Can there really be a ‘Revolution’ with No Teachers?

Can there really be a ‘Revolution’ with No Teachers?

Can there really be a ‘Revolution’ with No Teachers?

Claims from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government indicate a “revolution” in the province’s education sector, but there are no computer teachers in government schools from grade five to eight, despite there being an option in these schools for a computer science course.

A compulsory computer science course was introduced for elementary classes in 2010, but the post of computer teacher for middle schools has yet to be created. According to research, based on visits to government schools in different parts of the Abbottabad district, The Express Tribune found that teachers from other departments in government schools -- from Arabic to physical education -- have been ‘teaching’ computer science in the absence of a specialized teacher for the course.

Ten mandatory subjects are taught for elementary classes but there are only seven sanctioned teaching staff positions. These posts include a secondary school teacher, who also acts as headmaster or headmistress of the school, as well as science, arts, drawing, Arabic, theology and P.E. teachers.

The post of information technology teachers (CI-ITs) is non-existent for middle schools, so people recruited for this role are performing their duties in high schools, where management of the school assigns them computer related tasks, including maintaining online attendance, updating online census form and making online action management plans.

Some students said they found computer science class “boring”, while others say they enjoy this class because it gives them an hour to relax or enjoy playing. They say teachers who come to supply these lessons are oftentimes unprepared. Without lesson plans, they mostly read straight from the textbook. Instead of engaging in the class, students find other ways to pass the time, including playing games.

During The Express Tribune’s visit, a teacher in an administrative position, who asked to remain anonymous, stated that government schools across the province are facing a shortage of specialized teachers, especially for computer science positions.

She also spoke about how she laments the state of affairs in schools, where posts for required teachers often remain vacant for a long time. She said there are no certified teachers available due to a staff shortage so three teachers have been managing the entire school.

“Under such circumstances only the students suffer,” she said.

Professor Salahuddin Ayubi, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Higher Education Department Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, who designed the computer science curriculum for the province said such courses require a specialized instructor to be taught effectively. He said that teachers from other backgrounds are unfamiliar with information technology, which can make it difficult for them to teach. “If teachers are not familiar with use of Microsoft Office and basics of internet it is almost impossible for them to educate the students,” Ayubi said.

Ayubi said the curriculum was created in 2007 and has been reviewed twice. Computer Science was an optional subject from 2006 to 2010, and when the syllabus mostly covered the history of computers. Now, he said, it is a compulsory subject for elementary classes, so obsolete topics have been removed. He said the Single National Curriculum, instituted in KP last month, will be helpful in this regard, and will be in place from the 2022-2023 academic year onward.

Ayubi said in today’s highly technological world, computers provides insight into other subjects and how they can be presented using computers, which is why grades six, seven and eight are emphasizing the subject. Further chapters cover methods to prevent viruses on computers and other helpful information. Ayubi emphasizes the need for specialized teachers for these subjects. “Being an educationist myself, I find a major difference in teaching computer science as this subject requires active learning from the expert or professional teacher instead of conventional rote learning from ordinary teacher of different backgrounds,” he said.

Meanwhile, the special secretary of the KP Elementary Education Department, Amer Afaq, has discussed the promotion of information technology is the need of the hour, something the incumbent government is focused on. He said they have created a strategy to set up computer laboratories in government schools and also plan on hiring IT teachers so that information technology would be made available in all schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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