KARACHI: In a bid to elevate the teaching profession, the Sindh cabinet on Thursday introduced the Teaching Licence Policy.

The government of Sindh has already taken the first step toward rolling out the new policy. Some 700 new vacancies have been created for elementary school teachers (eligible to teach grades 1-8) across Sindh in BPS-16.

Previously, junior elementary school teachers (JESTs) were being inducted in BPS-14 and were required to have completed graduation in any field.

These new 700 vacancies will only be offered to graduates of the BEd degree programme who have also cleared the licensing exam.

Creates around 700 vacancies for elementary schoolteachers; offers expeditious promotion and job regularisation

The policy is aimed at attracting talented youth to the teaching profession as well as raising the status of the profession. This landmark reform looks to bringing the same rigour and respect to the teaching profession as enjoyed by the other skill-based professions, including medicine, accounting, law and engineering. Now, the new entrants to the field of teaching will be both required and incentivised to get professional training before seeking jobs.

The policy preparation was preceded by a year-long research and consultation led by Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) which culminated in a ‘White Paper’ which was jointly launched by AKU-IED, Sindh Teachers Education Development Authority (STEDA) and Durbeen in June 2022. Consultations were held among a wide range of stakeholders – Pakistani universities, school management, teachers, teachers’ unions, parents and students. Scholars from several other institutions, including Ziauddin University, contributed to the policy-writing efforts.

Sharing his views about the development, Sindh Minister for Education, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities, Syed Sardar Ali Shah, said that conceptualising and bringing the teaching licence policy to life had not been easy.

“However, I am grateful to the AKU-IED, STEDA, Durbeen and all other partners who have worked tirelessly to make this policy a possibility. The success of the next generation of teachers and students ultimately depends on its smooth implementation,” he said.

“Introduction of the Teaching Licence Policy by the Sindh government marks a significant achievement in the field of education,” said the Minister.

The provincial minister added that Sindh was the only province which had introduced a Teaching Licence Policy. “This policy represents a proactive approach by the government to address the critical need for qualified and skilled teachers in the province. The policy not only establishes a minimum standard for new teachers but also elevates the teaching profession by aligning it with other esteemed professions,” Sardar Ali Shah said.

According to him, a growing body of research clearly establishes the value of effective teachers. Econometric research from the past decade shows that effective teachers can deliver three times the learning in a single academic year than ineffective teachers can. As is well known, a good teacher can transform a mediocre curriculum into a very rich learning experience. This makes a strong case for education reform to focus on raising teacher quality and support. Teacher licensing is one of the ways to do so.

Under the new policy, Bachelor of Education (BEd) graduates can now apply to take a licensing exam. This licensing exam will assess both content knowledge as well as pedagogical knowledge. Upon passing the exam, they will be awarded a teaching licence in one of the three categories -- elementary (grades 1-8), primary (grades 1-5) and secondary (grades 6-12).

The existing full-time government schoolteachers can choose to continue employment as per status quo, or if they meet the requirements under the policy, they may opt for the licensing exam and expedite their promotions. Also, contractual teachers in government schools, who meet the requirements, can expedite job regularisation through the licensing process.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2023

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