A Baloch Teacher’s Journey to American Schools
It is believed that teaching is the best profession because it teaches all other professions. I simply love being a teacher.Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the world’s most developed country to explore its people, schools and students. In August 2012, I was one of the lucky teachers from Panjgur, Balochistan, who was selected to participate in the Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program-Pakistan (TEA), which is a two-month long professional development program for English teachers.
This program aims at improving the teaching skills of Pakistani teachers in the United States.
I spent six weeks in Colorado where I was taught how to develop instructional objectives, plan better lessons, design activities to actively engage students, evaluate my own teaching, and many new ways to teach English in my classroom. I also had the opportunity to do a one-week internship at John Evans Middle School with a U.S. partner teacher. Mr. Beard, my partner teacher, provided me with a deep insight into the U.S. educational standards and procedures.
During my internship at John Evans Middle School, I observed many differences between the U.S. schools and the schools in Pakistan in general, and schools in Balochistan, in particular. Some of the differences between the U.S. schools and the schools at home were inspiring and some of them were very frustrating. The U.S. schools, I observed, enjoyed all the basic amenities, including good structure, free education, nice health facilities, computers, smart boards, etc. They also offered additional services such as music classes, good breakfasts and lunches, and multiple extra activities such as parades, sports, and swimming.
The U.S. teachers were more trained and professional than the teachers from Pakistan. They are required to complete a specific degree in education, engage in extensive field experience before receiving their teaching degree, and pass a state exam before they can obtain their teaching license, and a future teaching position. Contrary to that, the teachers in my province are often selected on the basis of political recommendations and nepotism which ultimately contributes to the deterioration of the educational standards in Balochistan.
An inspiring aspect of the U.S. schools was the ethnic and racial diversity found among the students and teachers. I could find students from all over the world enjoying equal rights for education without any difference of caste, creed and religion, which is mostly not found in my the environment where I teach. The schools in my province lack basic facilities that could provide the education that these otherwise talented students deserve. There are no chairs, appropriate schools structures, boards, or even chalks in the schools in my province. Cheating is rampant due to corruption and official mismanagement in the system.
Young people are the backbone of a nation, but our young people are being deprived of the fundamental rights of education. As teachers, we cannot expect support from parents because they are mostly uneducated themselves, victims of the same system that is robbing their children of educational opportunities. Moreover, the courses and syllabuses are so confusing and lengthy which makes it hard for a student to study.
I am aware that we cannot compare ourselves with the United States, but I am very much concerned about the state of education in my province, as standards are getting worse with each passing day. It is imperative that those who are at the helm of affairs pay attention to education in Balochistan so that we can see a book in the hands of every child instead of keeping them away from the wonders of education.
Published in The Baloch Hal on December 2, 2012