By Z.A. Zulfi (AKU-IED alumni from Chitral)
“Some people say that time in some institution with people or place was the most fruitful time. I would rather rephrase this statement as my life became fruitful after AKU-IED two-year master program’s experience,” commented one of the IED graduates from Chitral who did a master in education from the prestigious teacher training institute of Pakistan, The Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) Karachi .
Tajuddin Sharar, presently working as head of the Education Department in the newly established Chitral University, feels proud of being part of AKU-IED alumni. His professional journey started as a schoolteacher. He did both master and doctoral studies from AKU-IED.
“IED gave me a lens through which I can see the world where a change can be brought through individual efforts,” asserts another IED alumnus.
Another schoolteacher, who also got two-year master degree in education, has also same observation. “For me the life has two parts, one the oblivious part, the dark part, the illusion part the second post IED period, the enlightened path. IED imparted in me the self-respect and dignity as a teacher.”
Some of the personal narratives of teachers mentioned speak volume about the impact of the institution on the lives of individual teacher and institutions.
The year of silver jubilee of Aga Khan University Institute for educational development
(AKU-IED) coincides with the diamond jubilee year of its founder and chancellor, The Aga Khan IV’s, diamond jubilee of his 60th years of Imamat.
Academic institutions especially of those of higher education take hundreds of years to make them claim of being the seat of learning and showing their direct or indirect impact on the societies. Academia are made in centuries. Cambridge University, Oxford and Harvard and many other found their present status only after making efforts of more than a century.
However, in case of the Aga Khan University in Pakistan, it took hardly half a century to make feel its presence in many discipline. One would argue that AKU performance is phenomenal in Pakistan and many other third world countries. Born in 1980s, under the charter of government of Pakistan as a first private university the institution has expanded to many other faculties such as education, health and medicine, and culture and civilization and expectedly faculty of arts and science as well as have shown on the socioeconomic development. AKU has contributed in the research culture in all field of knowledge.
As a private, self-governing and not for profit educational institution in Pakistan, East Africa, UK and Afghanistan, AKU has emerged as a role model for academic and service program in the health and higher education. IED in Tanzania and Pakistan have both played a critical role in the in improving classroom practices and leadership in the field of education through developing a critical mass of human resource in different mountainous region such as Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan in the field of education.
Chitral is one of the districts of KP where AKU-IED has contributed through its multiple teacher education programs. Professional development centres in Gilgit and Chitral are showing their larger impact on improving educational practices in schools. These centres are supervised by Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development Karachi.
Chitral has more than 70 IED graduates including Ph.Ds in the field of education who are serving in different public and private sector institutions. IED has provided a robust academic and professional foundation to have a bright career. Many of the Chitrali teachers are pursuing their Master and doctoral studies in various international universities following co. IED has specially focussed the improvement of teaching learning in the classroom and developing highly professional educational leaders.
IED graduates not only work in education but many of the alumni of IED are affiliated with different organizations of development such as United Nation, Aga Khan Foundation and many others. It has been seen that where there are IED graduates in schools the quality of teaching has definitely improved. In Chitral the impact of AKU-IED can broadly be categorized into the following areas.
Impact on teaching learning
Chitral has hundreds of IED graduates who strive for the best teaching learning experience in the schools. That not only improved the individual performance but the overall performance of the school has improved much. IED graduate are pedagogical leaders. They have negated the commonly used cliché that education improvement cannot be brought about by a single individual.
In order to improve current situation many innovative methodologies such as action research, inquiry teaching, project based learning and critical thinking strategies have been introduced in many schools. In addition, Professional Development Trainers (PDTs) are engaged in the overall school improvement. PDC is working in close coordination with Elementary and Secondary education department in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It provides support to in service teachers through various need based ad tailor made program in its campus in Chitral.
As a part of AKU-IED it never compromise on its standard. Other than regular M.Ed. , M.Phil. and Ph.D. programs IED offers different other course of short durations such Certificate in Education Leadership and Management and educational research and academic writing which are executed by highly professional academic staff in PDC Chitral.
Impact on educational leadership
IED has not only developed class room teachers and teacher educators. Rather many of the educational leaders also work to provide effective leadership in the institutions. Not only that many of the civil society organizations and voluntary set up are led by IED graduates, who provide dynamic leadership to the institutions and communities in the mountainous region of Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral.
Less is more has been the core thought behind the IED intervention. IEd graduate don’t live in the ideal world. They desire to achieve what is possible living with the prevailing situation. I have never seen an IED graduate complaining the shortage of fund or other resource. They content on the available resources of what kind they are. Creating wealth from the waste is one of the achievements by IED graduate. Dearth of Science equipment or financial resources has never been an issue for IEDean.
IED-PDC also has also contributed in terms of its impact on the socio economic development of the district. Many people are employed with the IED as professors and Senior instructor besides many administrative position.
IED stands on the edifice of three philosophical underpinnings i.e. Humanism, Pragmatism and Empiricism along with the sharing and caring, inclusiveness and as a value of Islam. Human experiences, needs and capabilities are highly valued irrespective of the ethnic, geographical and any other background. Irrespective of the philosophies of the past IED only value what work best in the real context. Human experiences have great respect instead of only bookish knowledge.
Instead of only teaching facts IED equip its students with very precious tools of lifelong learning. These tools are problem solving, communication, critical thinking, and research skills. They not only teach the book but also teach how to read. They teach fishing instead of giving only fish.
We hope that the AKU-IED PDC newly purchased property in Chitral will soon start functioning as it is a coveted dream of the many teachers. With the new physical infrastructure PDC will expand it teaching programs throughout the district with more effectiveness.
The 21st century is the knowledge society, as many believe. To strengthen a country education status we need more teacher training institutions of such a calibre. To raise the social status of the teachers it is necessary to provide a strong pedagogical, content and curriculum knowledge. Teaching training model are being changed in Pakistan. We need to create local based knowledge in th field of education. In order to achieve that goal we need to rethink our education in the line of modern global education.
Pulling together the whole write up there is a humble suggestion for IED alumni. Every year AKUIED alumni are reunited at the main campus in Karachi. For the PDTs living in far flung area it become difficult to attend the and share their valuable experiences. Therefore it is suggested that such re union may also be arranged in PDCs in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan to have a easy access for the maximum number of people . Secondly, the IED graduates should have a separate forum at Chitral level. Teacher Networking will provide a forum for teachers their respective institutions.