Opdracht 27

Utrecht - Lhasa

Erwin Bastienne



Voer een gesprek met een leerkracht in een van de landen waar jullie doorheen komen. Meerdere gesprekken in meerdere landen met meerdere leerkrachten mag ook. Graag zelfs!
Vraag naar de onderwijssituatie in zijn of haar land, maar probeer ook zijn motieven, opvattingen en ambities te achterhalen.
Bijvoorbeeld: hoe ziet een schooldag eruit, onder welke (materiŽle) omstandigheden wordt er les gegeven, hoeveel leerlingen en leerkrachten zijn er, welke problemen ervaren zij, welke vormen van leerlingbegeleiding zijn er, wordt er klassikaal gewerkt of juist niet? Maar ook: welke opvattingen over (goed) onderwijs heeft hij, waarom werkt hij in het onderwijs, waaraan beleeft hij plezier en wat zou hij graag willen bereiken of veranderen, welke pedagogische ideeŽn heeft hij?
Stuur een verslag van dit gesprek naar Nederland. Wie weet heeft iemand zin er een leesbaar en boeiend verhaal van te maken en te verspreiden onder geÔnteresseerden.

donderdag 23 mei 2002

Het zingen van het volkslied De jongensgroep verzonken in gebed
22 oktober 2002, Peshawar
Na een maand tussen twee schoolgebouwen in gewoond te hebben en elke ochtend met het volkslied van Pakistan te ontwaken, moest het er eens van komen. Ik (Bastienne) ben op 21 en 22 oktober op beide afdelingen van de Muslim Public School, Peshawar Cantt, langsgeweest. Ik heb de Assembly bijgewoond (zoals het zingen van het volkslied heet), een scheikundeles gevolgd en uitgebreid met de rector van ťťn van de scholen gesproken. Hieronder volgt (in het Engels, alle gesprekken en informatie was tenslotte in het Engels) een informatief artikel over onderwijs in Pakistan op basis van mijn ervaringen en beperkte literatuur. De meeste getallen die ik heb gebruikt komen uit de Lonely Planet (Pakistan 1998 en India 2001), uit de Encarta Encyclopedie 2000 en uit gesprekken met de leraren, de rector Mr. Abdul Aziz Khan of van Bahadar Khan (geen familie) van het Tourists Inn Motel. De getallen zijn uiteraard allemaal juist, mijn interpretaties zijn persoonlijk en gebaseerd op het bezoek van ťťn school. Het letterlijke verslag van het interview is ook beschikbaar (klik hier). Voor de Nederlandse vertaling, klik hier.

Knowledge is Power

Every morning five hundred boys and girls of all ages sing their lungs out for their country Pakistan, just behind our hotel room. Six days a week they start their school day at 7:30 h. with the prayers and the singing of the National Anthem, accompanied by a very old tape judged by the sound of it. They stand in neat lines, feet together and hands folded. Their school uniforms are spotless, their backpacks huge. The teacher greets them: "Good morning students!", and the students answer: "Good morning teachers!". Then they enthusiastically sing their song, of which I can only understand the word: ....Pakistan... The school grounds then quiet down as the kids follow their teachers into the small classrooms.

Some numbers
The many motto's of the school are everywhere: "For God and Country", "Religion Industry Wisdom Character" and "Knowledge is Power". In a country where the literacy rate is 50% for men and only 10 to 25% for women (the average literacy rate being only 38%), the latter is probably a very true statement. Schooling is only available to half the country's children under 10 years old, and to 20% of older children. It may be interesting to compare these numbers with those of India, Pakistans neighbor sharing the same history of British rule. The literacy rate in India is on average 65% (between 48 and 91% varying between states), 76% for men and 54% for women in 2001. Two thirds of India's children attends school, although drop-out rates are high. Education is compulsory and free for all up to the age of 14, whereas it is not compulsory in Pakistan.
Pakistan is in the bottom ten countries for girls' attendance in school. Illustrative is the story that school principal Mr. Abdul Aziz Khan tells me of his 10th class student. "Just this week, one of our girls is getting married. She will leave school when she is married. We cannot do anything about this." When asked whether he agrees with this or tries to talk to the family he repeats: "We cannot do anything about this," not answering my question whether he agrees or not.
On the other hand, since the independence of Pakistan (1947), school enrolments have risen dramatically. Also the literacy rate has improved a lot, mainly through self teaching or home teaching of children. Mr. Khan mentions that facilities and standards of teaching also have improved very much since independence, but more improvement is necessary he feels.

Set-up of the Pakistani educational system
Pakistani education knows a nursery (below 4 years old) where children only play. Pre-school follows (KG or kindergarden), for 4 year olds. These young children learn to write Urdu and English alphabets, and some basic reading. Then matric or primary education is class I to VI, starting no younger than 5 years old. After that there is secondary education (high school or FA (Faculty of Arts)), class VII to XII. The students choose 8 subjects out of a total of more than 30. Next, students may go to university and get the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master degrees (four subjects). Finally the PhD degree is one subject.
During the full 12 years of education, Urdu, English, Pakistan history, and Islam are compulsory subjects, several classes of 40 minutes per week. Additionally, science classes are taught: chemistry, biology, mathematics and physics, one class per week. Furthermore, from a total of 22 arts subjects the students choose four. Which ones are offered depends on the school, it is impossible for one school to have teachers for all these classes. The topics include social studies, psychology, household, etc. Technical subjects are not offered, these are saved for college (e.g. engineering). The subjects are for boys and girls the same.
Boys and girls share schools and classrooms up to IXth grade (about 13 years old). After this, culture and religion prescribes strict separation of men and women, to the extent where women are not allowed outside the house without the burqa, which makes them look like walking ghosts. Not all families are so strict, but it is nonetheless unimaginable that a 15 year old girl would share a classroom with a boy. In this respect it is rather amazing that as a woman, I was allowed to visit both the girls and the boys sides of a Pakistani school. Erwin was not allowed inside the girls section.

A private school
The Muslim Public School in Peshawar is, strangely, a private school. However, it has agreed to follow all government rules and prescriptions regarding policy, materials, school rules etcetera. It means in practice that it is owned by one person, a woman who visits the school while I am there, who can decide about admission, about the school building and about hiring personnel, but the education is very similar to public schools. One part of the school (on the left side of the motel) is for primary education and girls' secondary education, the other part on the right side is for boys secondary education. The 'girls' side has 500 students from about 5 years to 18 years old, and employs 22 teachers. A simple calculation gives an average of 40 students per classroom, the same number I counted while visiting the boys side of the school. The classrooms there were approximately 4 meters wide by 7 meters deep, packed with small wooden chairs in lines without tables. There were no windows, only an open door.
Private schools charge a fee to students (an unconfirmed number: 500 Rs ($9) per month), but when a student or his family is not able to pay the fee, the principal may decide to charge no fee. This sounds as if education is open to anyone, rich or poor. However, the principal also decides which students are admitted to his school and which are not. With limited capacity of space and teachers, his school is already full. He may decide to admit more students whose parents are able to pay the fee in order to cover all the expenses of the school. The same consideration holds for books and other consumables such as paper. The students buy their books in regular shops. If they can not afford this, the school may decide to supply them with the necessities.
The students of the Muslim Public School start every morning at 7:30 h. with the prayers and National Anthem. Most children arrive between 7 and 7:30 h. by scooter, minibus or car, or are brought in by parents. If they are late they get a note but no punishment, since most are relying on others to get to school. They have a lunchbreak around 11 or 12:00 h., but do not leave the premises as far as we know. The children and grandchildren of Bahadar Khan, manager of the Tourists Inn Motel, visit the motel regularly during lunch so leaving is probably allowed. Otherwise, the students attend classes all day, 8 subjects of 40 minutes, and leave at 14:00 h. On Friday, they have only 5 subjects and leave at 12:00 h., after which they go for Friday prayers. The summer holiday is three months from June to August, during which it is too hot to teach.

Methods of education
Education is almost invariably in classes, not individually unless a private teacher is hired. Below are two examples of teaching methods that I was able to observe in a short period.
The chemistry class I attended at the boys high school was a IXth grade class with about 40 boys on average 14 to 15 years old. The teacher explained that the language of teaching is English, while sometimes he uses Urdu or Pashto for clarification. The students obviously had to read a particular chapter of their (English language) textbook at home. The teacher, after being greeted by the students who rose when he came in, just started the lesson by starting to talk, without closing the door or any other sign of starting. It was clear that he closely followed the textbook. He frequently asked questions to a particular student who would then stand up and cite the answer as if he was reading out loud. A wrong answer rose laughter from the class or a joke from the teacher, although all very good-naturedly, supposedly because of their visitor? Bahadar Khan of the motel says a stick is still used for punishment, as he pointed to a scene of a teacher with a stick and a boy close by. I did not see anything happen. The principal Mr. Khan says punishment beyond 'standing in a corner' is very rare.
The subject of the class was brought in a fairly applied way, using examples from the real world. The amount of theory that was expected to be known seemed high to me, compared to the Netherlands. Some students seemed to understand the theory, but most, I think, only learned it by heart. The manner in which the teacher was explaining the subject did not add much to the text of the book, although he seemed full of anecdotes, making it an interesting lesson.
Secondly, I was shown the notebooks of several first class students (five to six year olds) of their English classes. In it were pages and pages of neatly written English text: days of the week, numbers, short sentences. Much clearer than 1st graders in Holland would produce... Mr. Khan says most students can read and write English very well, but they never speak it. Mostly they are the only person in their home who speaks English so they do not practise. The teaching method relies on repetition and studying of lists of words as far as I can see.
At the end of high school all students take a government test. If this is failed, the student cannot attend any school anymore. It is up to them how to proceed. A possibility is hiring a private teacher and try again the next year. Without passing it is not possible to attend a college or university.

Difficulties of Pakistani education
Mr. Khan, who joined the Muslim Public School in 1965 as a principal and teacher, still teaches nine hours of English every week. He enjoys his job, but a clear answer as to 'why?' is not given. "It is what I choose, it is my favorite thing to do." is his general answer.
Surprisingly, Mr. Khan says: "During British rule, teaching was NOT an honorary job. After the reforms and when Pakistan became independent, there is more respect and honor for teachers. But money counts, money counts a lot", he says. He quotes a Pashto saying which amounts to something like: "When you have money in the home, you have money in the bazaar, and this gains you respect" (very freely interpreted). The salary is reasonably good, nothing to complain about he says. But of course teachers complain sometimes, he says when asked about the stories in the newspapers that teachers were complaining about salary. "When you are content, it is a full stop", he says. "When you are content, you do not try to develop yourself anymore, and you will not improve."
The main problems that Mr. Khan sees in education are already mentioned. There is a large difference in income and standard of living between the families of the students. Students from poorer families are supported, but only to a certain extent. Also, students from poorer families generally can not rely on their parents for help since a large number of poor parents are illiterate. Therefore, if the children encounter problems in school or are falling behind, their family can not help them. To a very small extent the teacher can give individual help, but as Mr. Khan says: "There is not much time for the teachers left to help individuals." The teacher can then talk to the parents (which they will do) but again, these are likely to be illiterate and can not help. In short, these students are on their own. "Also," says Mr. Khan, "children from rich families are generally good students because they receive help", closing the vicious circle.
However, it is not all problems. Mr. Khan says: "Education in this country has improved, it has improved very much already. Standards (of education) are improving, facilities are improving compared to the West. But these things can improve more. In Europe, there are more facilities, higher standards of education, better results."

Waar zijn we geweest deze reis:

Europa - Turkije - Iran - Pakistan - India - Nepal - China

India - Pakistan - Iran - Turkije - SyriŽ - JordaniŽ - Libanon - SyriŽ - Turkije - Europa

Foto's kijken... klik hier voor enkele collecties!

Wadi Rum, Jordan Deosai Plains, Pakistan India
AziŽ Overland Spectaculair Pakistan Mystieke momenten

GPS waypoints en Google Earth
Van alles over reizen met de auto, carnet de passages, verzekeringen, enzovoorts
Reisverhalen over de aardbeving in Bam, klimmen bij de Everest, werken in Pakistan en nog veel meer.