Teachers return to classrooms with innovative teaching methods

Using child friendly methods to make learning more meaningful for children

Fatima Shahryar
Zeenat sits with students in her class
UNICEF/PAKISTAN/Fatima Shahryar

14 March 2019

Gwadar, Pakistan - 14 March 2019: Good teachers are vital to reach education goals for all children and equip them with the right tools to learn and thrive. But to become a good teacher, you first need to acquire specific skills, and hone them.

“I have been a teacher for nine years, but I had never been taught about quality teaching methods and techniques,” says Zeenat, a primary school teacher at the Government Girls Primary School, Komadi Ward, in Balochistan’s Gwadar District.

“When I first started teaching, I did not know how to manage the children in my class, or to help them remember what was being taught. I remember other teachers telling me to keep a stick and bang it on the table to keep children quiet and focused on what I said. In the end, I developed my own techniques, through trial and error, but I always felt that there must be better ways to ensure children learn.”

Gwadar is a port city located along the coastline of Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, and also the one with the least educated population. Less than half of primary school age children are enrolled either in primary education (56 per cent boys and 35 per cent girls), which is far below the national average of 77 per cent (83 per cent boys and 71 per cent girls). Moreover, nearly half of primary schools are managed by one teacher only, which leads to a multi-grade system in which classes are combined and children of different grades are taught simultaneously.

“We have six classes but only five teachers at our school,” says Naseema, the principal at the Government Girls Primary School’s Komadi Ward. “To ensure that no child is deprived of education, we combine grades four and five, and teach them together. Sometimes if a teacher is absent, I combine two more classes and teach them for the day. It is not easy, but we have no choice. We believe that no matter what, children should not miss even a day of learning.”

Zeenat teaches child friendly teaching methods to the school principal
UNICEF/PAKISTAN/Fatima Shahryar
Zeenat shares newly learned child-friendly teaching methods with the principal of Government Girls Primary School, Komadi Ward, Gwadar District, Balochistan.

Teachers play a critical role to help children learn. This role becomes even more critical in an environment which is less enabling for children. This is why teacher training on innovative and child-friendly methods of teaching is so important.

In Balochistan, teachers can attend training activities, but most are one-off events, with little room for follow-up and sustainability.

To fill that gap, UNICEF, together with the Education Department of Balochistan has initiated a ‘Continuous Professional Development’ (CPD) programme. This in-service teacher training, funded by the European Union, is being implemented in 11 districts of the province to build the capacities of primary and middle school teachers.

"The training has dramatically changed the way I teach. I had never interacted with children on a personal level earlier."

Zeenat, primary school teacher

The training programme enhances teachers’ knowledge in key subject such as English, Mathematics and Science, while equipping them with innovative, child-friendly teaching methods, which help make learning more meaningful for children. This not only helps improve teaching standards, but also strengthens school management.

Zeenut conducts an activity with students of grade two
UNICEF/PAKISTAN/Fatima Shahryar
Zeenat, a primary school teacher at Government Girls Primary School, Komadi Ward, Gwadar, conducts an inclusive learning activity with students of grade two in Gwadar District, Balochistan.

“The training has dramatically changed the way I teach,” says teacher Zeenat. “I had never interacted with children on a personal level. I did not know it was important to listen to them and learn about their interests. After the training, I went back to my school and used the new teaching techniques I had learnt. Teaching has become a much more fulfilling experience for me. I can now hear giggles in the class, with children focused and engaged because they enjoy learning.”

Over the past year, about 70 master trainers have attended a 15-day training supported by UNICEF. They will in turn train a total of 3,000 teachers like Zeenat, to the benefit of many more girls and boys in Balochistan.