Sihala

The picture above depicts a typical school day at IMSG Upran Gohra, Sihala. Every morning, students sit outside in the dirt strewn school ground, and attend classes. It is a makeshift arrangement for faculty and students as the school building undergoes major renovations. Most of the classrooms have been stripped of furniture, broken windows are yet to be repaired, and the floors have been taken apart. Lack of classroom space, the inconvenience of changing room assignments and schedules, and the constant disturbance caused by ongoing construction have adversely impacted the daily school activities and the instructional process to a certain extent.

In October 2017, Knowledge Platform rolled out Learn Smart Classroom at IMSG Upran Gohra, one of seventy-five implementations of the Jazz Smart Schools programme in Islamabad. We had an opportunity to interview Ms. Rahila Malik, one of the most outstanding teachers of the Jazz Smart Schools project, and an experienced educator at IMSG Upran Gohra. Despite the ground realities prevalent in her school, Ms. Rahila has faced all obstacles with courage and determination, and strived to effectively integrate technology into her classroom pedagogy.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

“I have taught for 12 years, of which, the last 7 years have been spent working as a daily-wage teacher at IMSG Upran Gohra. Living close to school in a village called Chuchkal, it takes me half an hour to walk to school and back every day. Additionally, I hold academic degrees in Master of Arts (M.A.) and Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.).”

Do your students face any challenges in their studies?

“I teach General Mathematics to grade 10. Students of arts and humanities find mathematics a particularly challenging subject, so much so, that they are actually afraid of it.”

In what way did the Learn Smart Classroom affect students’ fear of mathematics?

“The videos were a useful resource, because they helped students to understand certain concepts I may not have explained so well. I advised my students to pay close attention to the video content, so that they could clarify their concepts.

“When I played the videos, my students’ facial expressions would change completely. They would observe the videos with growing attentiveness, and ask a number of questions at the end of each video session. They would also readily identify concepts they had trouble understanding in the videos.

“I always kept an extra board in the classroom, so that I could immediately pause the video when students required further clarification, and explain the concept to them in greater detail. My students’ assessment results improved significantly after watching the videos.”

What was the general attitude of the students during the assessments?

“My students were very energetic, enthusiastic, and eager to perform well in the assessments. They clapped and cheered each time they got an answer right. I made it a point to show them the feedback to every question so that they could understand why they made the mistake in the first place, and to ensure that they did not repeat the same mistake again.”

How would you describe this project in two words?

“Boht zabardast !”

What are your expectations from the Jazz Smart Schools project for the new academic year?

“With the help of the Jazz Smart Schools project, we have already made substantial progress. I have high expectations for the new academic year. The students have gained a better understanding of the system and how it affects their learning. I hope we can carry on with the same determination and become better teachers. It is for the sake of our students that we put in so much effort every day.”