Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.
Improving quality of education is just as important as broadening access to it for Pakistan to reap full demographic dividend of its young population. Inquiry-based learning is an important pillar of the efforts undertaken by Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) and The Citizens Foundation (TCF) to improve quality of education.
Inquiry-based learning is a method developed during the discovery learning movement of the 1960s. It came in response to a perceived failure of more traditional rote learning. Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning, where progress is assessed by how well students develop experimental, analytical and critical thinking skills rather than how many facts they have memorized.
Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) has initiated “La Main a La Pate” – an Inquiry-Based Learning program in Pakistan with the support of the French government. First launched in France in 1996, the program is aimed at renovating and revitalizing the teaching of science in primary schools. In Pakistan, the PSF has organized three workshops to train teachers since the Pakistan launch of “La Main a La Pate” in 2010. The most recent workshop was in December 2011 that was conducted by two French trainers, Michel Ouliac and Patrick Marcel. It was attended by 30 teachers from Islamabad, Kot Addu, Rawalpindi and Karachi, according to a report in The Express Tribune newspaper.
A similar inquiry-based teaching effort has been undertaken by The Citizens Foundation (TCF), a non-profit organization running 730 schools serving over 100,000 students in different parts of Pakistan. It is described in a recent book "Back to Pakistan: A Fifty-Year Journey" by Leslie Noyes Mass. Mass was in US Peace Corp who served as a young volunteer back in 1960s in Pakistan. The well-written book is about her return to Pakistan and her impressions of the country 50 years later. In 2009, Mass found a very different Pakistan: more education for children, a much larger population, and a place not nearly as friendly to the United States as it was when she first went there in 1960s.
Here's how Mass describes inquiry-based methods used at a summer science camp for TCF children at primary and secondary levels:
"Inquiry is a form of active learning where progress is assessed by how well students develop experimental and analytical skills rather than by how much knowledge they possess. In a science curriculum, this means that students are presented with a problem and the teacher guides them to solve it without making the solution explicit. This requires students to work together, to think critically, and to search for solutions based on the evidence rather than the predefined "correct" answer."
Then she goes on to describe the details of the experiments used to teach primary and secondary students.
Both PSF and TCF deserve kudos for promoting inquiry-based methods to encourage more active learning and critical thinking at an early age. These skills are essential to prepare Pakistani youngsters to be capable of facing the challenges of living in a highly competitive world in which the wealth of nations is defined in terms of human capital.
Pasi Sahlberg on why Finland leads the world in education
Intellectual Wealth of Nations
Pakistan Primary Education Crisis
Indian Students' Poor Performance on PISA and TIMSS
Pakistan's Demographic Dividend
India Shining, Bharat Drowning
PISA's Scores 2011
Teaching Facts versus Reasoning
Poor Quality of Education in South Asia
Infections Cause Low IQs in South Asia, Africa?
CNN's Fixing Education in America-Fareed Zakaria
Peepli Live Destroys Western Myths About India
PISA 2009Plus Results Report
Here's a story published in Fast Company about an "Education Revolution" in Pakistan:
TED Fellow, social entrepreneur and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is on a mission to foment Pakistan's education revolution.
The province of Sindh, where Obaid-Chinoy is based, decided less than two months ago to completely revamp public school textbooks, and the government enlisted Obaid-Chinoy to help. "There needs to be an overhaul," Obaid-Chinoy tells Fast Company. "Textbooks are outdated and I've been working with the government on how to encourage critical thinking and move away from rote memorization....It's tough, because the mindset is not there. The teachers are essentially products of the same system. We have to break the culture, which takes a long time."
Sindh's teachers now spend extensive time in professional training with education experts to try and reform the instruction of English, math, and social studies. "We're really making this a movement for education for social change," Obaid-Chinoy says.
"People are excited by it. Everyone's getting into it, rolling up their sleeves. We're trying to bridge the divide between the public and private school systems," which, she says, is at the heart of Pakistan's education challenges. The poorer schools are under-resourced and are often recruiting grounds for young terrorists. By improving the public education system, the less-fortunate children have a better shot at a solid future, away from terrorist groups, and local leaders hope to accomplish improvements by focusing on textbooks and teacher trainings.
"Pakistan also feels it needs to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of education and that was the genesis for the education overhaul," says Obaid-Chinoy. "Terrorism defines us today," but, she says, there was a time when the country was known for its vibrancy and sense of hope.
Obaid-Chinoy is doing her part in other ways to revamp Pakistan's education system. In 2007 she started CitizensArchive.org, the country's first digital archive documenting its oral history with interviews, rare photos, and other online collections. The initiative allows students in schools throughout Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India to better understand Pakistan and its history and Obaid-Chinoy was able to interview several notable figures who have since passed away, such as Deena Mistri, one of the country's first female educators. And students around South Asia are now engaged in learning exchanges with students in Pakistan, to help the countries build bridges.
And throughout her education work, Obaid-Chinoy's medium is often filmmaking. She makes about one film per year and has covered a range of topics from jihadi schools to female victims of acid attacks. Her next film will look at 9/11 through the eyes of different figures, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary this year.
"My mother gave up her dream of becoming a journalist when she got married and I think she always wanted to make sure that her six children pursued their dreams. I have four sisters and all of us work in male-dominated professions in Pakistan." And Obaid-Chinoy now brings that same sense of passion and justice to her work and thanks to her, her country may soon become a bright spot for global-minded education.
Here's an interesting excerpt of a World Bank blog on cell phone use in education in Pakistan:
In Pakistan, some innovative folks are exploring how basic text messaging (SMS) can be used in the education sector to the benefit of people with even very low end mobile phones, leveraging the increasing high teledensities found in communities across the country.
What's happening in Pakistan in this regard? A lot, it turns out, although admittedly only in pockets and at a rather modest scale to date. The country is perhaps not unique in what is being explored (most everything being tried there is being tried in various other places as well), but that doesn't mean it isn't quite interesting. For example:
In February, almost 150 third year students at Asghar Mall College in Rawalapindi (note: 'third year' in this context would be the rough equivalent of the first year at university in, for example, the United States) for whom authorities had mobile phone numbers on file began participating on a voluntary basis in a daily vocabulary quiz exercise delivered by SMS. These young men -- from middle to lower middle class backgrounds -- are sent a simple multiple choice question. Texts are addressed to each student individually, using the equivalent of a 'mail merge' function that will be familiar to anyone who has had to send out 'blast' emails or faxes). They reply via SMS, and then receive an automated response, based on their answer. In this response, their answer is repeated, a notation is made about whether the answer given was correct or not, and the correct answer is incorporated into a sample sentence.
One thing perhaps that is worth mentioning here is that, for some of these students, who have been educated in a system where very large, lecture-based classes are the norm, this may be the first time they have received 'personalized' feedback of any sort from their instructors.
The team in Pakistan is asking all sorts of interesting questions as part of their work. How can the potential impact of each message be maximized, especially given that these messages constitute just one small part of a large stream of messages -- cricket scores, notes from friends and family, jokes, news items, scripture passages and horoscope advice -- that students receive every day? What is best learned or reinforced through such interactions? What are the most effective ways to sequence and scaffold such messages over time?
In the process, much user-related information is being collected, helping to answer some basic questions for which there are not yet good, reliable data:
How many young students have phones?
How many can afford to participate in education-related activities via mobile phone -- and are willing to do so?
(Related to this: Are there ways to subsidize SMS traffic for various populations? And what if people actual respond to the SMS quizzes -- can this sort of thing at scale?)
Vocabulary-building and grammar quizzes are just two potential applications possible as part of this sort of SMS-based interaction; opportunities for quizzes in various academic areas are easily imagined. This could be great for test preparation, for example -- a potentially fertile market for private firms in Pakistan. Indeed, project proponents hope to use this as a way to help to stimulate private sector activity and innovation in this area, especially for young entrepreneurs, given what have turned out to be very low piloting costs.
Here's an Op Ed by HEC Chair Javaid Laghari published in The Express Tribune:
There has been a quiet revolution in the last two years, particularly in improved quality, access and relevance, which are the cornerstones of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Quality is a ‘process’ and cannot be improved overnight by dialling ‘Q’. Quality enhancement cells have been established in 81 universities which will monitor and ‘own’ quality and report to the HEC’s QA (Quality Assurance) division. Six accreditation councils, including in business and computing, have been established, and these will accredit professional programmes. An institutional performance evaluation (IPE) process has begun, and by next year, the universities will be given a scorecard on good governance. For the first time ever, universities and programmes are being ranked as per international standards, and the results will be published by the end of the year. A two-day orientation of newly-appointed vice-chancellors (VCs), facilitated by two British VCs and one American university president, was organised — also for the first time — to inculcate leadership and to improve quality in governing higher educational institutes.
Accessibility to university education among the population is now 7.8 per cent, and not 5.1 per cent as implied by Dr Tahir, and we are well on our way to reaching 10 per cent by 2015 as per the education policy, despite a 10 per cent cut in higher education funding. Pakistan spends 1.7 per cent of its GDP on education, and only six other countries in the world spend less. Of this, 0.22 per cent is spent on higher education and not 0.3 per cent as the article incorrectly states. Under these circumstances, the HEC has done wonders!
What the writer fails to mention is the new emphasis on ‘knowledge exchange’. Ten offices of research, innovation and commercialisation (ORIC) have been established this year, and 20 more are in the pipeline to bridge the gap between university research and industry. With a 30 per cent increase in research publications and PhD dissertations in the last two years, a focus on relevant research and a new programme to establish incubators and technology parks, the Pakistani higher education sector is on its way to become an economic powerhouse in the next two years.
This is the soft and quiet revolution taking place at our universities which is already becoming visible and changing the lives of millions of youth who are the beneficiaries of higher education in Pakistan.
Here's a report on the state of education in Sindh province:
Around 94 per cent of grade III students in Sindh cannot read sentences in English, Urdu or Sindhi after being taught in grade II, according to the Annual Status of Education Report 20ll (ASER) Sindh, which was launched on Monday.
The report highlighted the major differences between children, from five to 16 years, in 17 rural areas of Sindh with that of Karachi district.
For example, the enrolment rate of children, between three to five years, was found to be only 38% in rural Sindh while 69% in Karachi.
In the age group of six to 16 years, only 29% of the children were enrolled in schools in rural areas while in Karachi it was 71%.
Around 25% were not attending school at the right age – six to 10 years, in the rural areas. In Karachi, only five per cent did not attend school. In the 17 districts which were surveyed, around 90% attended government schools, 10% private schools and less than one per cent went to madrassahs. It was just the opposite for Karachi – 27% attended public-sector schools while the majority studied in private schools. Kashmore had the most alarming figures – around 45% children in the district did not go to school.
The report also surveyed the studying habits of children. It revealed that private-school students took more tuitions than those studying in public-sector. Around 18% children in rural Sindh, studying in private schools, took tuitions as compared to only 2.6% who went to government schools. The report also stated that there were more girls in government schools in Karachi (63%) while there were more boys in private schools (52%).
The good news
Not all of the facts in the report were alarming. According to it, Karachi had the highest literacy rate for mothers – 82%, as compared to Lahore and Peshawar.
The educationists present at the launch criticised the government vehemently for its ‘non-serious attitude.’ However, they put forward some recommendations about how to use the information in the ASER report to good use.
Dr Thomas Christie, the director of the Aga Khan University (AKU) Education Baord, said that the report should also have included the number of languages exposed to children and if they were multilingual.
The director of AKU Institutes for Education D4evelopment, Dr Muhammad Memon, said that questions like why were the head teachers not able to do their jobs effectively and why did they get benefits when they did not even go to schools, needed to be answered as well.
He suggested that the process by which the teachers were selected and how they were prepared should also be examined.
Economist and former advisor to the chief minister, Kaiser Bengali, said that he had presented a charter of school reforms to the chief minister but it never made it to the cabinet. He also shared some features of his proposal, saying that there were 49,000 schools in the province while there was a need for only 15,000. “The principals in government schools should have full authority and should take action against teachers who don’t turn up.” Bengali suggested that the teachers should be relived from election duties.
Here's a Daily Times report on a traveling exhibit to promote chemistry learning in Pakistan:
The International Traveling Expo ‘It’s all about Chemistry’ opened at Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) on Wednesday.
Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) in collaboration with the embassy of France in Islamabad and Scientific, Technical, Industrial and Cultural Centre (CCSTI), France has arranged the Expo, prepared by Centre Sciences-France, UNESCO and partners, for providing a first-hand picture of the role of chemistry in daily life to students and general public.
The Expo is aimed at increasing the interest of young people in Chemistry and to generate enthusiasm among students for take chemistry as a subject of their studies.
The expo started its journey in Pakistan from Karachi in January and after travelling through Tandojam, Khairpur, DG Khan, Multan, Lahore, Mansehra, Peshawar and Swat has reached Islamabad from where it would travel to Sibbi and conclude in Quetta.
Study of Chemistry is critical in addressing challenges such as global climate change, in providing sustainable sources of clean water, food energy and in well-being of people.
The science of chemistry and its applications produce medicines, fuels, metals and virtually all other manufactured products.
PSF Chairman Prof Dr Manzoor Soomro inaugurated the 3-day Expo while French Attache for Cooperation Gilles Angles, AIOU Faculty of Sciences Dean Prof Dr Noshad Khan and AIOU Chemistry Department’s Chairperson Prof Dr Naghmana Rashid were also present on this occasion.
The displays of the expo include Black and White Chemistry, Molecules in Action, Nature Returns with a bang, Intelligent Textiles-Dress Intelligently, Dress Usefully, Materials that Heal Automatically, Oil-bases or Water-based paint, Pure air at home, What’s Going on in my saucepan, Town Water or field Water, Experts against Fraud, When Art and Science Meet, Molecular Motors, Bio-fuels for Green Driving and Responsible Farming etc.
Dr Manzoor Soomro highlighted the PSF programmes and activities for promotion of science in the country for mental developmental of the nation and socio-economic development of the country.
He said PSF’s subsidiary organisation Pakistan Museum of Natural History is playing an important role in imparting education on natural sciences through informal means.
He appreciated French embassy for its cooperation to PSF in its different programmes as well as providing opportunity of higher education to students of far flung areas of Pakistan through its scholarships programme...
Here's a story in The Nation of how USAID is helping Pakistani students improve learning and career planning:
Last year, USAID in partnership with the government of Pakistan organised a technology and cultural exchange programme for these bright young Pakistani’s at Wakefield High School in the USA.
The students shared their experiences in the US with Dr Hatfield, director USAID and Siddiq Memon, secretary Sindh Education and Literacy Department. They shared fun stories from the US, and related how their parents and classmates loved to hear about American culture as well as the difference it had made in how they approached their education and future.
Dr Hatfield answered their queries and affirmed the US commitment to improving education and opportunities. “We want to help students in all parts of Pakistan who improved education resources and environment. With the ‘Links to Learning’ programme, we are especially trying to guide and provide exposure to promising young scholars facing choice of college and specialization, and difficult decisions regarding careers.”
USAID has supported 103 students from Sindh, Balochistan, Fata and rural areas around Islamabad to develop computer and learning technology skills, and to experience progressive classroom environments since 2008. They are taking leadership roles and motivating others to learn making innovative use of technology and tapping into a global learning community.
Here's a BBC story on an experiment involving slum children learning to use computers on their own:
(Prof Mitra) has watched the children teach themselves - and others - how to use the machines and gather information.
Professor Mitra's work began (in 1999) when he was working for a software company and decided to embed a computer in the wall of his office in Delhi that was facing a slum.
"The children barely went to school, they didn't know any English, they had never seen a computer before and they didn't know what the internet was."
To his surprise, the children quickly figured out how to use the computers and access the internet.
"I repeated the experiment across India and noticed that children will learn to do what they want to learn to do."
He saw children teaching each other how to use the computer and picking up new skills.
One group in Rajasthan, he said, learnt how to record and play music on the computer within four hours of it arriving in their village.
"At the end of it we concluded that groups of children can learn to use computers on their own irrespective of who or where they are," he said.
His experiments then become more ambitious and more global.
In Cambodia, for example, he left a simple maths game for children to play with.
"No child would play with it inside the classroom. If you leave it on the pavement and all the adults go away then they will show off to one another about what they can do," said Prof Mitra, who now works at Newcastle University in the UK.
He has continued his work in India.
"I wanted to test the limits of this system," he said. "I set myself an impossible target: can Tamil speaking 12-year-olds in south India teach themselves biotechnology in English on their own?"
The researcher gathered 26 children and gave them computers preloaded with information in English.
"I told them: 'there is some very difficult stuff on this computer, I won't be surprised if you don't understand anything'."
Two months later, he returned.
Initially the children said they had not learnt anything, despite the fact that they used the computers everyday.
"Then a 12-year-old girl raised her hand and said 'apart from the fact that improper replication of the DNA contributes to genetic disease - we've understood nothing else'."
Further experiment showed that having a person - known as "the granny figure" - stand behind the children and encourage them raised standards even higher.
Returning to the UK, he fine-tuned his method even further.
He gave groups of four children a computer each and set them a series of GCSE questions.
The groups were allowed to exchange information and swap members.
"The best group solved everything in 20 minutes, the worst in 45 minutes."
To prove that the children were learning, and not just skimming information off the web, he returned two months later and set the same questions. Crucially, this time the children had to answer them on their own with no computer aids.
"The average score when I did it with computers was 76%. When I did it without computers, the average score was 76% - they had near photographic recall."
Professor Mitra has now formalised the lessons from his experiments and has come up with a new concept for schools called SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environments).
These spaces consist of a computer with a bench big enough to let four children sit around the screen.
"It doesn't work if you give them each a computer individually," he said.
For his experiments he has also created a "granny cloud" - 200 volunteer grandmothers who can be called upon to video chat with the kids and provide encouragement..
Here's a PakistanToday story on Pakistan Science Foundation sponsoring enquiry based learning in Pakistan:
The inquiry-based science education (IBSE) is imperative to boost students’ learning process and help them in developing their strong relationship with teachers as learning is a two-way traffic.
Chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) Prof Dr Manzoor H Soomro said this while addressing a teachers training workshop on “Collection, Preservation and Identification of Plant Diversity”, organized by the Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) and PSF, here on Sunday.
Some 70 science teachers from public and private sectors educational institutions of Rawalpindi and Islamabad participated in the workshop organized as a part of its public education program. The workshop was aimed at imparting hands on training to teachers on techniques of plants collection and preservation as well as their identification for setting up herbaria facility in their educational institutions.
Dr Soomro said the PSF was actively engaged in promotion and popularization of science and technology in the country through a number of programmes, including funding for scientific research, Natural Science Linkage, Industry Research and Development, Science Caravans programs and Inquiry-Based Science Education Programme launched in Pakistan with the collaboration of French Embassy (IBSE).
He said under the IBSE Programme, the PSF organizes training workshops for teachers to train them as master trainers on as to how arouse students’ interest in science subject through easy to understand and interesting experiments.
The chief guest said IBSE programme is going on in 30 schools in the country. He advised the teachers to co-relate this workshop with inquiry-based science education system. He said PSF has been invited to share its experiences about IBSE in an International Conference to be held in Helsinki, Finland in the end of May.
The Chairman also urged the teachers to set up plant herbariums in their institutions so that students could easily become able to identify the plants, which are most valuable natural resource on which survival of not only human beings but entire living things depends. He said PSF and PMNH will provide all possible help in this cause as they have experts of plants sciences.
He said to promote science PSF organized International Travelling Expos on Mathematics, Environment and Chemistry in all major cities of Pakistan. Dr. Manzoor Soomro said these expos received a tremendous response from the educational institutions and thousands of students and teachers benefitted from them. The Chairman lauded PMNH efforts to organize this workshop which would not only benefit the participating teachers in their capacity-building in teaching methodologies and consequently benefit students in their educational pursuits and career building. PMNH Director General Dr Syed Azhar Hasan said PMNH is one of the leading institutions actively involved in research in natural resources and public education for their conservation and sustainable use as well as promotion of science through informal means including popular lectures, film shows, training workshops, exhibitions, competitions, seminars and symposia etc.
Later, the participating teachers were taken to the field for plants collection. During technical sessions they were imparted training on their preservation, identification and documentation. The participants were awarded certificates in the closing ceremony.
Here's a piece by Athar Osama in New Strait Times on knowledge economy in Islamic nations:
The World Bank has described the knowledge economy as one in which "organisations and people acquire, create, disseminate, and use knowledge more effectively for greater economic and social development".
However, clarity ends there. The framework put forward by the bank has four dimensions: economic and institutional regime; educated and skilled workforce; efficient innovation system; and information and communications technologies. To assess the status of each dimension, it identifies 148 structural and qualitative variables.
We need a better definition of what knowledge is, and how it can be used, to produce a more accurate index of the knowledge economy in developing countries. For instance, a farmer working in Egypt or Pakistan uses knowledge of land management transferred through generations. Yet this knowledge is hardly captured in modern indices of the knowledge economy.
Although traditional knowledge serves the farmer well, greater access to new science-based information could help if weather patterns or soil quality change due to climate change, for example.
But these intricate details and complex facets of the creation, dissemination, and use of knowledge are difficult to capture and quantify. They receive short shrift when policymakers follow the latest fads in development, such as creating world class universities.
The Islamic World needs to move away from fads and symbolic moves, and make a sustained effort to bring about structural change and introduce new incentives (such as those that will attract better quality teachers) for producing, obtaining and using knowledge in society.
As Rima Khalaf Hunaidi of UNDP rightly notes in the 2003 Arab development report, "There is ... a pressing need for deep-seated reform in the organisational, social and political context of knowledge."
This reform must begin with education at the primary level. In most Islamic countries, the curriculum is too rigid to allow creative thinking, critical inquiry, and free flow of ideas. Students are mostly spoon-fed by an authoritarian figure -- the teacher -- and discouraged from questioning.
Addressing this gap will require experimenting -- fairly rapidly -- with approaches and ideas, to discover what works. Two noteworthy, albeit nascent, experiments to induce creative thinking and critical inquiry at an early age through robotics-based learning tools are happening at National University of Sciences and Technology and a private after-school programme at Robotics Lab in Pakistan.
Only when the Islamic World can produce free-thinking citizens will there be any hope of the emergence of a meaningful knowledge society.
Read more: http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/knowledge-economies-still-elusive-in-islamic-world-1.88646
Here's a description of a recent NPR show on importance of non-cognitive skills for children to succeed:
Ira talks with Paul Tough, author of the new book How Children Succeed, about the traditional ways we measure ability and intelligence in American schools. They talk about the focus on cognitive abilities, conventional "book smarts." They discuss the current emphasis on these kinds of skills in American education, and the emphasis standardized testing, and then turn our attention to a growing body of research that suggests we may be on the verge of a new approach to some of the biggest challenges facing American schools today. Paul Tough discusses how “non-cognitive skills” — qualities like tenacity, resilience, impulse control — are being viewed as increasingly vital in education, and Ira speaks with economist James Heckman, who’s been at the center of this research and this shift.
Doctor Nadine Burke Harris weighs in to discuss studies that show how poverty-related stress can affect brain development, and inhibit the development of non-cognitive skills. We also hear from a teenager named Kewauna Lerma, who talks about her struggles with some of the skills discussed, like restraint and impulse control.
We then turn to the question of what can schools can offer to kids like Kewauna, and whether non-cognitive skills are something that can be taught. Paul discusses research that suggests these kinds of skills can indeed be learned in a classroom, even with young people, like Kewauna, facing especially adverse situations, and also the success of various programs that revolve around early interventions. Ira reports on a mother and daughter in Chicago, Barbara and Aniya McDonald, who have been working with a program designed to help them improve their relationship — and ultimately to put Aniyah in a strong position to learn non-cognitive skills. (38 1/2 minutes)
Here are a couple of excerpts on stories about Lego stores in Pakistan:
1. Express Tribune June 10, 2013:
Lego has finally made its way to Karachi. Originated in Denmark, the toy line consists of colourful interlocking plastic bricks which come in an array of shapes, gears and figures. At the launch of its first store in Pakistan on Friday at The Forum, Lego fans — children and parents — were busy constructing plastic architecture and enjoying a family day out.
The huge turnover reflects two things: there is a die-hard Lego following in Karachi and it clearly appeals to people of all age groups, not just children. Lego bricks are playful and can be assembled in numerous ways — you can construct objects such as vehicles, building and robots, wherever your imagination takes you.
At the launch, the store was abuzz with children as young as three (along with their parents) who were busy deciding which toy to take home. Children above the age of 10 were seen huddled on small tables busy building castles and buildings.
Amongst many parents present, Chheena Chappra, a mother who was seen with her 11-year-old son Habib said, “I have literally grown up playing this game [Lego] and years later, I see my young son being so involved in it. I think I am more excited than my son that Lego has come to Pakistan,” she exclaimed.....The price range starts at Rs500 and can go up to Rs100,000 and above. The colourful boxes were labeled with price tags, which were much more expensive compared to other toys in Pakistan. However, Saleem feels that the price is competitive. “Keeping the Dubai market in view, we have Lego toys at a much cheaper price,” he said..
2. Daily Times Aug 27, 2013:
With only a few months since its first store opening in Karachi, the Danish toy brand LEGO is all set to expand its operations in all major cities in Pakistan.
The giant toy company, which is known all over the world for inspiring children and young people to develop into responsible members of society through fun, learning and high-quality creative play activities, also aims to implement its education programme for local schools across Pakistan.
Bilal Saleem, country head LEGO Pakistan, stated, “Children are our role models. They reinvent the world and themselves in it over and over again, surprising themselves and others in what they can create and do. In Pakistan, there is a great need to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals, especially within education. As we seek to expand our operations in Pakistan, we want to make our contribution by setting up educational institutes across the country. These institutes will deliver teacher-tested, classroom – ready solutions for engaging and inspiring young learners and combine the unique, inspiring qualities of LEGO bricks with subject-specific tools and curricula so classroom teachers can meet key learning objectives.”
Afala ta'qilun (Why don't you reason?), Afala tatafakkarun (Why don't you think?), Afala tadabbarun (Why don't you focus?) are all from the Quran which repeatedly challenges its readers to think, to reason...
Quran also says that if we do not reason(think) are worse than animals. (25:44)
3D printing technology was introduced in Pakistan when Robotics Lab was launched in 2011 in Karachi. It was founded by two friends Afaque Ahmed and Yasin Altaf who had previously worked in Silicon Valley. They bought a 3D printer for the lab as a tool to help children learn science.
In addition to serving children, the Robotics Lab has attracted commercial clients such as Pak Suzuki Motors, architecture firms and college students doing senior projects, according to the Express Tribune newspaper. The founding duo is now looking for ways to expand its audience.“Our goal is to push this science lab to TCF schools, a nationwide school network covering about 150,000 underprivileged students,” says Ahmed. The project, however, is currently pending because of funding constraints. “We have asked them to find some big donor for this purpose. Currently, we train these children only through field trips to our labs.”
The butterfly effect: Helping Pakistan’s children emerge from their cocoon
The human brain is one of nature’s most fascinating and mysterious creations, with its full potential still unknown. And Prof Tony Buzan is on a quest to understand how it works.
Buzan and his team have picked Pakistan as the starting point for their Butterfly Universe Initiative, a global movement for mental literacy that focuses upon ‘learning how to learn’. The project aims to unleash the potential of five million children in the country by 2020 through mind mapping.
“Our goal is to have a mentally literate world, and for that, everyone must think,” explains Buzan, the inventor of the mind mapping method and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2014. History, according to him, has witnessed every developed country being led by critical thinking — and the creativity and energy he sees in Pakistan’s people makes him think it is the perfect place to begin his mission.
“In this digital age, there are manuals for everything but our brains,” says Buzan. “Our vision is simple: learn how to understand your brain.”
There are three things he looks for in the teachers selected for his project: the ability to imagine, the vision to daydream and the passion to educate. “We as a team gave a formula to our master trainers to train teachers, who will further teach students to broaden their mental horizons and see the flip side of the picture.”
Over the course of the project, the teachers will be shown how to open up their minds, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. “The beautiful, vibrant butterfly we see was not always that way — it was a caterpillar that went through the stages of transformation,” Tariq Qureishy, the CEO of Vantage Holding and founder of 100% MAD (Make A Difference), draws a butterfly on a piece of paper to illustrate his point. “Unfortunately, our system never lets our teachers and students evolve beyond the cocoon.”
He hastens to add that the children are not at fault — it is the system and the teachers that share equal responsibility. “Our project is unique because we try to make learning for fun for children and teaching interesting for teachers.”
One thousand trained teachers from four different schooling systems, including The Citizens Foundation and The City School, have already started promoting mind mapping within their schools. “We are targeting 100 schools for a year, where teachers get two hours of training every evening and the students learn through a full-day training programme on Saturdays,” Qureishy shares the plan for the project’s initial phase.
“It is believed that if a butterfly flaps its wings in one place, it can cause a hurricane weeks later in a distant location,” says Qureishy. “The 1,000 butterflies that we have trained have started flapping their wings. It is only a matter of time before the rest of the world joins in.”
US-funded scholars vow to transform education in Pakistan
Twenty-four PhD scholars who received their degrees in the United States with US government’s assistance shared their experiences here at an event yesterday.
Upon graduation, the scholars returned to Pakistan to serve as faculty members at Pakistani universities.
In total, the US government through the US Agency for International Development funded 35 scholars to receive their PhD degrees in education, a US embassy statement said.
Two scholars reflected on their experiences during the event.
In their remarks, the scholars discussed the gap between traditional Pakistani teaching practices and internationally standardized teaching methodologies promoted in their PhD programs.
Both scholars expressed their commitment to using their training to improve the quality of education instruction and curriculum development in Pakistan.
They discussed the value of the “multiplier effect model” where academic leaders unleashed the genius of their students and colleagues.
The event was attended by USAID Pakistan Mission Director John Groarke and representatives from Higher Education Commission.
Groarke encouraged the graduates to think about their futures as educators.
“You have experienced firsthand some of the best teaching and educational resources the world has to offer,” he said.
“I encourage you to use your experiences as a launching pad to create meaningful change that will serve future generations.
The PhD scholarship program is one of several USAID initiatives that strengthen the quality of education and research in Pakistan.
Through the Training for Pakistan project, the USAID has committed $33.
9 million to provide training to Pakistani professionals across sectors, including education.
The program also serves other sectors, including economic growth, agriculture, health, energy, and governance.
Meanwhile yesterday, the USAID and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations hosted a joint event to commemorate the successful completion of a $32 million, USAID-funded Balochistan Agriculture Project that was implemented by the FAO.
The project encompassed agricultural development activities in eight districts of Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.
Speaking at the closeout ceremony in Islamabad, the USAID Pakistan Mission Director John Groarke said, “USAID is very proud of the successful partnership we had in Balochistan with the government, with the local people and with FAO.
We are pleased with the tremendous progress the project made in improving livelihoods of the people in the project areas.
Through this project, the USAID established 826 community organizations, improving incomes for 16,000 households.
The project helped communities and individual farmers increase the production, sale, and revenues from crops and livestock.
The farmers learned about new approaches for farming, better breeds of livestock, better seeds, and more efficient water management techniques.
The project helped establish and train community organizations, farmers’ marketing collectives and mutual marketing organizations in grading, packaging, and helped them find better paying markets.
The project also increased the participation of women in income-earning activities, supported improvement in provincial agricultural policies and the legal and regulatory framework for market-led and community-driven investments.
Pakistan: The Invisible Sophistication by Kim Langren CEO of Spirit of Math schools in Canada
Out of the midst of the busy crowded room a small child placed herself directly in front of me, and with outmost confidence and determination she said “Miss I would like to show you what I can do with a SMART Board. Could you please come and see my display?” She then led me through the multitude of people to the back of the very large conference room where an interactive SMART Board resided.
Once there, she stood up straight and proudly explained what a person could do with the pictures on the board. This girl was no more than 5 or 6 years old, yet she spoke with a confidence, and a belief in herself, and in what she was doing, that is rarely found in adults, yet representative of the people of Pakistan wherever I travelled.
This was my second visit to Pakistan. I had arrived in Lahore the night before and I was immersed in a science and technology showcase in the Schools of Tomorrow conference organised by Beaconhouse. The show was an example of the innovation in education, and that spirit of innovation was replicated in every school system I visited.
This drive to do the best and to be at the forefront of educational ideas, whether or not it included technology, was central to the thinking throughout all the systems.
People are open to ideas, prepared to justify theirs and ready to change if needed. In fact, I would venture to state that these schools are ahead of the western schools in many of their ideas. Regardless of the socioeconomic status, or the job of a person, what came across was a very proud nation of people who are willing to work hard, aggressively striving to be the best in the world and to do what it takes.
As a foreigner from Canada, what struck me right away when landing was the intense dichotomy between a pioneering educated world and an innovative traditional world. The intense security, the helpful people, the incredible restaurants, food and fashion, the diversity of transportation from the use of donkeys and motorcycles, to the most recent luxury cars, the massive number of small retail businesses, the outdoor vendors, the contrast of extremely large homes to small hovels all illustrate this dichotomy.
To the newcomer, there is an appearance of chaos. However, once you integrate within the culture, talk to people, start to do business and take some time to watch how the world works, it is clear that there is an invisible sophistication that is weaving all this together. The complexity of the educated to the non-educated, the various robust cultures, the economic diversities, and the strong family dynamics are all working together in a very open manner.
In North America, where it is considered to be an advanced, sophisticated world, we have massive socioeconomic, educational and cultural diversities. Our sophistication is visible; our unsophistication is invisible. Every nation has a cluster of sophistication: enabling it to be visible helps people understand it and therefore strengthen it.
There is an intensive and massive growth happening at this time in Pakistan. There is a sophistication that can be maintained and there are also concerns including the lack of proper education for all people.
From my point of view, what Pakistan focuses on right now will have a profound effect on where it will end up. It is at a turning point.
Ensuring the entire population is well educated, having the ability to research, question and understand more will form the foundation for a nation of strong skills and values. The confidence and belief found in Pakistanis, as illustrated by the little girl in the conference, will lead the way to illuminate Pakistan’s rich sophisticated skills and culture.
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > PAKISTAN > SINDH
Technology comes alive for Karachiites at DIY City
Exhibitions and activities related to tradition, culture, science and technology came alive when the DIY City, Karachi – Manchester Nano Festival opened on Sunday evening in Rambagh Quarter. Organised by Numaish- Karachi and MadLab, in collaboration with the British Council Pakistan, Habib University and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, the event was held at the Sobhraj Chetumal Terrace (Purdah Bagh), behind the National Museum of Pakistan.
In another very basic but useful activity, seven-year-old Ivan Ahmed Ali and others gathered around the stall were taught how to light an LED using a battery by trainer Zaheer Abbas. Ivan helpfully suggested connecting the larger section of the LED with the positive end of the battery and the smaller one with the negative side to complete the circuit, which eventually lit the LED.
“Although it’s a very primary activity, but through it and activities like it we can learn how to make complex things,” explained Abbas while tutoring those interested in learning how to make a small electronic gadget using simple techniques.
Another interesting project was the ‘Saya [shade]: Tag- a-Tree Project’. Noor Zafar and Summaiya Zaidi, from the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan, while explaining the features of their project remarked that it is about documenting and preserving environmental heritage.
“It’s only when it has been hacked away for private interest that we notice its absence. Indeed, Karachi’s green cover has shrunk to an alarming 3%,” Zafar told The Express Tribune.
Festival Of Ideas: Building a better world of tomorrow
Another interesting and eye-catching project was the ‘Sheesh Mahal – the Palace of Mirrors’ by students of Habib University. One of the project creators, Saadia Pathan, said that she and her team tried to build a miniature Sheesh Mahal in hopes of transporting visitors to a similar place of ecstatic wonder, allowing them to experience the blinking lights inside a spinning model for hypnotic effect.
“We wanted to put a spin on this historic palatial beauty using the old animation technology of a zoetrope to build a miniature of the engineering and imagination wonder that Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan built for his wife Mumtaz,” explained Pathan.
“These kinds of cultural and extracurricular activities ultimately become a defence against insanity,” said journalist Ghazi Salahuddin.
Rachel Turner from MadLab said that technology is changing so fast and unfortunately we are not keeping up. “You don’t need to be expert to get started,” she encouraged.
Numaish – Karachi’s Saima Zaidi said that this type of cross-border experiment aims to bring together local expertise and cutting-edge creative technology to re-imagine public spaces. “The aim is to encourage social participation and share civic pride,” Zaidi reiterated.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity visit Generations School in SITE Karachi which has gone a long way in incorporating STEM and character building in their curriculum.
Tens of Lego Robotics kits. Students do Mindstorms from class 3 onwards.
Amazing commitment from the founders. Look forward to working with them in the near future.
Entrepreneur learns some pivotal news at the Women in the World L.A. Salon
Meet the newly-minted 2017 Mother of Invention: Lab4U founder Komal Dadlani
Toyota and Women in the World proudly announced Komal Dadlani, the founder of Lab4U, as the 2017 Mother of Invention on Tuesday night at the L.A. Salon. Dadlani, who launched Lab4U four years ago, explained the basic concept behind her invention: To turn smartphones and tablet devices into portable laboratories. Speaking with Stephanie Abrams, the founder of Give Back PR, Dadlani, 28, talked about being born and raised in Chile and studying bio-chemistry. Four years ago, she had no experience in entrepreneurship or raising venture capital, but drawing on her own educational experiences in the sciences, she noticed a “gap” between her lower and higher learning. Dadlani said the lack of experimentation even at the university level made learning harder.
So she set out to change that, and Lab4U was born.
“Initially we thought we were solving a market problem. I moved to the U.S. I thought San Francisco — they have everything they need,” Dadlani said, adding that making learning fun is a key objective. “We have a gap with educators not knowing how to teach STEM. You might measure speed [in] miles per hour, but we should measure life in smiles per hour. We believe if we can bring those smiles to the students and inspire them to study science especially women we can make a difference.”
“We are democratizing science and changing the way science is taught by transforming smartphones and tablets into science instruments,” Dadlani said. She was then presented with a $50,000 grant from Toyota to fuel the next stage of growth for Lab4U. It was an exciting moment for Dadlani. Watch it below
Watch the full panel below, and see Dadlani’s amazing technology in action and how it transforms smartphones and tablets into something far more powerful, that literally puts smiles on students’ faces. It’s actually very cool.
Pakistan will be launching a Rs 3 billion STEM schools project this year, aimed at promoting digital education in the country.
Speaking at an international webinar “Future of (online) education in Pakistan”, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said that the project aimed at bringing STEM schools for grades six, seven, and eight, adding that the project would be the first of its kind in Pakistan.
“This year, we abstracted 464 schools at the federal level from all the provinces that we are turning into a STEM school,” the minister for science and technology said.
Chaudhry said digital education was the only way forward for securing a bright future for the country. “We want to take up about 5,000 government schools. We want to upgrade them as a STEM schools,” he said. “Digital education is the future of Pakistan.”
The webinar was organized by Coded Minds Pakistan, a global iSTEAM and leadership company. Local and international education experts participated in the webinar to discuss the future of online education in Pakistan. According to Chaudhry, his ministry was already working on establishing digital education in the country way before the COVID-19 crisis.
Speaking on the subject, Dr Ahsan Feroz of Pakistan Science Foundation, currently working on the STEM school project, said the project was in the approval stage. “As soon as the budget is approved, we will immediately start working on the project,” he added. Punjab Education Minister Murad Rass said access to internet was a major challenge in promoting online education.
Prime Minister Imran Khan approved on Friday the launching of the STEM education project aimed at promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in 400 higher secondary schools across the country.
In the first phase, the prime minister approved the setting up of special science labs in 40 schools in collaboration with the universities. Subsequently, roughly 100,000 children in 400 schools would have access to education and training in modern sciences.
STEM— science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is the idea of educating students in the four specific disciplines in an interdisciplinary and applied approach instead of teaching them as separate subjects.
Imran gave approval of the project during a meeting to review several new projects of the Science and Technology Ministry. It was attended by Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Adviser on Commerce Razak Dawood, finance secretary, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman and others.
During the meeting, the minister briefed the prime minister about some of the important projects, achievements and future plans of the ministry for the promotion of science and technology in the country.
Chaudhry apprised the prime minister of the progress made so far on the proposed project of establishing a university of modern education in engineering and emerging technologies at the Prime Minister House.
The minister also gave briefing on a project aimed at providing employment to youth and women by setting up clean water supply plants across the country. He also presented a proposed roadmap for increasing the country's potential for the manufacturing of medical devices and a detailed plan to modernise the agriculture sector and increase agricultural production by utilising modern technology.
Appreciating the proposals for the agriculture sector, increasing the country's exports and promoting science and technology in the country, the prime minister said that Pakistan's young generation had immense potential.
A Babar Azam cover drive question appears in Pakistani physics book, PIC goes viral
Here's the question: "Babar Azam has hit a cover drive by given kinetic energy of 150J to the ball by his bat. a) At what speed will the ball go the boundary if the mass of the ball is 120g? b) How much kinetic energy footballer must impart to a football of mass 450g to make it move at this speed?" says the question that has been widely shared on social media platforms."
The picture of this question in the book has gone viral on the internet with some fans even trying to find the answer.
(Picture shows the following kinetic energy = 0.5x mass x velocity squared. 120 grams ball driven with 150 joules energy achieves 50 meters/sec speed)
Science Education in Pakistan to transform as AKU and The Dawood Foundation join hands | The Aga Khan University News
The Dawood Foundation's MagnifiScience Centre (MSC) and Aga Khan University (AKU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in pursuit of their common goal of equitable human advancement by launching projects in teacher training, innovation in science, education, informal learning, healthcare, learning technologies and the environment.
As per the terms of the MOU, both institutions will synergize through knowledge sharing, exchange of students and professionals, provision of trainings, consultations and workshops and implementation of research to foster the development of the youth and advancement of professionals.
“This collaboration will prove to be a great asset for the advancement in science education and environment. Together with AKU, we aim to provide people of our society with platforms where they can learn and prosper" said Syed Fasihuddin Biyabani, Chief Executive Officer of The Dawood Foundation.
Education that fosters problem-solving, creativity, and innovation is known to prepare youth for the fast-changing, increasingly global and technological world. I am grateful to the Dawood Foundation for joining hands with us to achieve excellence in providing such an education." said Dr. Anjum Halai, Vice Provost of Aga Khan University.
Both organisations agreed to designate their institutional representatives to implement programmes through this Memorandum of Understanding over a five-year term, to fulfil their aim of transforming science education in Pakistan.
The MagnifiScience Centre is an inclusive space to provide scientific exposure with hands-on learning experiences to everyone, irrespective of demographics and socio-economic backgrounds.
Post a Comment