Pakistan’s education crisis is vast and complex – not only do we need to get more children in school, we also need to keep them there and ensure they have access to quality education. In recent years provincial governments have taken steps to improve the quality of teachers present in classrooms.
There have been numerous policy measures in recent years aimed specifically at improving recruitment and deployment of teachers. These policies have ranged from those aimed at hiring more qualified teachers, to strengthening merit-based recruitment, to policies aimed at a reduction in political interference, to those aimed at reducing deployment imbalances by shifting recruitment to the local level. These changes have been aimed at improving the professional status of teachers.
The most critical reform in any area of education in recent years has been the adoption of the National Testing Service (NTS) pioneered by the Punjab, and now having been adopted in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. The NTS is an independent and privately owned testing service contracted by the government in Pakistan to administer tests for positions across various government departments. The test, aimed as a measure for gauging teacher quality during recruitment, assesses teachers’ ‘content knowledge’ (rather than pedagogy). In the last five years alone, an impressive 1/5th of all teachers currently employed in the system have been recruited through the merit based NTS exam. Over 125,847 teachers have been recruited on merit across four provinces over the last four years. This is a transformational change in the educational landscape, where political appointment of teachers was considered one of the most daunting challenges in the way of ensuring better learning for Pakistani children.