Policy dialogue urges licenses for teachers to improve education
KARACHI: Participants of a policy dialogue organised by the Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development emphasised the need for issuing licenses to teachers so their skills can be certified.
The dialogue was held to raise awareness, gather evidence and make technical recommendations on the possibility of introducing a teaching license in Pakistan. Such certification can serve to enhance teaching quality and, subsequently, students’ learning. A teaching license can also raise the professional status of teachers and open new employment opportunities for them locally as well as abroad.
One of the keynote speakers, Dr Linda Darling-Hammond, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, drew upon the history of the medical profession to highlight the long struggle that it underwent before it arrived at its current state.
Likewise, she felt that teachers’ education should also undergo the same struggle.
“Licensure will benefit teachers as well as teacher education institutions to improve quality,” she said.
“Teacher licensing is desirable in Pakistan to improve teaching standards. However, we need to be mindful of the political economy of teaching licenses,” said Dr Irfan Muzaffar, technical director at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Support Programme, the other keynote speaker at the dialogue.
“The schools of education at universities need to make a concerted effort in this regard.”
The dismal learning outcomes of Pakistani students are visible in the assessments conducted by many local and global agencies. The government’s National Education Assessment System, the citizen-led Annual Status of Education Report and the international Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study show how weak students’ learning outcomes are in Pakistan.
Experts said that students will benefit more from better teachers who have undergone relevant and credible professional development.
“A good teacher is like a good doctor,” said Dr Sajid Ali, an associate professor and director of research and publications at IED.
“A bad doctor despite having access to a well-equipped clinic and medicines cannot treat a patient adequately. Similarly, a bad teacher despite having an excellent curriculum or assessment system cannot transform students into successful learners,” he observed.
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