critical thinking. The programme also facilitates teachers’ development; the assessment process of projects allows the teachers to assess the academic quality of the student as well as the competencies demonstrated to complete the assigned task,” shared Ghazala Yasmeen, a Principal.

The Programme focuses on developing essential competencies in students, such as critical thinking, communication skills and teamwork – often referred to as 21st century skills – through broad-based interdisciplinary projects.

“We believe that, in order to navigate and thrive in the 21st century world, Pakistan’s education system must inculcate in the students the ability to think out of the box, to be analytical, collaborative, curious, imaginative and innovative. Middle School years mark a critical fork in the road when most students choose their direction in learning. This programme aims to prepare creative thinkers to cope up in a world that is changing rapidly,” said Dr Shehzad Jeeva, Director, Aga Khan University Examination Board.

Atique Hussain,a student from Gilgit who participated in the Middle School Programme spoke excitedly about his experience. “Project-based learning approach provided me an opportunity to collect information practically and learn from experience. For data collection I interviewed several people and read many books, through which I have developed a habit of gathering facts and conducting research. Middle School Programme has also given me a chance to improve and enhance my reading and writing skills, as well as, my speaking skills,” he said.

The desired goal of education globally is the development of learners’ knowledge and skills to prepare them for the future and make them effective members of the society. In practice, most assessments are currently framed as summative, focussing mainly on assessment of knowledge acquisition and are reported as a percentage score or a grade. Assessment of Middle School Projects introduced by AKU Examination Board aims to re-frame the assessment practices by introducing formative assessments that will contribute to the development of the desired knowledge and skills, and will be reported as the competency profile of the learner providing a holistic picture of learners’ achievements.

Appreciating the Programme, the chief guest Dr Mola Dad Shafa, Associate Professor and Head of Professional Development Centre, North (PDCN) said, “Project-based learning approach encourages the students to be active learners, rather than passive recipients of knowledge. They are transformed from rote learners to critical tinkers. This programme gives the students an opportunity to go beyond their text books, knowledge and across disciplines to explore the world of knowledge by using IT and other resources. Middle School Programme has a participative approach where a teacher plays a role of a mentor.”

The event was attended by over 100 educationists including, school principals, teachers and academic coordinators from across Gilgit, Baltistan and Chitral.

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