Teachers as leaders: A forgotten commitement

by: Qamar Abbas

December 9, 2014

The Right to Education chapter held a successful session regarding ‘Teacher’s Quality and its Impact on Learning’ in the Teacher’s Literature Festival commemorated on 27th November 2014. The session emphasized how significant it is that our teachers have more than just a degree upholding an academic qualification as proof that they can responsibly lead a generation to enlightenment. There is more to imparting education that being a gold medalist yourself. Imparting education involves personal attention, undying wisdom, effective communication, and a sense of accountability. RTE took it upon itself to inform teachers that their job isn’t confined to a forty-five minute lesson that starts and ends with a clang, it transcends all the way into a child’s life and his or her subsequent skill set that he or she can brandish for the rest of his or her life.

Our esteemed panelists Jamil Najam, Ismat Riaz, and Iftikhar Mubarak assembled under the TLF flag in a gathering moderated by Baela Raza Jamil to talk about these ever pressing issues. Each of them spoke of how important it is to develop a proper two-way relationship between teachers and students. They highlighted the magnitude of each of the characteristics that make an ideal teacher. A teacher ought to a perfect role model for the students, as opposed to just someone who recites a lesson and heads straight out. A teacher’s quality is augmented only when he or she is willing to go all the way and really understand where a student is coming from.

Teacher quality is characterized as academic qualifications, experience, and vocational training. There is a dire lack of quality teachers in the public sector, thereby creating a massive divide in the level of education administered in different sectors. Jamil Najam stressed on the unfortunate incompetence of government school teachers: his vast experience had seen not many educators with the right mix of general knowledge and scholastic achievement. Most teachers have a lot to offer, it seems, on their resumes, their degrees and accolades shine bright if looked at purely in theory. However, we must have an education system whereby the practicality of a teacher’s abilities is scrutinized in a classroom. A teacher must be armed with intellectual arsenal and should have valuable communiqué. A teacher who has impressive degrees is of absolutely no use, if that teacher has no means to convey a message straight to a student’s heart.

This point was taken forward by Ismat Riaz, who further analyzed how much Pakistan needs to appreciate its grass root level knowledge. We are so focused on the academic curriculum that we lose sight of all other skills that need to be inculcated within a student. In this horse race that we have turned our education system into, we rob the students of all peripheral vision and place vision obscuring blinkers on them, so that they may pass a test even if they never get through life. Iftikhar Mubarak agreed and drove this discussion home by pointing out that instead of finding faults in the way teachers are trained and managed, we must change the system from its very roots. In other words, there is no gain in reprimanding a teacher when the teacher is merely doing what has always been part of the system. We must revolutionize the education industry in Pakistan altogether: instead of encouraging students to rote learn their way through the course of their academic life we must value creativity, imagination, and independent thinking. Only then can we hold teachers responsible for sticking to an inflexible way of teaching.

These are all standards that RTE has upheld and inserted into the Pakistani constitution with the passage of time. Baela Raza Jamil, the founder of ITA, addressed these issues with much zeal and advocated all these thoughts shared by our panelists: she underlined the weight of this responsibility that each and every single one of us must bear on our shoulders. It does not matter what type of a background we come from as long as we are committed to enhancing education in Pakistan and changing the lives of many generations to come. And this dream can only be realized into a reality if we train our teachers to become beacons of everlasting light for our nation’s students instead of mere authority figures who affix themselves to a lesson plan, stay strapped within a box of dogma, and get each class out of the way. We must cultivate the seed of self-actualization within our students today, so that they can grow into a conscientious populace tomorrow.