Universal education is widely acknowledged by governments around the world as a key priority. And over the last few decades, global student enrollment has increased significantly. But while it is one thing to roll out education access on a wider level, it is entirely separate challenge to make sure all students are deriving the same benefits from education. Children experience schooling differently based on their disability, gender, caste, religion and where they live, and those distinctions have real consequences for learning outcomes and enrollment.
How can we make sure that education is inclusive of diverse backgrounds?
This is what the Teaching Effectively All Children (TEACh) initiative seeks to address in Pakistan. A collaboration of the Institute for Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS) and the Cambridge University-based Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL), TEACh will identify aspects of teaching that are most important for learning and offer strategies for training teachers to be attuned to the needs of disadvantaged students so that they can meet their full potential.
To fill the information gap on how disadvantage affects learning outcomes for children who are not in school, the research will assess children both in households and at school in the Hafizabad, Sargodha and Kasur districts of Punjab. The assessments will test core skills taught in primary school, such as reading, writing, reasoning and numeracy. Follow-up tests will be administered a year later to determine how much changes in learning can be attributed to teaching or household circumstances. Data collected from these assessments will provide insights into the kind of support teachers need to provide disadvantaged students.
Not only will this study add to the global understanding of what works in creating teacher practices inclusive of students with disadvantages, but it will be of particular relevance to Punjab, a microcosm of the dilemma in education outlined above. Of all provinces in Pakistan, Punjab has seen the highest student enrollment. But to get the remaining out-of-school children to enroll, there is a need for schooling to accommodate for disadvantages that are preventing children from accessing a good education. This research will be instrumental for policymakers working to make school advantageous to all, regardless of background.
A similar project is being undertaken in India by Collaborative Research and Dissemination (CORD), an education research organization. Findings from both studies will offer solutions for best practices in inclusive education for both countries, as well as other low-income countries that face similar problems in education.
ResourcesPolicy Dialogue on Teaching, Learning and Disadvantage
Presentation | Rabea Malik and Pauline Rose (University of Cambridge)
The Stabilizing Power of School for Children with Disabilities in Pakistan
Faisal Bari | Open Society Foundations | January 4, 2017
Understanding and responding to disadvantage in education
Rabea Malik | Developing Pakistan | December 11, 2016
Who learns and who does not? Examining choices for including the excluded
Baela Raza Jamil (Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi) | The Education Commission | December 2, 2016
1, 2, 3 testing: Assessing learning of what, for what, and for whom?
Pauline Rose (University of Cambridge) | Global Partnership for Education | November 30, 2016