KARACHI: The Caretaker Sindh Government introduced Pakistan’s first teaching licence test on Tuesday.

It has created grade-16 posts of elementary teacher for BEd (2.5/4 years) graduates.

Subject to the provincial government’s recruitment rules, the candidates passing the licence test will be eligible for the posts.

This step will ensure a higher calibre of educators in public schools and will lead to a culture of teaching excellence in Sindh, according to officials.

Sukkur Institute of Business Administration’s Testing Services is accepting online applications for the test at https://apply.sts.net.pk until January 11, 2024.

Creates around 400 grade-16 vacancies of ‘elementary teacher’ for BEd graduates

BEd secondary (1.5 years) graduates will be eligible to apply for the Teaching Licence (Secondary) in subsequent testing cycles.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Caretaker Sindh Minister for Education Rana Hussain said that this step was only for helping teachers and facilitating their promotion. “If you have done your B.Ed from whichever of the two semesters, you are ready and eligible to sit for the licensing test,” she said.

She said that it is a proud moment for the Government of Sindh to be the first in the country and the province to come out with teaching licence. “You should use it to your advantage,” she said, adding that the test can be taken at any of three test centres -- Karachi, Hyderabad or Sukkur.

“We have also taken care to keep the tests on weekends so that your normal teaching schedules don’t get disturbed. So do avail this opportunity to become a professional teacher, she added.

“So raise your status and be known as a professional licensed teacher,” she concluded.

It was last year, on May 25, that for the first time in Pakistan, the Sindh Teaching Licence Policy was approved (by the provincial cabinet) with the aim of attracting talented youth to the teaching profession and raising the status of the profession.

The landmark reform are aimed at bringing the same rigour and respect to the teaching profession as enjoyed by other skill-based professions, including medicine, accounting, law and engineering. New entrants to the field of teaching will be both required and incentivised to get professional training before seeking jobs.

New vacancies

Some 400 new vacancies were created for Elementary School Teachers (eligible to teach grades 1-8) across Sindh at 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 vacancies are only for graduates of the BEd degree programme, who have also cleared the licensing exam.

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.

Teaching licence sets a minimum standard for new entrants, which will raise the status of the teaching profession in public perception. This has been seen in several other professions, both in Pakistan and globally. In the short term, improved public perception provides the justification for raising teachers’ salaries. In long term, it helps attract talented youth to the profession.

Preparation of policy

The policy preparation was preceded by a year-long research and consultation led by the 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 of 2022. Consultations were held among a wide range of stakeholders – Pakistani universities, school managements, teachers, teachers’ unions, students and their parents. Scholars from several other institutions, including Ziauddin University, contributed to the policy writing efforts.

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

In subsequent licence testing cycles, the government will introduce the Teaching Licence Secondary (grades 6-12) and the Teaching Licence Primary (grades 1-5).

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2024

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