Pakistan’s Madrasa Board Calls for Teacher Certification
Last month’s Update reported on the ICRD-sponsored trip to Egypt and Turkey by Pakistan’s National Madrasa Oversight Board (ITMP). As a result of this trip, the Board called for comprehensive training for all madrasa teachers that will lead to their eventual certification. To launch this national initiative, the ITMP selected for its initial pilot training effort 30 top madrasa faculty (six from each of the five sects) based on their influence, leadership skills, and expressed commitment to transferring knowledge and skills to others. Last month, ICRD provided this training during a seven-day program that focused on educational philosophy; contemporary teaching skills; critical thinking; teacher self-awareness; diverse perspectives and traditions; conflict resolution; and proven techniques for training others in these same skills. This ITMP-sponsored training represents yet another milestone enroute to the systemic enhancement of Pakistan’s religious schools.
Key to the progress to date has been the ownership of the madrasa leaders in the change process. Illustrative of their input is this introductory paragraph on teacher awareness training, which came from a madrasa leader:
“I have come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. My personal approach creates the climate. My daily mood makes the weather. As a teacher, I have a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it’s my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanised or dehumanised.”
Through ICRD’s work, such choices to inspire and heal the next generation of Pakistan’s leaders are multiplied a thousand times over.
Faith in Action
This year’s recipients of ICRD’s annual Faith-in-Action Award were ICRD Board member Shaista Mahmood and her husband Ray (Ambassador-at-Large for Pakistan) for their exceptional efforts in bridging religious differences and advancing human rights around the world. Retired General Ehsan Ul Haq, former Chair of Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and, before that, Director of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was the keynote speaker. He provided an insider’s perspective on Pakistan’s security situation and underlined the critical importance of ICRD’s madrasa enhancement initiative in bringing peace and stability to the region.
With best wishes,
Doug Johnston, President
International Center for Religion and Diplomacy