The provision of education, started in public schools initially as access points, added by the private sector over the course of time has geared up for a tacit competition to attract students by offering better services of education forcing government schools to reimagine the system with soft and hard components.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Department, Peshawar, is the biggest of all departments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. There are 55% of government employees working with it out of them 1,19,000 are teachers. Almost 3.9 million students are enrolled in more than 28000 government institutions in entire province. This year till now 404,099 students have enrolled in KP. As per constitutional provision government schools offer free and compulsory education for the children within 5 to 16 years age bracket.
There are 242 schools wherein 22, 394 students enrolled in boys schools and 8509 students in 105 female schools in district upper Chitral (without including current enrollment). Besides, there are many private schools and colleges (for-profit) do offer services of education in the area.
Public schools have produced a cohort of human capital employed currently in both private and public sector entities. For a couple of years graduates from private sector institutions have also entered into job market. The global trends, national market ways and demands have somehow compelling impact on public education sector to reimagine the nature of its services and priorities to assert its role in educating children.
There are people in our society they value government educational institutions in educating children, and the importance of an institution in an area. The empirical findings posit the parents have better awareness, involvement and departmental oversight has contributed to improve teaching and learning process on the one hand, and the competition of private sector, parental expectations and demands arising from comparison of children being educated in private schools with public sector, on the other.
There is, however, a challenge still persists for the government education departments to reimagine the image of government schools. Those people in job market and society, at large, who have studied, the way they were being treated and taught, and the environment they have lived in during their elementary education appear to have a mindset averse to government schools.
In fact, the past image of the teacher in government school has dramatically changed. A cohort of educated young people from diverse educational backgrounds currently works in government schools. Either they have done their professional education i.e. PTC, CT, B.Ed. M.Ed., or being trained under induction program after recruitment after joining government service. More than 25 thousand school leaders recruited recently have also started working in government schools to improve teaching, strengthening students-centered and activity-based learning in schools.
The physical facilities like school building (rooms), light, washrooms, drinking water, play area, teaching aids and other resources, among others, are available, with few exceptions, in all government schools. As per teacher-students ratio, teachers are working in every government school. So, why does a government school still continue to be in less priority for educating children in Chitral? The biggest challenge remains as to reimagine the government school.
The reimagining project doesn’t depend only on teachers and the department but also on the community as well. What role teachers, education offices and community needed to play may be summed up:
Role of teacher
The teacher in every school as a lodestar lays the foundation of a child and tasked with the reading, writing and basic numeracy skills at primary level schooling, and providing the children with a conducive environment for learning. The mode of traditional methods of teaching and tools to be used in classroom has become outdated instead they adapt with new pedagogical methods and tools. They have to engage children in co-curricular
activities. Outside in community, s/he has a role in making parental engagement effective. Making school’s Parents Teachers Council dedicated to school improvement. The teacher in a school has a potential to invite wider public trust, getting maximum students enrolled, improving teaching and learning process, and bringing noticeable output in necessary skills of learners in school.
The management and supervision is meant to improve soft and hard components in school for better services. The provision of basic requirements and speedy processing of needs arising in any institution requires to be taken seriously. The better facilitation and easing staff in school is directly proportional with effective service delivery. The perception of gap between teaching and management officials needed to be abridged during review meetings and through official communications. Management staff required to encourage co-curricular activities in schools.
Role of community/parents
In fact, as part of a larger community, parents are the key stakeholder. The troika of teacher-students-and-parents’ cooperation, coordination and communication has a significant impact on learning and environment in school. This coordination helps to filter out students’ learning problems and other challenges being faced by children, teachers and the community. Parents Teachers Council (PTC) could make a significant contribution for school improvement, provision of facilities, staff and other resources, and reimaging the school. Parents needed to actively participate in school events, meetings and activities.
The empirical data underlines that the past experience of today’s parents are averse to government school because of traditional methods of teaching, parroting and rote learning, corporal punishment, image of the teacher as a despot, limited resources and staff, and rusted culture. These things in government schools are identified as the problems have transformed. Furnished with basic and necessary resources and qualified teaching staff the government schools couldn’t attract children informs where the problem goes beyond facilities and staff.
The teachers, management and parents (whose children are enrolled in government schools) needed to reimagine the image of government schools and their importance for society in educating children free of cost, enabling system to quality race, and making children prepared for emerging job market demand as reported by WEF.