16 Jan 2017 - 18:54
Pakistan International School (PIS) has incorporated educational trips as the school’s annual spectrum. Keeping in view, the administration of PIS arranged a field trip to Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) for students.
18 Jan 2017 - 10:37
Dedication and innovation are the tools with which the mission of imparting quality education is being accomplished. A school launched just seven years back has four branches today and the institution is leaving marks of distinctive success on the private education sector of Qatar.
“We are transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom,” says Riyaz Amed Bakali, Founder Director The Next Generation School; generally branded as ‘TNG’. The first branch of TNG was established in 2009 to accommodate growing population of Pakistani expatriates but today students from as many as 22 nationalities are studying in the school on two grounds: adoption of British curriculum instead of Pakistani one and innovation-supported quality education.
Teaching or learning?
“We believe in Effective Learning Environment and learning is the real essence of our education-model,” says Bakali. The school has introduced a highly effective learning environment in which students are not taught educational topics rather they learn them with active participation and purposeful engagement. First of all, aims and objectives of a particular academic topic are defined then these objectives are achieved with meticulous lesson-planning, resource allocation and implementation.
“We have moved from passive teaching methods to participatory teaching methods. Lectures and reading ensure but poor knowledge retention rates therefore we have opted for group-discussions and practice-by-doing methods,” says Bakali.
The true reflection
Even after employing participatory teaching methods, an assessment exercise is done with the help of uniquely-designed ‘Student Reflection Sheet’. All students at the end of every academic topic are provided with this sheet having around a dozen questions to measure their level of clarity on the subject.
“All children are not equal. They represent various groups; low achievers, middle achievers, high achievers, gifted and special. Some students are solo learners while others learn fast in a group. Student Reflection Sheets help teachers in employing various other tools related to differentiated learning,” says the TNG director. He said TNG had introduced the technique to continue assessing students throughout the year and not only at the time of annual exams.
Talking on effective learning environment Alia Rizvi, TNG Vice-Principal, Academic Excellence, said that they were trying to make ‘our children life-long learners.’ The children, Rizvi noted, should enjoy learning and ‘it is TNG’s target’.
Teaching the teachers
Sadia Sohail, Vice-Principal, TNG Al Wakra branch, said that before going to fully implement effective learning techniques, the school had passed all the teachers through extensive training. “We taught the faculty how and why to adopt student-centred approach and about its benefits,” she said, adding that Effective Learning Environment had also revived a fading teacher-student relationship.
Why British curriculum? Responding to the question about the factors behind choosing British curriculum for TNG instead of Pakistani board, Bakali said: “In Pakistan too, the number of private schools adopting British curriculum is rising with the passage of time.” But, he said, TNG’s curriculum was unique.
“We are also teaching Urdu.” He said that the TNG had ‘Holy Quran Teaching’ classes as well as had adopted an Islamic course designed in South Africa for its students’ character building.
The second mile
As TNG’s teaches more than that mandatory under the British curriculum like Urdu, Holy Quran teaching, soft skills; Shagufta Bakali, CEO TNG School told The Peninsula that they had extended their school hours. “But it has never been an extra pressure on students as these classes are conducted in a very soft, interactive way.”
“A lesson on skills development lasts for 50 minutes where children learn soft skills, sports at the one hand and on the other find the opportunity to spend time with their teachers in a friendly environment that further cements their relationship of respect,” she added.
Riyaz Bakali said that TNG Al Wakra branch had been awarded Preparatory School status by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. “It means we have classes up to Grade 9 and I am confident we will soon get Secondary School status and will be offering A-Level,” said Riyaz Bakali.
TNG’s other three branches include: The Next Generation Kindergarten and Primary School Nauija, The Next Generation Kindergarten and Primary School Ain Khalid and The Next Generation Kindergarten Al Wukair.
Bakali said that as part of school’s efforts to make its students fit for Cambridge board exams, they had adopted Young Learners English (starters, movers, flyers) tests. “To assess TNG’s education standards, Ministry of Education and Higher Education also conducts random exams of any class of TNG selected by it,” he added. He said that TNG had successfully passed Qatar National School Accreditation (QNSA) Stage 1.
Among others, Bakali said, preparing leaders, producing self-learners, strengthening teacher-student relationship and promoting research were the main academic strategy elements of TNG.
He said that TNG had also replaced notebooks with class-work sheets making the whole process easy-to-handle for teachers. “Some schools have replaced them with personal digital assistants (PDAs) but we wanted to keep pen-paper relationship alive. Innovation not at the cost of tradition,” he said further saying: “Fortune favours the learner.”
TNG Middle School was among the winners of 2016 Qatar National Robot Olympiad. “It was a testament to our quality education,” said Bakali further saying that TNG’s soft-skills classes were its distinction. “In these classes, key competencies and traits like integrity, communication, courtesy, responsibility, professionalism, flexibility, and teamwork are taught to students to make them for practical, professional life to be started after school years.”
“The basis of TNG is not just normal education. We have embedded soft skills into our educational model. We want to teach students how to communicate effectively, how to build a team, how to do time management, how to resolve problems, how to make decisions and all these things are nothing but soft skills,” said Bakali.
Bakali said that at TNG, they used to hold faculty as an integral part of the school. “Teacher is the leader therefore a teacher must be a source of inspiration for their students.”
The school employs different strategies to continuously improve the quality of their faculty. They have hired training partners and established training programmes, both technical and non-technical, for the faculty. “We believe that if we need to improve we need to train our faculty with latest trends,” said Bakali. Career counselling of the students, he added, was one of aspect that they took very seriously at the school.