KARACHI: “People wondered if I didn’t have anything better to do with my life than become a teacher,” said Batool Talal, a fresh graduate of the Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE) course from the Teachers Resource Centre (TRC), while reflecting on the lowly status reserved for teachers in Pakistani society.

She was speaking at the passing out of the 10th batch of student-teachers from the TRC-IECE Institute here on Saturday evening where 13 pre- and in-service teachers received their certificates. “This course started a journey of discovery for me and I am proud to be an ECE-certified teacher,” she said, adding that during the course she learnt how important critical thinking was and how important it was to question and back one’s views with reason.

Seema Malik, head of the PECHS Girls’ School and former director of TRC, was the chief guest on the occasion. She also talked about the long and painstaking process of designing the course which has been developed in collaboration with Ryerson College and Sheridon University in Canada. She said that all the teachers at her school, too, had completed the course as part of their training.

Addressing the graduates, she talked about the ‘Power of One’. “Each one of us has the amazing potential to change society and this is especially true in the context of the Early Childhood Education teacher,” she said.

In her presentation shared at the graduation ceremony, Noshin Khan, senior manager of the TRC-IECE, said that “a strong foundation in early childhood results in much better and more effective development later”. She said that “latest research in early childhood development backs what we have been advocating for years at TRC, which is that much of our early childhood experiences shape our learning capacities, our behaviour and our physical and mental health.”

The Teachers’ Resource Centre is a non-profit, non-government organisation that was established in 1986 by a group of educationists in response to the declining standards of education in both government and private sector schools. TRC has been spearheading the promotion of Early Childhood Education in Pakistan since its inception and one of its biggest achievements was the development of the National ECE Curriculum in 2002. The curriculum was the result of a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Education (curriculum wing) and the Teachers’ Resource Centre, under the umbrella of the Education Sector Reforms (ESR) Action Plan 2001-2005. The curriculum focuses on the holistic development of children in the three to five year age group, with special emphasis on active learning and cultural relevance.

The ECE-CP (Early Childhood Education Certificate Programme) that is offered at the TRC-IECE is an early years’ education programme, is committed to developing and supporting early childhood professional teachers. It is an affordable programme for teachers, it was explained.

TRC Director Ambreena Ahmed talked about the 10-month academically rigorous IECE programme, that is flexible in its approach. She referred to the 10th year of the IECE institute as “a milestone year for the institute.”

Published in Dawn, October 5th , 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play