Review of DFID and USAID initiatives for the development of teacher education in Pakistan

November 2020

Source: Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 50:8, 1210-1221

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This paper undertakes a critical review and analysis of the recent developments in teacher education in Pakistan to situate these models being adopted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab against international development in teacher education and political economy dynamics of teacher education in Pakistan with regard to teacher education as well as the wider domains within which teacher education functions.
The framework used in this paper to review teacher education models in the country has several dimensions including:
a) difficulty to attract teachers and teacher shortages;
b) proliferation of the private sector in education provision that largely remains ungoverned;
c) expectation that academic preparation of teachers will be provided by the teacher education sector;
d) challenges in implementing the centrally driven reform in specific contextual challenges; and
e) national reforms are driven by the agenda of the international development partners.
The earlier sections of this paper seek to highlight three interrelated aspects of teacher education provision.
The first is the move towards the professionalisation of the teaching cadre.
With the move towards professionalisation, there is the issue of teacher cadre standards and a quality control aspect that is in effect provided by the regulatory bodies within a devolved regime.
The third is the issue of underwriting quality or the issue of the resource implications for promoting teacher education that is fit for the purpose.
In the case of Pakistan more generally, a country of some 200 million people with nearly 2 million teachers and KP more specifically, the issue of providing teachers for schools remains fraught with underfunding of the education sector that receives nationally less than 2% of GDP.
This is a paltry sum compared to the best performing systems internationally and deemed insufficient to obtain the level of quality sought.
If teacher education is considered to be central to reforms in education more broadly based on that professionalisation of this cadre, the question asked by Zeichner (1993, 2003) and Wood (2013) remain pertinent: who is to underwrite the development of the cadre of teachers fit for the purpose and suitable for fulfilling the vision and aspirations of the country, and at what costs.
It appears that this question is being debated, in practice, in KP.
Furthermore, the model promoted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the British Department for International Development (DFID) and supported by Pakistan’s the Higher Education Commission (HEC), is being challenged for the professional and societal outcomes that do not seem to be desirable in that context.
Besides being incoherent with no further follow-up or continuous professional development (CPD), the AED and BEd also limit the numbers of teachers required, make the cost of teacher training prohibitive, and tilt the balance of the prospective candidate to be representative of the private sector at the expense of the private sector.
The question thus is: can Pakistan afford the model, not merely from a financial perspective but from its societal impact that seems to be further exacerbating the inequalities between the private and public sector school systems?
This paper critiques the basic assumption behind the recent policy reforms that spending more years in teacher education programme results in better-prepared teachers.
Also, keeping prospective teachers longer in the initial teachers’ education programme is not viable in the country where a large number of teachers are required immediately to fulfil the educational need of millions of children.
The stringent criteria of having a teacher education degree of longer duration do not make much sense, as the growing private sector accommodates teachers without any formal teacher education qualification.
The argument is teacher education can draw on an inclusive on-the-job teacher education model where the school systems or District Education Departments and teacher education institutes develop explicit goals, principles, structures, and philosophy and pedagogy necessary for developing teachers’ practical knowledge for transformation of a novice teacher eventually into a competent practitioner (Halai and Durrani 2016, 6).
In this model, the school systems or Education Departments plays a major role in the selection of candidates with a strong academic background for teaching positions and then becomes a partner with teacher education institutes in the endeavour to develop them into fully qualified teachers. Without the support of schools to provide a field of knowledge generation and application, and in the absence of suitable avenues for collaboration among teachers, reform in teacher education is hard to achieve.
The paper’s central thesis is that despite overwhelming trends, of which Pakistan is possibly a willing or unwitting recipient, there are clear indications that the purported international standardisation of teacher education models and practices are being considered critically and refrain is that more contextualisation is required.
The paper recommends areas of further research and study to consider developments such as the KP model to support the iterative development of the model with an evidence-based approach.
This can then better inform teacher education policies and practices on one hand, and on the other hand, it can focus on the desired teacher development outcomes within the context of a developing country and educational milieu that is particular to Pakistan, as would be the case with a host of national educational systems with their histories and particularities.

Halai, A., and N. Durrani. 2016. “Teacher Governance Factors and Social Cohesion: Insights from Pakistan.” Education as Change 20 (3): 57–75.
Wood, G. D. 2013. Architects and Contractors: Political Economy Analysis of Policy Research in Pakistan. University of Bath.
Zeichner, K. M. 1993. “Educating Teachers for Cultural Diversity.” National Centre for Research on Teacher Learning Special Report.
Zeichner, K. M. 2003. “The Adequacies and Inadequacies of Three Current Strategies to Recruit, Prepare and Retain the Best Teachers for All Students.” Teachers College Record 105 (3): 490–519.

Updated: Dec. 14, 2020


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