Building is just the First Step

CAI is known for the schools that we build in the regions in which we work, but when the tools and materials are put away and the final touches are complete, our work is not nearly over. The physical structure is a huge step towards providing an education to the many children who may otherwise not be able to receive one or for those learning in makeshift outdoor classrooms. But without quality teachers, the structure might as well stand empty.

Most of our school projects are based in remote villages where there are few, if any, trained teachers. Here, we help to develop what’s called “community initiated education,” meaning that the community enlists and supports those with teaching potential. CAI in turn hosts teacher trainings to ensure that those stepping into a classroom are well equipped to handle everything from behavior issues and motivational skills to curriculum building and course preparation. Teachers from other non-CAI affiliated outlying schools are also encouraged to attend, supporting our overarching goal of educating girls in remote communities, whether they are CAI-affiliated or not.

A 17-day CAI-sponsored winter teacher training is being held in early January in Gilgit, Pakistan under the guidance of CAI-Gilgit managers Dilshad Begum and Saidullah Baig. In attendance were 74 community sponsored teachers (17 male and 57 female) who traveled from small villages near and far.

“In this 2016 winter session, we had 70 percent community based or volunteer teachers and 30 percent CAI-Gilgit supported teachers,” Dilshad explains. “A new effort and improvement for CAI Gilgit is that we have started supporting in new areas of Gilgit Baltistan, such as the Astore District and Nagar District, and it is our desire to continue our support in these areas and beyond in the future.”

teachers walking to training

Teachers end a two-day walk in winter. Get into a jeep to go to teacher training program. Two-days drive away over winter mountain roads in Gilgit Baltistan.

Dilshad reported that for some, the journey was more arduous than others, including a two-day walk followed by a two-day Jeep ride. Some of the female teachers brought their young children, some stayed with relatives, others in area hotels with food and lodging covered by CAI in order to give them as much time as possible to study.

“Those in the 2016 course and the cluster for Early Childhood Development (ECD) especially are very enthusiastic for learning” says trainer Ghazala Yasmeen. “Every day they are learning new things which they can apply easily in their classroom with some effort.”

These teachers in training are dedicated to say the least, and they are determined to learn the skills needed to make quality education a reality for the children in their respective communities. Some were already working as teachers, either under the guidance of more experienced ones or completely on their own.

Valuable Teacher Training for the Untrained

“I was totally untrained, and it is difficult for me to motivate the students toward the topic and very difficult to understand the psychology of different students,” explains Khanum Zehra, 22, a teacher in the village of Haramosh. “I have learned many things, like how to make a daily routine for an early childhood development class, how to manage a classroom and how to motivate the students. I hope I will learn more, and I will be able to teach my students in a better way.”

teacher trainingThe teacher trainings are designed to specifically address the national curriculum 2006 subject competencies, but they are also customized to suit the needs of these teachers in remote regions with little in the way of books and supplies. Many of the teachers are also faced with children who are not accustomed to a school day routine. Therefore, these types of CAI sponsored trainings are quite different from those in larger cities.

“The CAI Provides High-quality trainings as compared to other NGOs based in Islamabad and other big cities,” explains trainer Hussan Parveen. “The NGOs based in the big cities and Government training institutions are not providing quality trainings; they have established, well-furnished offices, but they outsource the trainings and monitoring to third parties just meet their budgets. They are not focusing on the remote and far-flung areas; they provide trainings to the easy access areas which are already developed.”

Beyond lesson plan training in social studies, math, English and science, other CAI training topics typically include things like tips for setting up a classroom, discipline, teacher/student relationships, classroom management skills, dealing with different levels of intelligence, developing oral communication and listening skills, comprehension, techniques for analyzing topics, the characteristics of a great teacher, and more.

“One session was about low-cost and no-cost materials started with a brainstorming activity and group discussions and presentations about how to reuse the rubbish in teaching and what kind of teaching supplies can be made from used materials,” Dilshad explains. They also worked on writing skills and focused on the Urdu language. “In creative writing, they wrote many interesting essays with the help of a flow chart and they further worked on phonetics, helping a child to read and write through sounds of alphabet.” They even learn about climate change and other topics that affect the modern world.

The group is eager to return to their classrooms to put their new training and knowledge to use, not only to get through the day in a more productive manner, but also to provide for their community’s future.

“From childhood, I was inspired by my own teachers and decided to become a teacher myself,” says Nida Batool, 22, a teacher in the village of Pakora Astore. “Nowadays education matters for everything, like for earnings, for living according to the level of world, to bring a change in the lifestyle of people and to make the people responsible characters of the communities.”

teacher training in gilgit
Facts about the teachers at the CAI-Gilgit teacher training:

  • This was the fourth year of CAI-sponsored teacher trainings in Gilgit
  • Education levels of the teachers in training ranged from BFA to Masters, and some teachers from Broghil have tenth-grade level educations
  • There are four trainers at teacher training; two for methodology for 39 teachers and two for the ECD group of 35 teachers
  • 21 teachers have 1 computer in their offices provided by CAI-Gilgit
  • 30 teachers have proper electricity in their schools
  • No one has Internet access at their school
  • 34 teachers had mobile phones with them, but some of them will not get signals once they are back in their respective villages


Learn more about CAI’s 20 year history in Gilgit-Baltistan. Watch this documentary.

This documentary is A special Tribute to Central Asia Institute & Greg Mortenson on the 20th anniversary of CAI (1996-2016)

Posted by Central Asia Institute Gilgit on Wednesday, February 10, 2016