For improving students’ learning, professional education of teachers is important factor. Therefore, cognizant of the fact developing and underdeveloped countries pay significant attention to improve the practices of teacher education. Also, the countries maintain teacher education institutions for producing capable teachers.
Historically, teacher education in Pakistan starts with the establishment of the country. However, this field has been embracing various challenges such as inconsistent policy, inconsistency in curriculum, low resources, lack of quality teachers, low quality of teaching process, lack of standard, etc. Currently, various public and private institutions are engaged in preparing school teachers. In Pakistan, like many other countries, public institutions are the main source for developing teachers through pre-service and in-service programmes. However, many studies have raised the question on the quality of delivery mechanism of the institutions while forwarding recommendations for improvement.
To improve the condition of teacher education in the country different reforms have been brought. For instance, currently, teacher education in Pakistan is passing through a transition as an innovation has been initiated by the Government of Pakistan with the support of USAID through their Pre-Service Teachers Education Programme (STEP) project. The program aims at improving the quality of teacher education and equalizing it with international standards.
In this regard, a new curriculum has been developed for pre-service programmes such as a two-year Associate Degree in Education (ADE) and a four-year BEd (Hons). Effort has been made to design the curriculum keeping in view the modern educational principle along with the contextual relevancy. The pregame has gradually phase out the previous pre-service and in-service programmes such as Primary Teacher Certificate (PTC), Certificate in Teaching (CT) and the one-year Ed programme. In addition, an effort is being made for the accreditation and standardization of teacher training institutions through this initiative.
The ADE and BEd programme has been initiated in some colleges and will be gradually implemented in remaining colleges throughout the country in the coming years. In addition, to attract the best mind towards the teaching profession a stipend was also offered to student-teachers for providing them financial support but now the scholarship has been drained.
The significance of such educational innovation cannot be overlooked for improvement of teacher education in the country. However, there are areas that need serious considerations for the effectiveness and sustainability of the new reform initiatives. Firstly, the new developed curriculum is based on the modern educational principles. Teachers are provided a course outline with the expectation that they will explore the teaching learning material for classroom instructions. However, it has been that some of the teachers are struggling with identifying teaching resources due to the unavailability of the reference books and lack of Internet facility in their colleges/institutions. This situation has severely affected the teaching-learning process of the newly initiated model. Hence there is a need to provide the reference books and Internet facility to the faculty members in order to make the teaching-learning process smooth. Second, Internet is primary and important sources for searching teaching-learning material. However, it has been observed that some of the faculty members are not literate in computers and Internet. So, they are facing challenges in accessing the teaching-learning resources that are available on the Internet or in soft version. Therefore, it important for the concerned authority to help the faculty members of colleges in acquiring workable computer and Internet skills. Third, the new curriculum demands new teaching strategies such as collaborative, inquiry and activity-based teaching approach. However, a majority of the faculty in the teacher institutions are not oriented with the teaching strategies which the new program demands. Therefore, the professional development of the faculty at teacher training institutions should be given priority along with the curriculum development. Finally, the prospective teachers have been rest assured to appoint them in grade 15 in the time of planning the new curriculum reform, but so for the policy has not been materialized. Therefore, there exist discomfort among the graduates.
These issues need to be addressed in order to sustain and maintain the quality of the new reforms. A vigilant plan and sincere implementation will, of course, be helpful in transforming the teacher education practices in the country.
Summing up, the significance of quality education cannot be overlooked for improving the quality of teaching-learning in the school. Certainly, the new educational initiative will, definitely, lead to improve teacher education practices in Pakistan. However, we need to be mindful on how the sustainably of the program can be endeared for better outcomes.
The writer is an M.Phil. Scholar at The Aga Khan University, Institute for Educational Development, Karachi, Pakistan.