INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR NASREEN M AHSAN, A RENOWNED EDUCATIONIST

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

May 30 - June 5, 2011

PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF?

PROF. NASREEN: I see myself as a lifelong learner and a committed professional who has grown professionally and personally in a fairly harmonious manner, balancing family, professional and social lives. As a teacher, I strongly believe in the power of sincerity, commitment and dedication, and an enquiring and open-minded to achieve better teaching-learning outcomes. Self-awareness and willingness to adapt and adopt technology and innovations are essential for teachers in the twenty-first century so as to engage with bright enquiring minds in and outside the classroom environments. I continually strive to achieve such a balance as a teacher, teacher educator, and lifelong learner. I have been an ELT practitioner, and later a teacher educator, for more than three decades in a variety of situations in both wings of Pakistan, as well as the Middle East where I received my first exposure to the Communicative Methodology, a methodology newly introduced in Pakistan at the English Language Unit of Aga Khan University, Karachi by KELT officers in 1985.

My overall experience has been enriched by working for public and private sector institutions teaching English for General Purposes (EGP), English for Academic Purposes (EAP), and English for Specific Purposes (ESP). My career span covers phases, and each successive phase has added to my repertoire of knowledge, skills, and abilities.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ABOUT VALUE OF DEGREE IN ENGLISH LITERATURE AND LINGUISTICS IN PAKISTAN?

PROF. NASREEN: I think, courses in English literature should be offered as both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. However, linguistics should be offered at postgraduate level, and should have a component of practicum that has specific credit hours.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ABOUT BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, IT, AND ENGINEERING EDUCATION?

PROF. NASREEN: There is always room for improvement in all courses. At present, in spite of HEC's initiative of quality assurance/enhancement, there is a range in the standards of professional and social sciences education. Critical thinking and reading skills, and reflective writing components should be introduced in the undergraduate programs in business administration, IT, and engineering/medical education.

PAGE: WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO PROVIDE QUALITY EDUCATION?

PROF. NASREEN: Ensuring quality in education at all levels is not an easy task; nonetheless, it can be achieved over time in a methodical manner with careful planning and implementation. However, policies that are made should incorporate aspects of sustainability.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON FUNDING FOR RESEARCH IN UNIVERSITIES?

PROF. NASREEN: Universities - both public and private sector - should promote a culture of research among their faculty members. There may perhaps be clear guidelines regarding protected time and resources dedicated to research activities, which in turn would mean accountability on the part of faculty members. The faculty members who have access to such facilities should produce some research papers and either publish them or present at conferences, thereby meeting one of Boyer's criteria regarding scholarly activities of university teachers.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ABOUT YOUTH OF PAKISTAN?

PROF. NASREEN: I think the Pakistani youths are bright and intelligent but very often misdirected/misguided. There should be career counselors in schools and colleges with accredited knowledge of educational psychology. Most teachers think that guiding young minds does not require expertise.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ABOUT USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION?

PROF. NASREEN: Greater awareness about harnessing of technology for education needs to be created. There should be workshops for this at every institution with some hands-on practice for the teachers. Most teachers are themselves not aware of plagiarism, and so cannot guide their students. Some teachers who attend workshops and seminars require their students to undertake project work, but the guidance and support given to the students is minimal. Students most often enroll in undergraduate programs in public sector institutions with little practical knowledge in comparison to their counterparts even in national elitist institutions. Many, otherwise very professionally competent, graduates passing out from public sector institutions are at a disadvantage because of their inadequate skills set. Teachers also need training in basic computer skills, as well as, in effectively using the good old blackboard/whiteboard.