Education in Pakistan has hardly any relevance to the life and experience of the learners be it formal or non-formal education. Not only the content has little relevance but the method and teaching techniques employed in teaching are also farther from the ways and the styles of learning the children come with to schools.
Right from day one, they are required to forget and unlearn what they have already learnt. They are subjected to compartmentalization of knowledge and learning which they are not used to. Before coming to school, their learning is all integrated with a clear social, cultural, geographical and economic context. They learn a language (and in many cases more than one language), learn to do basic calculations, learn about family, friends and other relationships, get trained in personal hygiene, follow rules while playing and experience a lot of science around them simultaneously without segmenting their learning into mutually exclusive parts.
The system requires parroting the contents of the textbooks and then throwing up in the examination which is tyrannical. This system blunts the children to ability to wonder, question, explore, enquire and create – the gift every child is born with. Their curiosity and questioning is snubbed and they are reduced to be mindless followers and conformists which also results into lack of social responsibility and tolerance.
Self-alienated children and youth who have low levels of achievement are a product of anti-people education and become a burden on the society.
Khoj-Society for Education rejects this model of education and has been working for education that is relevant, integrative, inspiring and creative.
The Program has been divided into three levels:
- Integrated Early Childhood Care and Development.
- Integrated Primary Education rooted in children’s real life situations.
- Integrated Elementary Education.
In order to make education truly responsive to the realities of life areas like health, nutrition, ecological agriculture, kitchen gardening, citizenship and environment are also addressed. Education through computers is to prepare them for the technology focused side of life as well.
Participatory action research with children –from three to fifteen years- has resulted in issue based teacher’s manuals, training handbooks and teaching and learning materials.
The following lines from an external evaluation in 2004 explain the outcomes:
The Khoj methodology “is a holistic approach to teaching and learning. Students engage in a wide range of diverse curriculum strands that are meaningful, relevant to their context and daily lives, and that are built on the assumption that the children’s potential to question, enquire, problem solving, to collaborate and challenge are essential components of a good education. Teachers are viewed as learners who co-construct meaning alongside students in classrooms and in the world beyond.
The evaluation further states, “The curriculum developed by khoj is a clear reflection of curriculum that is based on locally relevant content that enables learners to find meaning in every aspect of their lives. It is a way of thinking about teaching and learning. Curriculum is seen as integrated whole, learning in Urdu relates to learning about science and the practical activities in the agricultural plot. The Khoj methodology reflects the connectedness between subjects, the way in which children truly learn about their world and use quality active learning as a critical tool inside and the outside the classroom.”