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MAKING learning an interesting activity is vital to attract children towards education as early as in pre-primary and primary classes.

Though this initiative has been well taken by the elite private schools, it is yet to creep in the public schools and low-cost private institutions.

This was observed by Parveen Sayyed who heads the National Urdu Programme in PRATHAM (an Indian organisation working to ensure that every child should be in school and learn well). She was in Pakistan last week and organised two training workshops for the teachers of primary schools in Multan and Lahore to enable them to make class-room teaching and learning interesting.

She said PRATHAM had launched Combined Activity Maximize Learning (CAMAL) programme as a part of its initiative “Read India” wherein children were imparted education through games and activities. The project proved fruitful as young students’ learning outcomes improved and they developed interest for seeking education.

While discussing the CAMAL initiative, Ms Sayyed said she conducted a six-day training workshop for primary public and private school teachers and volunteers in Multan that included four-day training on improving Urdu language and two-day exercise on making mathematics learning an interesting activity.

She was conducting another three-day workshop for schoolteachers about Early Childhood Education (ECE) organised by Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi, Institute of Professional Learning in collaboration with PRATHAM India, EYLA and Professional Training Association Network at Institute of Education and Research, Punjab University.

She said CAMAL initiative helped motivate even shy girls to come out and teach children in their villages. Parents also were motivated to take informed decisions and send their kids to schools.

During the training workshop in Multan, Ms Sayyed said she and the trainees selected Ravani village and conducted a survey by preparing village map, collecting information about population, dropout and never-to-school children. Later, CAMAL was practically implemented in the school by teaching students through innovative activities and games.

The teachers, she said, were imparted training on how to educate primary class students to know about the Urdu words and how Urdu letters change their shapes and sounds besides helping students improve their handwriting.

They were also instructed how mathematics could be taught through games and activities. “Teachers had read and learnt but were never trained to make teaching a joyful experience by using games and activities,” she said.

Ms Sayyed stressed that the “distance between teachers and students be removed” and added that a teacher should preferably transform himself/herself into a “good friend of students”. She further said the trainee teachers were taught how to teach students in classes I and II and up to Class-V and how to conduct a test without making young students nervous.

An ITA training coordinator in Multan and Muzaffargarh, Mehwish Riaz said the training helped us learn how to improve Urdu learning of students. She said she would be better placed while training primary schoolteachers to get themselves involved in teaching and learning exercise instead of following the “dry lecture method” in vogue.

“If schoolteachers will work a bit hard and with involvement, the end result will be very encouraging,” she added.

Referring to the outcomes, Ms Sayyed, who is also heading the National Urdu Resource Centre in Hyderabad, India, said she wanted that the well-tested “Read India” programme be replicated as “Read Pakistan” – ensuring reading and learning beyond the limits of borders.

This innovative initiative is needed to be replicated in Punjab in view of the fact that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had last week rolled out “CM’s School Reforms Roadmap” and pledged to bring all school-going (3-16 years) children in schools by Oct 31 this year and retain them to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Only imparting of education in interesting manner can do a miracle (camal ho sakta hai) to attract children to schools and retain them up to secondary level.

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THE Lahore College for Women University this past week screened video documentaries on “Violence against Women” in collaboration with Shirkatgah Women’s Resource Center to create awareness about different forms of violence against women.

Two documentaries – “Apna Haq Pehchanu” and “Burn Life” depicted various issues related to violence against women. The documentaries were the original productions of the students of varsity’s mass communication department.

After each documentary presentation, questions were asked from the producers and the teachers and the audience shared their views and experiences.

A short film on honour killing ‘Mehru’, produced by mass communication students, also was screened on the occasion.

Shirkatgah’s Advocacy and Communications Director Fauzia Viqar, who was the chief guest, stressed that women should be aware of their basic rights as they were important part of society and should not be deprived of the rights that Islam had given to them.

Apart from taking care of families, she said, women also worked hard side by side with men in all spheres of life. She regretted that violence had become a norm of this society, though it was never part of Islamic culture.

She called for an active role of the government in helping women financially and socially. LCWU Mass Communication Department head Dr Anjum Zia said it was unfortunate that injustice against women was rampant in society and was increasing with every passing day.

“The easiest way to fight for women’s right is to create awareness among the masses about women’s basic rights,” she said.

Shirkatgah’s consultant Gulnar Tabassum, who is an independent film-maker, said not only women needed to be aware of their rights but men also should be educated in this regard.

Later, certificates were distributed among the documentary makers/students.

HEALTH DAY: The LCWU celebrated the International Health Day by organising special Yoga session at the Student Service Centre. The session was conducted by yoga master Shamshad Haider who has 17 years of experience in yoga training in different countries.

The yoga master taught several Assans (specific posture exercises) for several health problems including frozen shoulders, lower back pain and skin problems. He also emphasised the importance of body movements, breathing patterns and importance of yoga in health. The students of MS Health psychology showed keen interest in these exercises. About 50-60 students and faculty member from different departments of the university attended the event. —