City School Director Studies Dr Uzma Javed was a panellist at the CIE/British Council conference “Building a Curriculum that Equips Learners for the Future” on 8 April 2014 at Hotel Avari, Lahore. Over 134 school organisations from across Pakistan were represented at the conference by their top executives, including a number of CEOs. Fellow panellists included Mr. Kasim Kasuri (CEO – Beaconhouse School System), Mrs. Samina Rehman (Director – Lahore Grammar School) and Mrs. Khadija Mushtaq (CEO – Roots International).
The topic of the panel discussion was “Are examinations an enemy to good education?”
Dr. Javed said that it is important to understand and define what good education is. She was of the opinion that examinations are just one aspect within any education system that should be valid enough to serve the dual purpose of conducting an academic audit as well as promoting learning. Examinations should not be the epicentre of all of the teaching and learning practices. The system of assessments, including that which CIE offers in Pakistan, needed to be geared to real learning required for 21st century citizens, rather than focusing only on the achievement of high scores and grades. “Are our examinations really equipping students with 21st century skills?” she asked.
A good educational experience must have a balanced approach towards the five Cs in 21st century learning: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity and computerisation skills. Assessment must be valid enough to appreciate all of these as well. Merely considering that computers and digitechs or high grades in summative examinations alone would be sufficient, might not be correct in this regard.
“We need to offer an educational experience to our students that appreciates personalised learning but is sufficiently valid and reliable to achieve certain standards as well. Many schools in the world are moving from inter-disciplinary to trans-disciplinary models. That is the real creativity and the real challenge for all of us as educationists,” she stated.
In conclusion, Dr. Uzma Javed said that, as emphasised in Islam, a balance needs to be maintained and a tilt to any one side leads to problems.
Among the comments of the other panellists was the view put forward by Beaconhouse Chief Executive Kasim Kasuri that examinations should look for the application of concepts but that more creative ways were needed to assess children. Despite the ‘quality’ in schools, students feel that they need to go to tuition centres to brush up their skills with people they think have cracked the code or the system, was the opinion of Lahore Grammar School Director Samina Rahman. Roots School Director Khadija Mushtaq stressed the need to address the growing tuition culture plaguing the education system.
It was announced at the conference that Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) will be launching a certificate and diploma programme for teachers in classroom practices, leadership, and technology integration in teaching and learning practices by the coming year, said to be the first of its kind initiated by them. CIE Chief Executive Michael O’Sullivan expressed the view that, in terms of developing the assessments that were presently in place, there was a need to bridge the old-school methodology of examinations with the growing needs of the 21st century.
After the end, all the participants were invited to a dinner reception organised by The City School.