Can state-run schools be improved?

By Karim Mohammad Khan
School improvement is not a complex phenomenon rather it needs some important steps to be taken in terms of teachers recruitments, ongoing professional development and providing a proper system that ensures conducive learning environment in the school. Several studies of the top school system in the world suggests that they focus three things in making their school system effective such as getting the right people to become teachers; developing them into effective instructors and putting in place the system and ongoing support to ensure every child is able to benefit from excellent instruction. This article sheds lights on the current public sector education system while analyzing the suggested key steps to address the prevailing deficiencies and inefficiencies in the system.
studentsAs for as teachers’ recruitment, postings and promotion processes in concerned, situation looks dismal owing to multiple reasons such as interruptions by politicians and influential figures by setting aside polices and rules and violating merits in this crucial phase as it has been reported in print media several times. While education policies and codes are no doubt comprehensive and fair documents regarding recruitment and promotion processes but executions of the policies in its true spirit on ground were always remained a dream not reality. To get the policies and codes applied, external involvement must be checked and right people should be selected through rigorous test and interview process based on merit and performance. And teachers’ promotions have also to be furnished both on merit-cum experience basis.
Next, most of the teachers in government schools are not up to the mark and facing challenges in terms of pedagogy and subject matter knowledge as majority of them are deprived of professional development opportunities. In addition, medium of instruction in most of the schools is in English while teachers are from Urdu medium background as a result students are paying the prize by showing poor learning outcomes repeatedly in annual examinations. Hence, they are direly in need of trainings to be well versed in complex terminologies and re-conceptualize the content in order to make it comprehend for the children and it is well said that if you don’t feed teachers they will eat children.
Therefore, a comprehensive mechanism of ongoing professional development opportunities be provided and there are multiple ways of being professionally developed through school-based and centered based workshops, seminars and reading of books and research articles, mentoring, counseling, action researches, peer teaching, professional discourse and debates, team teaching and feedback and many more approaches have to be carried out to develop novice and less experienced teachers. So, that they could better understand the dynamics of classroom practices i.e educational psychology, curriculum, instructions, assessment, individual differences and classroom management skills.
Next, to make the whole schools functional and effective, a proper system is needed to be in place but, the system available in government education sector is said to be less effective due to multiple factors like lack of visionary professional leadership at the top position and down to the school headships. Further, lack of budget and at times misuse of the available resources, non availability of check and balance, dearth of monitoring and evaluation, scarcity of reward and punishment mechanism are also adding to the inefficiency of most of the state-run school system.
Nevertheless, school improvement is not a rocket science rather some key steps have already been successfully applied in countries like Singapore, Japan, Finland, South Korea and Hong Kong and these countries are now on the top in school ranking list and such measures can also be contextualized and applied with consistency to develop the public sector education system in Pakistan through deputing visionary and sincere leadership particularly at grass root level as school heads. Further, ongoing monitoring and evaluation protocol be designed in a way that ensure excellent instructions in the class. In addition, provision of resources both financial and materials and its proper utilization; engaging parents and community in the process are also determined. The ultimate purpose of carrying out all these activities in the school is to enhance students’ learning outcomes.
In short, most of the state-run schools are in a dreary situation in terms of teachers’ recruitment process as merit is neglected while appointing teachers. In addition, after inducting into the system novice and incompetent teachers direly in need of enhancing their subject matter knowledge and teaching methods as they face challenges in classroom practices. But the number of professional development institutes are lacking. Nevertheless, these could be improved through placing right people at the right place in order to stream line the aforesaid domains to make the system successful. Last but not least, continuous professional development of teachers through school based workshops, sessions, seminars, provision of libraries and action researches. Financial resources could be pooled together from different sources like grants, NGOs, fund raising and regular budgets and to ensure its proper utilization as well through check and balance mechanism. Finally, ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the processes of all the activities and resources would indeed be instrumental in ensuring effective classroom practices in order to enhance students’ learning outcome which is the ultimate goal of the school.


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