ISLAMABAD: Equipped with intensive training in modern teaching techniques, many male and female teachers in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are set to change classroom environment and give education a significant boost in the tribal territory. Some 172 Pakistani teachers have returned from the United States after months of training at three universities under a programme funded by USAID. Most of them are to work in various parts of FATA and other remote areas in the country. The Academy for Educational Development (AED) sponsored the training programme, as part of ‘Pakistan Teacher Education and Professional Development Programme’. Selected from different institutions, the teachers studied at the George Mason University, the Fairfax Virginia University of Montana and Missoula and the Oregon State University. Designated as master teacher trainer, they are back to work at their parent institutions, using their laptop computers and newly gained knowledge. Five of them, four female and one male, have begun teaching at an elementary teachers’ training college in their native Jamrood Khyber Agency. Speaking about their experience in the US during an interview at their college, the five teachers pledged that they would do their best to improve the quality of education in FATA. Badar-e-Haram, who is vice principal of the Elementary Teachers’ Training College (Women) in Jamrood Khyber Agency, said, “We as master teacher trainers can improve the quality of education in the tribal areas.” Hina Qayyum said that she believed that corporeal punishment in schools must be eliminated and a congenial atmosphere be created there to make them attractive places for children. “Students should be involved in group discussion and cooperative learning. They should have a friendly environment where a teacher is like a friend and instructor,” she said. She said that she was confident that modern pedagogical techniques would have positive impact on students and they would learn better and develop their character and personality. Her colleague, Bibi Sakina, said that efforts by the master trainers would help fellow teachers in FATA to adopt right teaching methods. Another master trainer, Safia Kahtoon, said the skills learnt by them at the US universities would be greatly helpful in raising the standard of education in the area. “I am eager to make my contribution to the cause,” Saleh Shah, who got training at the George Mason University, said. He has introduced the ‘assignment method’ in his institution, which enables students to do away with rote learning. “I concentrate on activity-based teaching which is an easy way to get students more involved in studies,” he said. The students of the five master teacher trainers told the media that they were gaining a lot from new teaching techniques and they would be able to pass on the benefit to their pupils in schools. Khalida Adeeb Khanam, principal of Government College of Education for Elementary Teachers (Women) in Jamrood Khyber Agency, said she believed that the educational system could only be revolutionised through new teaching skills. “We should say good-bye to the traditional teaching style if we want to bring meaningful shift in the present educational system,” she said. To meet the shortage of female teaches in FATA, AED has also planned to give scholarships to 20 selected women from FATA for BEd. Each will be given Rs 5,000 for academic expenses. Abdul Rauf, the FATA Directorate of Education head, said no country could assume the entire responsibility of financing educational development. He said the AED teachers training and scholarship programme provided an excellent opportunity for FATA teachers to polish their skills, adding that training would bring about a positive change in the educational system. In the future, the AED will organise in-country training programme for teachers on the US model with the help of American experts at three leading Pakistani institutions, the National University of Modern Languages, the National Institute of Science and Technical Education and the Federal College of Education.