Empowering Educators - Teachers in Central Asia and the United Kingdom Collaborate
The Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) in Central Asia has partnered with the Aga Khan Education Board (AKEB) in the United Kingdom to develop a teacher collaboration programme which aims to enhance and enrich the pedagogical skills of AKES teachers
Today’s students, no matter where they live in the world, will need to solve problems that emerge on a global scale, from poverty alleviation, climate change and pandemics, to peace and security. But to do so, students need an education that is equally global in scope and delivered by educators who can think broadly about such challenges, use their knowledge to help students find innovative, cross-border solutions and draw connections to childrens’ lived realities.
To this end, the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) in Central Asia has partnered with the Aga Khan Education Board (AKEB) in the United Kingdom to develop a teacher collaboration programme which aims to enhance and enrich the pedagogical skills of AKES teachers. The programme is part of AKES’s continued efforts to strengthen teacher capacity and to ensure that students’ performance positions them for successful entry to top international tertiary education institutions.
Despite some contextual differences, teachers in each country recognise that they have much share. Sugra Alibhai, project lead of the AKEB UK team summed it up well when she said, “One of the most inspiring elements of this project is that it gives educators across different global regions the chance to come together and learn from each other. The challenges and joys of teaching and leadership in education are universal. It is a unique privilege to be able to meet and work with colleagues from AKES in Central Asia and understand more about their context and how they positively impact the lives of the students they serve.”
In a similar vein, Nafisa Gulshaeva, Head of Academics at AKES Central Asia observed: “The project is a unique opportunity for Tajik, Kyrgyz and UK educators to engage in sharing experiences and learning from one another. The active participation we have been observing in the training and the follow up component of the programme is a strong indicator of success of the programme for us.”
Since the commencement of the partnership in 2018, educators from the UK have supported teachers and school leaders from the Aga Khan Lycée in Khorog, Tajikistan, and the Aga Khan School in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Their primary focus has been the exchange of best practices in the teaching in mathematics and the sciences at the secondary level, as well as strengthening the instructional leadership skills and theoretical and practical knowledge of local educators.
Professional development has been conducted through formal face-to-face workshops in both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. To ensure the period spent together is targeted to teacher needs, considerable planning and sharing occurs on both sides, before the UK team arrives in Central Asia. After the in-country intensive, scheduled follow-up calls and online coaching and connections give time for new skills to be tried in classrooms and help consolidate what has been learnt in the workshops.
To date, over forty AKES teachers have been directly involved in the teacher collaboration initiative and they have, in turn, benefited over a thousand AKES students. The programme has also created a ripple effect beyond those teachers who have participated, to their colleagues who are keen to try out the new skills used by their team mates.
Reflecting on her experiences, Khudonazarova Nozanin, a science teacher at the Aga Khan Lycée in Khorog commented: “The training greatly expanded my understanding around diverse approaches to teaching sciences and how those approaches can be used to maximize opportunities for our students to learn practical science. In a way it was beautifully executed to bring together research and practice. I have learnt a lot, however there is still more to learn, practice, [and] reflect upon.”
In the face of COVID-19, and to ensure momentum isn’t lost, there are now plans to explore the feasibility of delivering similar workshops fully online in 2020.
Whilst the schools in Tajikistan are still in session, teachers in Kyrgyzstan - like many around the world during the global COVID-19 pandemic - are now employing online approaches to teach their students virtually. Teachers and students alike are embracing their new normal, as Zhannat Karasheva, aged 13, from the Aga Khan School in Osh, Kyrgyzstan commented about her experience of virtual learning: “Despite the challenges we face in a lockdown, we are so happy to be busy with remote learning and meeting virtually with our teachers and friends.”
The new tools and pedagogical approaches in mathematics and science, introduced in collaboration with the UK educators, have stood Osh teachers in good stead as they translate face-to-face lessons to learning that can happen at home. In our globally connected 21st century, educational innovations and best practices in one country can help to reset the bar for students around the world. Only by learning from one another can we be sure that all our students remain competitive and successful, even within the parameters of global challenges.
Author: Aliya Lavji
Photos (top to bottom):
UK and Central Asian educators at the Aga Khan School in Osh 2019
AKES teachers working on a group activity (pre COVID-19)
Professional Teachers Collaboration Programme with educators from the UK and Central Asia (2019)