(Mehr Parwar, Rawalpindi)

For a fair selection everyone must take the same exam! PLEASE CLIMB THAT TREE. When children start their education journey we provide them pencil and paper to assess their competency even without knowing and exploring their inner capabilities and interests. Thus, instead of providing an enabling learning environment in the school we start to observe our children’s academic performance with grades and marks with only one lens and make judgments and decisions in their education. In this way, we mark the children with a label of fail or pass and compliment with lethargic statements such as; stupid, unintelligent, clever or topper etc. At the end, such exams cause to evolve bad values like cheating, negative competition, jealousy and selfishness among young learners. Moreover, test anxiety can lead to overall poor performance, lowered self-esteem, and a loss of motivation towards learning. As a result, children try to pass their exams through memorizing the facts and rote learning. In other words, our education system develops good parrots instead of active learners and intellectuals. Regard to this the teachers prepare their students to get good marks by covering a prescribed proportion of curriculum through jug and mug system. Thus, reproducing taught curriculum and obtaining good marks to promote to the next class remains the main aim of education in our country. The teachers without knowing and exploring intelligences of children, carry them all with only one sort of examination ‘a paper and pencil test’. This kind of examination is likely; to ask a fish to climb a tree and at the end considering it unsuccessful and stupid for not climbing up.

In fact, in primary grades the aim of education is to develop good manners and values along with basic language and communication skills. In early grades children learn through interactive activities such as; movement, interactions, concrete and hand-on ways rather than abstract reasoning and paper pencil activities. Most of the time children listen, act out stories, talk, move and play. Therefore, school environment should be relevant to the basic concepts of early grade education where children should have opportunity to move, talk play and take part in other hands on activities and learn about their environment.

If we study developed countries education system we come to know that they don’t have examination system in primary grades such as; in Japanese schools, the students don’t get any exams until they reach the 4th grade. Why? Because the goal of first three years of schools is not to judge the child’s learning, but to establish good manners and to develop their character! The Japanese schools teach manners before knowledge. Contrary to this in countries like Pakistan a child is prepared to pass written exams from very inception of his education and schooling which frustrates the child from the school and learning instead of motivating. Therefore, the contemporary research in education puts an emphasis on holistic development approach and ongoing assessment in early grade education. Considering this the concept of Multiple Intelligences by Harvard Gardener better describes that every child has some unique intelligences through s/he learns any skill sooner or later according to available environment and support. Therefore, this approach suggests the teachers to facilitate children through carrying various teaching and learning methods and develop children’s records on the base of on-going assessment in primary grades. It can be only possible by recruiting teachers based on merit and through that only expert teachers must be designated in primary grades. In addition, it is also essential to see teachers interest and background in early grade teaching and pedagogy. For that teachers must go through a teaching demonstration and presentation instead of taking NTS tests because NTS cannot determine adequate standards for teachers’ selection. Moreover, primary grade teachers must be provided with training in developing assessment tools based on content domains for fair assessment of children’s learning. Responding to this, Hashoo Foundation is extensively working on teacher’s training from last twelve years and producing quality teachers for the job market. This work of Hashoo Foundation describes the progress of child development holistically and meets the real aims of education with justice.

In the end, I would like to quote Albert Einstein that, everyone is genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will leave its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Mehr Parwar Program Officer Education Policy & Advocacy

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