HEC’S National Hub for the Professional In-Service Certification of University Academia and Management
“Quality Teachers for Quality Education”
Teaching is not a just a profession but it has an art and science to it. Each academic discipline has generic and specified approach to be incorporated to ensure quality teaching. Imparting of quality education can never be ensured without the presence of well-qualified and trained teachers. However the paradigm shift of learner oriented approach is the new world order as it gives the learner, the ability to generate and actively participate in the learning and knowledge process. Therefore it is highly imperative that the principles of requisite professional teaching skills which are generic in nature must be known to all professional teachers especially serving at Higher Education level providing impetus of quality trickling down to the ultimate stakeholders who are the students.
In the absence of a formal pre-service mechanism for the professional training of HE academics and education managers it is highly imperative to fill up the gap through in-service academic orientation and certification with a national integrated approach so that it trickles down quality across the board giving equal access and opportunity to all HEI’s across Pakistan irrespective of regional, demographical, gender disparities having uniformity of implementation.
But, do university teachers really need professional training or are they qualified enough to become teachers on the basis of their education? According to a survey title “Impact Analysis of Faculty Development Programs conducted under the HEC project National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE)” (2007), it was concluded that HE teachers do need professional training as it is a skill oriented task and this task must be taken up at national level to ensure uniformity and quality across the board.
Fortunately Faculty Development is one of the key pillars of Higher Education Commission strategic vision and an important component of the Medium Term Development Framework (MTDF 2010-15) a policy document elucidating HEC targets and objectives.
Pakistani academics of higher education institutions have been fortunate enough to get HEC’s holistic support to cater to their professional requirements through the Learning Innovation Division which is the national hub of in-service professional certification of teachers at HEI’s empowering them with requisite professional and academic skill through its three units:
1. Learning Innovation core unit;
2. National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE) project and;
3. English Language Teaching Reforms (ELTR) project.
Strategic initiatives and in-service programs have been launched keeping in view the absence of a pre-service training mechanism for teaching faculty at higher education level. In this regard the stakeholders are university and college teachers who have directly benefitted from four broad categories of programs since 2003. These programs are fully funded by HEC without a slight financial liability on any faculty. These four broad categories of programs are:
1. Master Trainers (MT) Programs
2. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Programs
3. ELTR Sponsored Initiatives
4. Modern University Governance Program for University Management
It is important to note that there are more than 19000 teachers serving at HEI’s across Pakistan is. As it is difficult to reach all the university teaching faculty directly, LID has formulated a two pronged strategy to take up the challenging task of developing Master Trainers in HEC first who are expected to replicate the same programs in their respective universities/institutions after being certified as HEC Master Trainers and are required to trickle down and cascade their learning in their respective parent organizations within the next six months as part of HEC mandatory policy.
The contribution through these programs has been instrumental and directly aimed at the professional skill enhancement of each of the stakeholders however let us review some of the milestones covered:
443 Master Trainers have been trained to cascade trainings in their parent institution through the Master Trainers faculty professional development program which is held in Islamabad for two months. However NAHE project has been the most effective model as it has reached 4698 teachers through its one month PCEPT program at doorstep of each university across Pakistan. Generic and specified teaching training modules have been developed and being implemented in training activities across Pakistan under NAHE and 460 have benefitted from ICT related program titled Incorporating Technology into Education (ITE)
In addition 132 English teachers from colleges and universities have been awarded fully funded indigenous scholarships up to MPhil level linguistics related degree programs under the English language teaching reforms project (ELTR). In addition 03 scholars are pursuing PhD and Master level degree program at 3 different British universities partially funded by HEC/ELTR.
Around 7000 university and college teachers have benefitted from continuous faculty professional development seminars and workshops based on HEC initiatives and university proposals.
LI developed Policy Guidelines for the Semester and Examination System and for smooth implementation of the approved guidelines faculty and examination staff is given orientation through seminars and workshops.
In order to bridge the gap between academia and management for the first time management cadre has also been included in capacity building to equip them with latest governance tools and mechanisms. 457 members including Vice Chancellors Registrars Controllers Treasurers Dean HOD’S and Hostel Wardens and other officials related to the management cadre benefitted from the program titled Modern University Governance program for university management.
Recently HEC has announced its support for the colleges of Pakistan and in this regard the ELTR project Phase-II in collaboration with US Embassy Islamabad arranged an International Resource Person (IRP) workshop on Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), for the teachers of Public Sector universities and Colleges of Islamabad/Rawalpindi. The uniqueness of this exercise was that for the first time the students of these 14 college teachers were also a part of this course as they showed impact through their feedback by generating into academic activities been given the International Certification in TESOL by the US Government sitting in Pakistan.
Similarly three universities have been given a grant of 2.0 million each to establish self-access centers. All these initiatives have been taken but much more is to be done. The targets might have been achieved but there are many milestones to be covered. The MTDF 2010-15 envisions continuous professional development centers at each university. Similarly all the in-service trainings are in the process of being incentivized and linked to promotion. The modules developed for such trainings are in the midst of ISO 9000 certification.
In order to ensure that this process goes uninterrupted there is a need of sustainable national level policy and implementation mechanism so that each of the stakeholders benefit from these initiatives without any impediment and serve the future of the nation ensuring sustainable quality of education.