Q1. Can you please enlighten us about your tremendous educational journey for the readers of informal magazine?
I am Syeda Asmat Zahra. I earned my master’s degree in School Administration from Beaconhouse National University with distinction (Gold Medal). I also completed master’s degree in Public Administration specialized in Human Resource Management from The University of the Punjab.
My fields of specialization are Montessori Training, Early Childhood Education, Leadership and Management. I have undertaken vast and varied roles in the uplift of educational standards in Pakistan. I was formerly the Dean of Academics at ‘The Spirit School’ (A Project of Superior Group of Colleges) and Director Schools at ‘The Savvy School’ (A Project of Aspire Group of Colleges). I also enjoy a unique reputation as a social worker and master trainer at the ‘Lions Trainers Club’. I also served as the coordinator IT for Beaconhouse School System for more than 10 years.
I have been the CEO of Global Montessori Coaching Institute since 2014. I have been enlightening the education sector of Pakistan for more than 25 years with unparalleled scholastic talent, intellectual brilliance, and exceptional managerial skills. I possess an outstanding knowledge, vast experience and functional competency in Childhood Education, Montessori as well as School Management at every level.
Q2. What is “Education” all about? Is it a need or a luxury?
The word “education” has a deeper meaning and a broader connotation. It’s not merely to be running after grades, but to embrace real learning. It’s not merely to be honest, but to love honesty. It’s not merely to be true, but to hunger and thirst after truth. It’s not merely to pass out various academic levels, but to reflect upon the changes and implement the behavioral developments to our personalities.
Education is not a luxury although some sectors of our society are trying to turn it into one. It is a need which we should fulfill, it is an investment in your future. To have a secure future and decent life, you need to be educated enough to know the difference between right and wrong, what’s good and what’s not.
Q3. What is the significance of Early Childhood Care and Education in the modern world?
A child is an uncut diamond, which can put into any design by a teacher. The design is highly affected by the techniques and skills that a teacher possesses. Therefore, the teacher should handle the child with utmost care to enable him/her for greater meaning and purpose of life. Among the stages of human life, early childhood stage is a crucial from the point of view of rapid hormonal developments that shape up the mind. At this stage a child needs utmost love and care from parents as well as the people surrounding him.
ECCE aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. These formative early years necessarily require a mixture of care and education for children, with close support by parents, families, other caregivers, and broader communities. It constitutes both a significant and meaningful stage itself and impacts the realization of other human rights throughout a person’s lifetime. It is a mandatory requirement of the modern world as ECCE has the possibility to nurture caring, capable and responsible future citizens.
Q4. Please tell us about your Global Montessori Coaching Institute.
I established it in 2014 with a vision to provide quality professional development diploma and certificate programs in Montessori Teacher Training, School Management, Spoken English and Early Childhood Education among others to all genders alike.
Our mission is to work for a greater and prosperous Pakistan by enabling individuals to work for the betterment of the community as educationists. Almighty has blessed our students with great success within a short time. The employment rate of our students is near to 100%
Q5. Can you please tell us about Single National Curriculum (SNC) system according to your point of view?
The lack of compatibility in the education system has created large gaps between teaching and learning. That’s why social inequality has been observed in the Pakistani society. The Pakistani school system is divided into three main systems: The public or government schools, the Private schools, and the Madrassas (the religious schools). The education being disseminated in these three systems has huge disparity which creates the great divide between the children being educated from these schools. The main reason to implement the SNC was to close this insurmountable chasm between the three types of systems.
It’s a step of the current regime to provide a single system of education for all factions of the society, to eradicate inequality and class difference is the step which requires all the provincial governments to implement a common system for education in terms of curriculum, medium of instruction and a common platform for assessment so that all children around the country have a fair and objective opportunities to be able to receive high quality education.
It’s doubtlessly a good initiative taken by the current government but whether it will actually be implemented as single and national is yet to be seen as Sindh has already rejected it. Provided its implementation is successful then in my humble opinion this standard education policy can be a major breakthrough in the education system of Pakistan.
Q6. Pandemic has changed the education system. Can you give us any suggestions by which educational institutes can uplift the education system?
First and foremost, rather than preparing the child for school, we should focus on preparing the school for the child. It is the need of the hour for the schools to have contingent policies and multiple action plans in case of closure. Also, school needs to switch their attention towards educating and training their teachers in all the online teaching portals so that they can teach effectively.
The disruption created by this pandemic presents an opportunity to imagine a different future for our kids, their families, and their communities. In Pakistan, we can create a future where we give every student a fair chance to succeed in life, with equal participation in the school system and access to resources.
How? Redesign the school curriculum. We must ask school administrations to support teachers by giving them more time to develop new lessons, design online learning methods and add distant learning portals to their curriculums.
Q7. Being an educationist can you please highlight the problems which students mostly face?
The biggest issue that most of the students have encountered is exam phobia. They start having anxiety and panic attacks due to which they are unable to recall even the content which they have learnt by heart. This is one thing they need to overcome. Time management is another problem that they face in which parents need to play a major role and set a suitable time table for them. Sometimes family expectation can also become a challenge for the students if parents are too demanding or pushy. We need to educate the parents also in this regard.
Q8. Any message for the readers of “Informal” magazine?
It takes a big heart to shape little minds. I would like to reiterate here to all the aspiring educationists and readers in general that imagine with all your mind, believe with all your heart and you will be able to achieve with all your might. Facilitate and encourage the weak ones, support struggle and cultivate dreams. Always remember, team work makes dream work.