Fourteen teacher-trainers from Pakistan who have spent three months studying in the United States are returning home with “action plans” they’ve crafted for carrying out new teaching strategies in their homeland.
The Pakistanis studied at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., in a program organized by the Washington-based Academy for Educational Development and paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The 14 are among the first of about 250 Pakistanis who are expected to come to the United States over the next three years to learn about new teaching methods in the $5 million USAID program.
Last week, the Pakistani educators gave presentations about their action plans. They talked about trying out educational tools that are new to them, such as self- assessment, student activities, small-group learning, rubrics, and evaluation.
Nargis Shaheen, who trains elementary teachers in Quetta, for instance, laid out goals for a workshop in which she would show English teachers how to teach a “story lesson,” and they would practice it. The method involves having students read and summarize a story, then write it with the help of pictures.
The Pakistanis, who are all trainers of English teachers, took one course at George Mason to improve their English, and three education courses, including one on teaching methods, and visited public school classrooms.
The educators said they were impressed with the technology in American schools, something that is barely present in their own government-run schools or teacher-training colleges.
While in the United States, they said, they’ve become convinced that Pakistani students would benefit from more interaction with their teachers rather than just listening to them lecture.
But Munazza Aziz, a teacher-trainer in Islamabad, said she had also observed a downside to the American education system. “In one or two classes, the class control was not good,” she said. “We have overcrowded classrooms, but we have control over the classroom.”