Learning Pathways performed the role of in-country project partner for the 2013 Pakistani Educational Leadership Project (PELP).
On June 9th,2013 a delegation of 19 female Pakistani educators completed a long journey from Pakistan to the United States, leaving behind family, friends and community in Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab, and Gilgit-Baltistan - places too often in the news.
As participants in the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), funded Pakistani Educational Leadership Project, they engaged in an intensive cross-cultural and educational exchange with U.S. citizens in New England and Washington, D.C. individually and collectively, they exemplified Pakistan’s vibrant – and dedicated - female leadership in the education sector.
The project has been funded by ECA since an inaugural one month institute hosted by Plymouth State University in 2004. Shaped by Pakistan’s reform initiatives, it provided Pakistani educators with the opportunity to explore U.S. innovations in educational leadership for adaptation in Pakistan. In the process they also shared their own remarkable work and build relationships with U.S. citizens.
In federal fiscal year 2007, as a “next step” beyond the one month institute, the project segued to its current configuration. ECA funded a dual-country program, with U.S. and Pakistan components and U.S.-Pakistan administrative team. It consisted of a real-time, collaborative, partnership and ever-expanding global network.
By 2013 the project achieved critical mass, with 238 alumni, over 75% women. They came from every province and Pakistan-administered area. Most worked with marginalized populations in vulnerable rural and urban locales. As a measurable impact of federal assistance, educators report sharing results of institute learning with over 100,000 of their colleagues, community members, and students throughout Pakistan.
Shaped by alumni, the project design included a rigorous, nationwide, merit-based application process for Pakistani educators; an intensive keystone institute in New Hampshire; and follow-on activities in Pakistan to demonstrate outcomes of institute training. Plymouth State University served as platform for the grant funded team and project activities; housed the institute; and contributed cost sharing.
During its U.S. phase, New England served as a dynamic learning landscape. With a rich heritage of democracy in action, reflected in small town Main Streets and diverse cityscapes, the region provided an authentic first-hand experience for Pakistani guests. In 2013 instructors from Dartmouth Medical School, Hillsboro-Deering Middle School, Newfound Memorial Middle School, Plymouth State University, and the University of Southern New Hampshire engaged with Pakistani educators. The guests also met with leadership at the Max Warburg Foundation and Harvard’s South Asia Institute – by coincidence, all women. Fundamental issues in education and society provided common discourse and sometimes surprising outcomes.
In alignment with grant goals, core discussions encompassed a range of topics with pertinence to Pakistan: to enhance, inspire; and to incorporate critical thinking skills. They consisted of pedagogy; assessment and evaluation; conflict resolution; integrated service based learning; environmental ethics; and health literacy.
To frame in-country implementation, each educator was required to develop a Master Action Plan (MAP). For the women, MAPs provided an almost-unique opportunity to free creative spirits grounded in every day realities, and to hone individual visions. Transformative models of leadership for women and girls - tangible, intangible, and often totally unexpected – emerged as a motivating force.
After return of the delegates to Pakistan, sharing experiences with family and community members added to the multiplier effect. As an exciting spin-off of ECA funding, a community of practice also has evolved from the alumni base. At alumni request, the project team served in a consultancy role and as conduit for alumni expertise, deep knowledge of local contexts, and linkages. That collective action constituted a critical “next step” to support - and sustain - effective leadership and educational practices at the grassroots, Pakistan style.
During the inaugural institute in 2004, a participant stood in a 200 year old New Hampshire barn and predicted “that the program would send out a thousand points of light.” By 2013, those seemingly unrealistic expectations have been met. Alumni, family members, colleagues and students represent the names, faces and narratives of Pakistan’s vibrant civil society: a thousand points of light, multiplied.
PELP Alumni Network Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/PELP-Alumni-Network-Pakistan/427592937349570
Learning Pathways has initiated an Ecology programme for 9 and 10 year olds to discover the mini-ecosystems in their immediate environments and develop skills for outdoor inquiries.
For five consecutive Saturdays, twenty fourth graders from Lahore Grammar School, Johar Town have been exploring their “backyard” in the guise of junior ecologists. Facilitated by Dr.Rafia Ali of Learning Pathways, this group of nine year old boys has been systematically developing their abilities to observe and record some of the organisms living in their backyard and identifying the environmental factors that support this life.
First Saturday: Exploring the Study Area
Using clipboards with maps of their study area, children went outside in pairs and recorded areas of high and low moisture, sunlight and cover. They returned to the classroom and through a collective sharing of data and organising their information they begin to see a small “inconsequential” strip of back lawn through the lens of a scientist. In the process they were introduced to the skill of using field maps.
Second Saturday: Introducing Field Journals
Children were explained the importance of field journals – why scientists working in the field use them. Using pre-selected objects – plants and ants - from the study site, three drawing exercises were used to help children become proficient and confident about drawing in the field. Through collective sharing, common criteria for good journal entries were developed along with a template for recording observations especially of critters.
Third Saturday: Discovering Animal Communities
Armed with their observation and recording tools children returned to their study site to look for mini-animals. Children searched for animals in flower beds, inside and under flower pots and used “shake boxes” to collect critters by shaking bushes and tuft of grass. Despite the onset of winter they found an interesting variety of dead and alive critters. They remained in the study site for an hour and half, recorded the location of each animal on their map; drew and described the animals in their field journals. Back in the discussion room they shared their data, the locations of their animals were recorded on the collective study site maps and more questions were raised – about the identity of some of their critters, the source of particular holes in some leaves and were encouraged to do their independent research.
Fourth Saturday: Feedback on their field journal entries and tracking ants
Children’s field journal entries were shared side by side with photographs of their critters. They were encouraged to assess their work and identify which features were included and which were omitted and revisit their recording template. Children then moved on to a structured inquiry: they c were given four types of foods – cat food, mango jam, whole wheat biscuit and coke and asked to find out which food was the most favourite “ant food”. They went to the study site - this time in groups of three or four – attempted to track ant holes and laid out the four types of food to lure the ants. After half an hour they collected the ants on each type of food. They returned to class, counted their ants and recorded their entire experiment. Their data was shared collectively and everyone concluded the food most liked by the ants was mango jam. J This experience introduced children to a fair test, a structure for recording experiments and to a very important feature of science: connecting claims/conclusions to evidence.
Fifth Saturday: Initiating a Field Guide
Children were assigned specific plants from their study site. A template for recording observations in a field guide was shared with them; Children went to the study site in pairs, observed their assigned plants, recorded their findings in their journals returned to class and recorded their data carefully on pages which constituted the first entries of the LGS/JT field guide. Their activity culminated with a presentation of their experiences.
Their science teacher was an observer and co-facilitator throughout this period and had now acquired the tools to continue the journey.
Dr. Rafia Ali has developed and taught a three credit hour course: “Teaching of General Science for Grades K-8” for the B.Ed programme offered by the Virtual University of Pakistan (www.vu.ed.pk) ; VU provides distant and online learning through television broadcasts and the internet.
The goal of the above course is to develop teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge associated with the teaching of general science emphasising inquiry as the vehicle through which scientific knowledge is acquired. The entire course comprises of 45 recorded lectures. The introductory part of the course explores the nature of science replete with demonstrations of scientific skills. The heart of the course are extensive films clips of actual teaching of general science to grades 2, 5 and 8 by the instructor which are deftly interwoven with the instructor’s lectures in the VU studios to elucidate inquiry based teaching and managing challenges encountered in real classrooms.
The school used as a teaching laboratory for the course is Sanjan Nagar High School (www.snpet.org) , a non-elite trust school located in Kot Lakhpat, one of Lahore’s largest industrial areas. The pedagogy explored in the course transcends the teaching of general science such as nurturing critical thinking and communication skills largely absent in our classrooms. The course also challenges a widely held assumption that inquiry based teaching incorporating student centred, hands on learning can only be implemented in affluent private schools.
Opencourse ware link to all the lectures: http://ocw.vu.edu.pk/CourseDetails.aspx?cat=Humanities+Distribution&course=GSC201
In addition, we offer several special programmes:
Learning Pathways is initiating a collaborative project through a partnership with a U.S. affiliate, the Max Warburg Courage Curriculum.
Learning Pathways is introducing the pilot phase in schools in both Pakistan & India, of a curriculum that aims to strengthen the character development and literacy skills of students. The program empowers children to discover, then recognize, the role of courage in the lives of the characters they read about, in the lives of those around them, and in their own lives.
This international partnership is founded on the shared acknowledgement that the universal message of courage connects learning communities (students, teachers, families, and related agencies) and that rigorous educational frameworks and opportunities for leadership development strengthen civil society.
The primary goals of this partnership are:
• To strengthen the literacy and character development skills of participating students
• To provide engaging and relevant professional development for teachers
• To create and support sustainable relationships between educators and learning communities in the United States and their counterparts in South Asia
• To engage students in the universal nature of courage and the power of personal narrative
A working partnership between Learning Pathways and MWCC will:
• Empower Learning Pathways to act as a liaison between MWCC and learning communities in South Asia.
• Empower The Max Warburg Courage Curriculum to share existing curriculum materials for use in country (both in Pakistan and India).
• Engage the two parties in the development of new materials designed to meet the specific needs and requirements of schools in Pakistan and India.
Our Professional Development Workshops for Educators are a consistent reflection of our commitment to inquiry-based learning. In order to integrate inquiry into their curriculum, teachers and school managers must immerse themselves in the inquiry experience.
An important goal of our workshops on science education has been to initiate a reflection on the nature of science. Science constitutes an organised body of knowledge about the natural world and the processes and practices by which this knowledge is established and is continuously extended, refined and revised.
The practices of science which involves observing, investigating, interpreting—the chain of reasoning that connects evidence to claims, assessing the reliability of data, developing plausible explanations and communicating findings—are largely neglected in the classrooms of our schools.
Our workshops enable educators to experience these practices and understand the critical importance of integrating these into the whole learning environment beyond the boundaries of science education.
The integration of the arts into the instructional frameworks of schools also is uncharted territory for many educators. Teachers have discovered that translating music into visual forms such as drawing is a powerful tool in addressing the diverse needs and capacities of learners and in enhancing their creativity. We believe that the creative arts maximize the learning and achievements of children and are a critical component of a multi-dimensional education.
All our workshops exemplify a culture of collaborative learning and the appreciation of diversity.
To organize a customized workshop exclusively for your educational institution, please contact us to discuss options. Contact Us
The Learning Pathways Enrichment Programme offers a learning environment that meets the needs and aspirations of individual learners. Highly skilled teachers work with students in small groups in an after-school programme of directed study. Our objective is to facilitate their learning by helping them develop a fundamental understanding of their subject areas. Multimedia, interactive demonstrations and inquiry based teaching methods are an important component of the work we do together.
Learning Pathways currently offer the following programmes:
PRIMARY (5 TO 7 YEARS) & UPPER PRIMARY (8 TO 10 YEARS)
MIDDLE SCHOOL (10 TO 12 YEARS)
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS (Ordinary & Advanced Levels)
Learning Pathways is conducting a pilot study to evaluate the efficacy of a browser based English Reading Programme for the primary years.
In the Pakistani environment there is a compelling need for English literacy. English is the medium of instruction from 3rd grade onwards in all government schools in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province where approximately 4 million children are enrolled in government primary schools. A 2013 report by the Society for the Advancement of Higher Education (SAHE) indicates that teachers of English in the upper primary years (specifically grade 4) use English only 30 percent of the time while teaching English Language in government schools in the Punjab. However, 70 percent of the parents want their children to learn English in the primary years. They view English literacy as the portal to increased opportunities and therefore a better quality of life.
Hence there is need to use E-learning resources which, one, enable children and teachers to learn English independently and,two,provide teachers with resources and lesson plans to use in their classrooms to consolidate the students’on-line experience.
Learning Pathways is field-testing a reading e-programme in Sanjan Nagar High School — a trust school in Lahore’s industrial area — for a period of two months. Students from first and third grades were selected through a random ballot to participate in the pilot. All teachers from grades 1 to 3 are also enrolled as learners. The learners — students and teachers — were first assessed through the software’s automated placement system and assigned appropriate learning/literacy levels, after which they commenced their online sessions. The students have two 40-minute online sessions scheduled per week and the teachers can log in during their free time, devoting an average of 90 minutes per week to English language learning.
The programme has an in-built assessment /reporting system. After each online session a plan of action for each learner is provided. If the learner is progressing smoothly through each reading level, he or she is expected to complete worksheets reinforcing specific reading skills that the student has mastered. On the other hand if the learner is struggling, then support is provided through lessons delivered in the classroom.
The Learning Pathways team is closely monitoring the learners identifying the strengths of the programme and potential challenges. The children are very excited and look forward to their online sessions. They do need support during the session associating unfamiliar words to pictures of objects or scenes that are not part of their personal experience. Moreover they are not accustomed to listening carefully and interpreting information, so that is a skill they are learning. Most children are progressing through the reading levels smoothly. Some however require support through direct teaching.
Ensuring uninterrupted online connectivity in an underprivileged school for a large group of children plagued with frequent electric power cuts has been challenging. The pilot programme is also providing the platform to seek innovative solutions to upgrading the school’s internet network and to find the requisite financial support.
The Learning Pathways team hopes that based on the lessons learnt from this pilot project they willmove on to develop an after-school literacy programme that integrates English Language Learning with other core subjects using E-resources.