Without teachers, the schools we support in Central Asia could never fulfill their ultimate purpose: to provide education and literacy for girls and women in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. In many rural areas, some of which are supporting their first schools, finding qualified teachers can be difficult. For the past few years, CAI and our overseas partners have developed and led teacher-training courses for teachers in the remote areas where we work.
These teacher trainings keep rural educators current on national education standards for the required subjects and help them hone skills in classroom management and early childhood development. For many teachers, these trainings are the first time they have been exposed to valuable skills, and they are grateful for the opportunity to help their students learn.
Our most recent teacher training took place in the Astore Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, put on by our partner Central Asia Institute–Gilgit (CAIG). This is the first teacher training in this isolated area, and it brought together teachers from private, public, and community schools. After a few teachers from the area attended another teacher training, they asked that CAI help the many other teachers from the region who couldn’t travel.
Over seven days, 56 teachers became students once again to learn important skills to help their students perform at a national level. The focus of the training was to familiarize teachers with the principles of early childhood development (ECD) and introduce elements of the national standard.
“New teachers juggle an overwhelming number of unfamiliar issues such as classroom management, instruction, curriculum, school culture, and operations,” says CAI-G Director Saidullah Baig. “Professional support is a desired need of every teacher. It develops professionalism and builds their confidence by preparing them to cope with modern techniques of teaching and learning.”
The students split into two tracts, one for the 15 teachers with no prior knowledge of ECD, and the other for the 41 teachers who needed more help with methodology.
The ECD group learned about the stages of childhood development, best practices for engaging learning at each stage, and the importance of establishing a daily routine with a focus on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains (creating, evaluating, analyzing, applying, understanding, and remembering).
“Every topic of discussion was new for me. It was my first day to the session but I learned many things and enjoyed a lot,” said Afsana, one of the course participants. “I will try to know the intelligences of my students and I will try to guide them accordingly. I will go through these six levels of Blooms Taxonomy and will try to improve thinking skills of my students.”
Other teachers focused on learning the national curriculum standards set forth by the Pakistani government. They split into groups to go over the latest requirements for English, science, math, and other subjects their students need to pass national exams.
“This training was a mind changing event for me,” reflects Malika, a teacher from the local Astore Public School. “I was not aware about the National Curriculum Pakistan. Now I came to know that how important this document is for a teacher.”
All the teachers learned new techniques for managing classrooms, how to identify and teach to students with different learning styles, and the importance of lesson planning for each class. They worked in groups and practiced each technique themselves. They learned how to present to each other, try out learning games and songs, and develop exercises with inexpensive materials to help students learn their subjects.
Uzima read in her reflection that, “Before we were focusing on just the three low levels like recognition, knowledge, and implement, and we were thinking that we achieved our goals of teaching. Now I am fully aware that we should let students to think high level by analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.”
Before the training started, all teachers were evaluated on their current knowledge, teaching skills, and ECD experience. The same evaluation at the end of the course revealed all the students improved their knowledge and comprehension scores, most by more than double.
Saidullah is impressed with the teachers’ hard work and dedication throughout the week. Many of the teachers walked through heavy snow and cold temperatures to reach the training. He reiterates the importance of supporting teachers throughout their careers and ensuring they have the latest teaching techniques.
“It provides opportunities to teachers to rethink and reshape their teaching and learning strategies,” he says. “In the context of education, one of the quality indicators is teachers’ professional training and continuous support. This support encourages teachers to refresh their practices through sharing their successes and challenges and bring improvement in the areas where more assistance is required.”
Through hard work, dedication and access to teacher training courses, the teachers CAI support in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan are guiding the next generation of peacemakers and innovators and turning regular buildings, homes and even tents into schools. We’re so proud of the teachers in Astore and the amazing team at CAI-G for putting on this training, and we look forward to more trainings in all the countries we work in and to witnessing the impacts these new teaching techniques will have in the classrooms.
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