Twenty Pakistani teachers, five of whom live in areas devastated by last October’s earthquake in Pakistan, will travel to New Hampshire in June to attend the 2006 Pakistani Teachers Institute at Plymouth State University (PSU), where they will live on campus and participate in an international cultural and educational exchange.
PSU partners with Pakistan’s Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) or Centre for Education and Consciousness Public Trust, to organize the Pakistani Teachers Institute. The program has been in existence for two years and is funded by a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Education & Cultural Affairs.
The goals of the Pakistani Teachers Institute are to provide exposure to activity-based learning with innovation, student-centered approaches, and leadership training that lays the foundation for participants to be master trainers upon their return to Pakistan. This is accomplished through instructional materials and follow-up activities such as post-training seminars, discussions forums, transfer of knowledge and skills to geographically diverse areas and the development of a network through which mentoring models are promoted.
“Following the earthquake in Pakistan last October, it was unclear whether or not we would hold the 2006 Pakistani Teachers Institute,” says Dr. Mary McNeil, director of PSU’s Office of International Institutes and Programs. “In the wake of such devastation there was concern participants would not be prepared to leave their families behind. We were pleased to learn that not only did ITA want to move forward with the 2006 teachers institute, but that at least five participants would be from the affected areas. The resilience of these teachers reinforces the premise on which the institute has been built: education is the key to progress and understanding.”
The 2006 participants are expected to arrive on campus June 26 for the four-week professional development institute that will focus on best practices in education in math, science and leadership. Twelve women and eight men, representing various administrative levels in the Pakistani educational system, will live on campus, meeting with members of both the University and Plymouth communities for international educational and cultural exchange.
After two years, McNeil says there have been significant results. “In a recent conversation I had with Beena Raza, a head administrator at ITA, she told me about a ground-breaking initiative the government in Punjab had launched for mentoring primary school teachers across the province. From December 26, 2005 through January 7, 2006 district teacher educators attended training sessions promoting child-centered and activity-based teaching processes that ITA facilitated, and engaged resource personnel as mentors, all of whom were 2004 and 2005 alums of PSU’s Pakistani Teachers Institute.”
Additionally, McNeil notes that three past participants have been chosen for other international educational opportunities, based in large part on their skills and past international travel. “Beena reports that they have seen huge gains in confidence in past attendees of the PSU Pakistani Teachers Institute,” says McNeil. “Some of the younger attendees have been selected to present to their senior colleagues, and are making a very positive impression and gaining a great deal of respect.”
For more information about the Pakistani Teachers Institute, contact Dr. Mary McNeil at (603) 535-2982 or visit online at www.plymouth.edu/pakistani.