Reform school education | Political economics
As I sit down to write this play, we are trying to convince my nephew to take a day off from school. He recently complained that he could never be absent on school days. But today, he insists on leaving despite the bad weather in a smog-ridden Lahore. Today is ‘crazy hair day’ at school and he has a chess class.
Of course, one thing he doesn’t like about school is the daily short break that ends “very quickly.” He announced that he cannot miss school today as it will be a fun play day. I think it can be said that there are two types of learning spaces: boring or uninspiring and engaging and inspiring.
Most of our learning spaces are boring and uninspiring. In our context, when we come across an engaging learning space, we tend to remember it. A few months ago, I had the chance to visit a public school adopted by the Citizen Foundation. The school is not far from the picturesque Dhan Gali in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The TCF uses a rigorous assessment center to hire school principals. It is a one day activity. As the assessment continued, I heard excited voices and laughter in the classroom next to us. During the break from the assessment activities, I couldn’t help myself and asked to sit in the classroom.
This kindergarten class had fifteen children. Their teacher was doing butterfly makeup while asking them to recognize the alphabets they had learned that day. Some of the children were having lunch. Others enthusiastically ran to the windows to see the seasonal migrants from the Neelum Valley arrive in the area. They were fascinated by the clack of horses and the clatter of utensils they could hear as the caravan passed their school.
Their teacher asked them to imitate the sounds and actions of their favorite animals. This was followed by those laughs. Asma Sahar, Area Manager for Rawalpindi, says TCF has now stepped up student development activities to ensure student-centered learning.
Activities like Khair maqdam (welcome session with students), Mera’s time, Aghaaz and JaÃ¯za are carried out daily and help build a pleasant relationship between students and teachers. The emphasis is on creating a learning space that ensures the well-being and happiness of learners.
Harsukh in Lahore is another learning space that uses the creative power of storytelling, performing arts, experiential learning, and simple conversations. This school is a labor of love created by the former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Jawad S Khawaja, his family and friends. It has a non-disciplinary environment where everyone believes that learning is not a one-way process and that it happens best in familiar languages. No wonder Harsukh students enjoy their school hours.
Although I have witnessed some oases of hope in our education system, the overall picture is grim. The past two years have been an unprecedented period in education. In 2021, the schools remained open for only one hundred and twenty-five days. We have a staggering number of out-of-school children. Even those who go to school experience learning poverty.
The current crises disrupting our education system also offer unique opportunities for educators, researchers, parents and policy makers to envision equitable systems that meet the challenges and needs of the 21st century.st Century.
In today’s connected world, children need skills beyond reading and numeracy to navigate the world around them and make them lifelong learners. These skills include, but are not limited to, collaboration, effective communication, critical thinking, creative innovation, and trust.
These skills are crucial for navigating our lives in an increasingly uncertain and unpredictable world. If we are to make up for learning losses, we need unprecedented and creative changes in education systems and governance.
In order to tackle the inequalities that plague our education system, we need to create stimulating learning environments that make all students feel valued. To that end, we need radical changes in our understanding of what constitutes success. By creating meaningful and joyful collaborative learning ecosystems, we can not only improve academic performance, but also promote socio-emotional learning and the well-being of our children.
The enormous challenges facing the world today can only be met by individuals who are engaged, emphatic, grounded, and aware of their surroundings. We owe it to our children to provide them with learning ecosystems that nurture the best of them and make them feel safe.
It is the need of the hour to build a social movement where concerned citizens mobilize to deliberate and develop a shared vision for creative learning spaces. We need to create comfortable, safe and supportive learning environments where our children can converse freely while engaging in carefully curated fun activities that can help them explore and meaningfully engage with their communities as well.
Recent research shows that guided play can stimulate children’s imaginations while improving their physical, cognitive and emotional health. It is proven that children learn best when education is active, engaging, socially interactive and meaningful.
Leaders in public and private education need to prioritize play-based learning. New and creative ways of learning and assessment need to be explored, implemented and scaled up to higher levels. wide. We can not only improve educational outcomes by creating meaningful and joyful collaborative learning ecosystems, but also promote socio-emotional learning and the well-being of our children.
The writer is a professor at the Department of Governance and Global Studies at ITU. She can be contacted at @malyhazs