By: Tehmina Qureshi
Karachi: Around 700 ‘Teachers Without Frontiers’ will be taking the benefits of knowledge available on the internet to their classrooms and blend virtual instruction with face-to-face teaching in seven districts of the country.
A brainchild of the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi, the self-perpetuating ‘movement’, as the pioneers of the project like to call it, Teachers Without Frontiers (TWF) will initially take 700 teachers under its wing in Korangi, Sukkur, Lasbella, Bahawalpur, Kasur and Swat districts and teach them to use the internet for their benefit and blend it with the traditional mode of instruction in their classrooms.
For this purpose, the Idara has teamed up with a Pakistani E-learning firm, 3iLogic, to develop learningchowk.pk, a portal with resource material and online activities for developing and sharing of professional knowledge and skills by teachers. They can also use a number of activities on the e-learning portal, such as trivia games, to teach kids without actually making them sit in a boring classroom.
Not only all the information is available in English and Urdu, it has also been translated into each of the four regional languages for the benefit of teachers and students in remote areas.
According to Muhammad Amir, the programme manager, the core group of TWF comprises 30 instructors who will provide training to the 700 teachers.
“The teachers will be from both public and private schools,” he said. “Government teachers do get opportunities but the ones in small private schools are ignored by everyone. While we lament the lack of professionalism, we have to give teachers from both sectors equal opportunities.”
Amir said advertisements had been placed in newspapers to invite applications. “This way we can make sure that only motivated teachers apply to the programme. We will charge a nominal fee for training just so the participants own it and make the opportunity worth their while. But we haven’t decided on the amount yet,” he said.
After the first phase of training is over, only 100 out of the 700 teachers in seven districts will be selected to become TWF fellows who will then train and instruct a 100 teachers each, in their districts.
Amir said the latter part of the programme was what made the initiative and investment worthwhile because it would ensure that the process does not stop once the funding and project is wrapped up.
To help the teachers have a physical space to plan, work, learn or network, the Idara with the help of their eight-year-old partner Dubai Cares, will establish a teachers’ resource centre in each of the district where TWF will be working.
Amir said the resource centre will have a library, a conference room and also computers and internet for the teachers, especially the ones in remote areas. He said it will be open round the clock and the Idara staff will be present to provide any sort of assistance if required.
Asked if the centres will be handed over to the government for management, he said district administrations had been taken on board to provide them space but the management of resource centres will be totally managed by the Idara staff themselves. “We don’t want it to be a nine to five help centre, which will work only if the staff is available. We’d rather run it ourselves,” he remarked.
Baela Raza Jamil, Idara’s programme director, said the initiative aimed to augment the approach of teachers while enhancing their skills and knowledge by increasing their opportunities for learning.
She said it was crucial to TWF that the communities owned it and perpetuated it for their own use and benefit.