Empowering teachers – 18 Jun 2022

THE idea of learning is as old as time itself, yet we struggle each day to empower teachers to develop the competencies and skills required to transform teaching and learning. Many teachers lament lack of opportunities for continuous growth, lack of empowerment, reward and recognition.

While their demands would be rational in an ideal world, they are not necessarily legitimate when there is a huge gap between the demonstration of skills and the call for empowerment, which involves decision-making, commitment to strategic aims and a vision.

How can empowerment occur in a vacuum where the competencies don`t match up to the demands of the educational institution? The answer may lie in addressing the huge gap between skills training and curriculum demands.

The story of empowerment is multilayered there can be no cake without the ingredients. We cannot see growth and progress in an environment wrought with deficiencies or functioning on the wrong ingredients. Once potential is unlocked and the necessary competencies are addressed, empowerment is the result. The story starts with enablement through building and optimising capabilities, setting up mechanisms for ongoing improvement and tracking measurable indicators to monitor impact. Ad hoc policies and bursts of intermittent effort to train teachers through INSET (in-service training) days cannot fulfil the requirements.

Unfortunately, delivering content without a vision or strategy, especially with funding limitations and a web of restrictions on teachers, cannot carry hope of empowerment which, in turn, limits the teachers` ability to enable students the ultimate stakeholders. A structured strategy is not just necessary but crucial to students` future. However, the journey may be a difficult one as we can`t really build a tower without laying the foundations. In our schooling system, that implies recognising those with competence and key talent, and customising teacher training modules to offer piecemeal services to teachers according to their needs.

There are mainly three quick and effective ways of empowering the faculty looking closely at their commitment through the metrics of `institution-building` measures.

What impact do they have on teaching and learning, on the reputation of the institute and how well do they address students`needs above and beyond their job description? While reward and recognition is a significant driver of motivation, there can be little commitment without empowerment.

It is tricky to measure the impact of empowering teachers as it has many facets.

The most obvious one is setting targets withshortand medium-term goals and monitor how teachers accomplish them. How well do they engage in setting the goals for themselves? How motivated are they to take responsibility for their students` learning? Another significant factor is their willingness and ability to upgrade their skills. Can they track their own learning and report the progress they have made in their performance? Another measure of empowerment is to look closely at the vertical growth within an institution and the percentage of teachers able to move into leadership roles over a fiveyear period. If opportunities are created with clear expectations, teachers will be able to step into more demanding roles seamlessly. For example, a primary school math teacher felt the need to engage more deeply in exchanging ideas through collaboration and, with the school management`s approval, set up a professional learning community involving primary teachers from multiple branches of the chain school. Initially, it functioned as an internal support group, and later, became massive in its scope, withteachers from other schools wishing to join and learn. Their digital outreach eventually enabled thousands of teachers to join the thriving learning community.

This is an example of how teachers can be leaders withoutbeing in a designated leadership role. With her vision, that teacher may have been singularly responsible for a culture of innovation that helped the growth and reputation of her school. School websites are usually wrought with the history, reputation and achievement of the students and testimonials by parents, but they rarely celebrate the successes of individual teachers. Acknowledging teachers` efforts publicly is essential to increasing motivation and commitment.

Teachers cannot always be great at every aspect of their work life. Some are great at motivating students, others are curriculum drivers while many may not be great teachers in the classroom but can provide fantastic pastoral care. Identifying individual strengths and leveraging them by distributing key responsibilities throughout the wider institution can build a strong teaching and learning environment.• The writer is senior manager, professional development, at Oxford University Press Pakistan, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


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Challenging hate – 18 Jun 2022

Racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, intolerance towards minorities from different communities have threatened peace, security and development of nations across the world. However, these attitudes have also been challenged throughout history.

Over the years, international human rights standards and laws and national policies, especially in democratic nations, have steadily moved towards anti-discriminatory principles. However, unfortunately, today we are witnessing a backslide. The kind of hate that was once confined to fringe movements is now resurfacing in the mainstream and threatening the human rights and democratic values on which modern states have been built.

Hate speech has been a part of life for everyone who is active on social media. While digital platforms are powerful tools for amplification of hate speech, it is the hatred itself that fuels this challenge. Globally, the rise of populist politics and return to exclusionist narratives shows that hate speech is only one manifestation of a much larger problem. But as far as manifestations go, hate speech has proved to be a potent one.

In India, hate campaigns laced with mal-information have been used to perpetuate violence against Muslims, resulting in various instances of mob violence. In Myanmar, fake accounts created by local authorities were used to spread hate and incite violence to such an extent that a UN fact-finding mission actually cited Facebook as the platform through which the genocide was incited. In the US itself, social media platforms were actively used by right-wing populists to incite hatred and violence leading to the attack on Capitol Hill in 2021.

As these incidents demonstrate, platforms like Facebook and Twitter and applications like WhatsApp have been weaponized in the hands of perpetrators who are further emboldened by the anonymity that the web offers. In essence, hateful and inciting speech is threatening social cohesion, promoting intolerance and creating real world harmful and violent impacts. That is to say: the impact of hate speech is not limited to targeted individuals and communities, rather it is affecting social and political stability at a larger level.

Amidst rising global concerns on the impact of hate speech on peace and development, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in July 2021 to highlight ‘concerns over “the exponential spread and proliferation of hate speech” around the world’. The resolution is focused on “promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech”. It also proclaimed June 18 to be marked as the International Day for Countering Hate Speech. Today, June 18, 2022 is the first time the International Day for Countering Hate Speech is being commemorated across the world. The UN has also launched a strategy and a plan of action on hate speech that aims to address the root causes and drivers of hate speech and ineffective responses to the impact of hate speech on societies. The action plan and strategy is a good starting point for local governments to start strategizing their own responses to this threat.

Unfortunately, policymakers in Pakistan do not appear to understand the complexity of this issue and all concerns on prevalence of hate speech have been met simply with suggestions to strengthen regressive regulations on online content. Focusing only on criminalization of hate speech, without giving due attention to the root causes and the political economy of hate, is a dangerous exercise. For example, coming up with a legal definition of hate speech that is nuanced enough to ensure that dissenting and critical voices are not targeted is a huge challenge.

Hate speech is also contextual; depending on the political situation and other factors, different things can lead to creation of discriminatory attitudes at different times. However, a law that allows for flexible interpretation of text is also a law that can be misused easily. In Pakistan’s historical context, misuse of laws regulating expression has been common – and, thus, any efforts to strengthen existing laws to curtail hate speech are met with criticism from all stakeholders.

In August 2020, a group of women journalists protesting against targeted hate speech asked political parties to create their own code of conduct to curtail hate speech by political workers attempting to silence women journalists. The statement released by the women journalists was acknowledged by the National Assembly’s human rights committee which invited them to give testimonials and evidence of hate speech faced. However, despite anecdotal and research based evidence presented, no formal commitments have been made by political parties as yet. In fact, time and again, the government has blamed journalists and civil society actors for the continuous rise in hate speech by saying that their concerns on punitive laws to regulate online content is the only reason they are unable to effectively counter hate speech and incitement to violence.

The UN action plan identifies various actions that do not rely on enacting new laws; monitoring and analyzing hate speech, addressing root causes, drivers and actors and finally engaging and supporting the victims of hate speech, engaging relevant actors, engaging new and traditional media and using technology to find solutions to misuse and abuse of the internet. These actions are listed for the UN itself but are easily adaptable by member states. The first International Day for Countering Hate Speech is a great opportunity for our government to make commitments to find holistic solutions that are not reliant simply on punitive laws.

The writer is a media and digital rights activist. Twitter: @nuqsh

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Thumbs-up from Berlin – 18 Jun 2022

In long-overdue good news, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in its plenary held in Berlin on Thursday has announced that Pakistan has completed its action plans covering 34 items, warranting a final on-site visit. It is expected that following the on-site visit, Pakistan can be removed from the grey list in the next plenary of the FATF expected to be held in October this year. Pakistan’s transition out of the grey list follows an arduous three-year long process during which a large number of laws, and regulations were enacted, in addition to streamlining of processes, and enhanced documentation across the country in order to eliminate any channels of funding which could support money laundering and terrorism financing.

A removal from the grey list would have implications, particularly in terms of sovereign risk. An exit from the grey list would demonstrate to multilaterals, investors, and international financial institutions alike that Pakistan has the necessary legal, and regulatory framework in place to safeguard effectively against risks associated with money laundering, and terrorism financing. This will provide an additional layer of comfort to international investors who often have to pay substantial penalties and fines in facilitation of any such prohibited transactions as identified by any of the regulators in various jurisdictions. Due to such a high compliance cost, investors prioritize and prefer to work only in jurisdictions where the necessary legal and regulatory framework is in place, in-line with recommendations of the FATF.

An improved sovereign risk profile would also assist in reducing the overall cost of borrowing for the country and support an improvement in credit rating of the country, once the overall macroeconomic situation stabilizes. Similarly, this will also reduce transaction costs that financial institutions based out of Pakistan have to bear while conducting transactions with international financial institutions. Similarly, insurance premiums associated with risk coverage of trade emanating from and to Pakistan would also reduce – the impact of which would be felt by businesses first, and then eventually consumers.

This is a step in the right direction – a silver lining among dark clouds which would also help in closing negotiations with the IMF on continuation of the stabilization programme. One also hopes that the legal and regulatory frameworks enacted would be followed in their true spirit, and there will be a gradual transition away from an informal economy. A formal economy has a much higher economic multiplier and serves interests of the population of the country in a much more robust manner – though Pakistan is not fully out of the grey list officially, as it is contingent on an on-site visit. A successful completion of the same would provide the necessary base for attracting foreign direct investment, which can kickstart investment-oriented growth. This provides the country with one of the pillars of a fresh slate. Followed with successful resumption of the stabilization programme of the IMF, the country will get yet another chance to make structural reforms and be on the path of sustainable, and responsible growth.

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Sex crimes on the rise in provincial capital – 18 Jun 2022

Police high ups review Gender-based Violence Cell’s performance

A large number of sexual assaults were reported in the provincial capital during the last week, prompting the police to review the overall performance of the Gender-Based Violence Cell.

On June 12, a man allegedly filmed and blackmailed an 11-year-old girl after an attempted rape in Liaqatabad.

The victim, a student went to a shop to buy books on June 5, when the suspect, who owned the shop, lured her to a secluded location where he allegedly attempted to rape the victim. He allegedly filmed the incident and after showing the video, demanded her to keep silent.

A week later, the suspect asked the girl to come back to the shop on Sunday, but the victim instead confided in her parents about the incident. They reported it to the police, who arrested the suspect and registered a case against him on Sunday.

On Saturday, a religious studies teacher was arrested for allegedly molesting a 13-year-old child in Ghaziabad. The suspect Hayyat was a madrassah teacher. When a 13-year-old child attended the madrassa, Hayyat allegedly molested him. The victim told his parents about the assault, whom reported it to police. Hayyat was arrested and booked.

On Thursday, a 10-year-old girl and a 20-year-old maid were raped. The 20-year-old victim was employed as domestic help at the house of Hasham, within Defence-B police limits, for the last three months. Afsar Shah, a driver employed at a neighbouring house, allegedly raped the victim. Police arrested the suspect and registered a case against him.

Separately, a man identified as Raheel allegedly raped a 10-year-old girl in Batapur. Reportedly, the suspect was the victim’s neighbor and it was routine for the victim and the suspect’s family to visit each other’s houses. On the day of the incident when the victim went to his house, he allegedly raped her. When the victim’s family reported the incident to police, the suspect his family members went into hiding.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, a suspect was arrested for allegedly raping a minor boy on the roof of a mosque in Nawan Kot. The suspect Faizan lured the victim to the rooftop when the prayer congregation commenced. He allegedly threatened the victim before he raped him.

On the same day, a suspect was arrested for raping and blackmailing a girl over marriage promises in Ghalib Market. The victim alleged that one of the suspects, Faisal Abbas, had entered a relationship with her, making promises of marriage. He allegedly shot videos and pictures of intimate moments with her. The suspect allegedly blackmailed the victim using the video and would coerce her for physical favours and money. Police arrested the suspect and registered a case against him.

The alarming frequency of these incidents prompted a review of the GBV (Gender-based Violence) Cell on Thursday. A meeting was chaired by Capital City Police Officer Lahore (CCPO) DIG Bilal Siddique Kamyana at City Police Headquarters, attended by SP CRO Zohaib Nasrullah Ranjha, Focal Person GBV Cell Inspector Fiza, all divisional In-charges, Investigation Officers and other relevant officers.

DIG Kamyana reviewed the overall performance of the GBV Cell and reprimanded the in-charges for poor performance and delays in under-investigation cases of rape.

He directed GBV Cell officers to improve their performance and warned that strict action would be taken if there no significant improvement was observed. Kamyana further directed the officers to complete investigating gang-rape cases immediately. The CCPO directed not to arrest the nominated accused if they were proven innocent and to discharge cases in case of no offense. He added that incidents of rape, harassment, violence and abuse against women are a disgrace to society and unaccepatble and Lahore police condemns all forms of abuse and violence against women.

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IHC assails govt for ignoring order on missing persons – 18 Jun 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Friday assailed the federal government for not implementing its directive for recovery of missing persons and warned that the court could summon the chief executive of the country for explanation.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the warning during the hearing of identical petitions seeking recovery of missing persons.

The court directed Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Khawaja Imtiaz to read out its May 25 order.

The DAG said that in compliance with the court`s order a committee had been constituted for the recovery of missing persons, adding that the federal minister for law and justice was also amember of the committee.

Reading out the May 25 order, Mr Imtiaz said the court had directed the federal government to serve notices on former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and all successive chief executives, including Imran Khan and incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, for following an `undeclared tacit approval of the policy regarding enforced disappearances`.

`Pervez Musharraf has candidly conceded in his autobiography, In the Line of Fire, that `enforced disappearance` was an undeclared policy of the state, the order said.

`The onus is on each chief executive to rebut the presumption and to explain why they may not be tried for the offence of high treason,` it added.

Justice Minallah reminded that the court order had asl(ed the previous and incumbent interior ministers to appear before it if the directives were not complied with.

He then asked the DAG why the interior ministers did not attend the court pro-ceedings. He also sought affidavits from the interior ministers on the persons who went missing in their respective tenures.

Advocate retried Col Inamur Rahim said the court order was self-explanatory; however, the missing persons` issue was not being given the due coverage in the media.

He suggested that the court issue a show-cause notice to the federal government.

Amina Masood Janjua, chairperson of NGO Defence of Human Rights, informed the court that the government had never compensated the family of any missing person.

She insisted that the country`s chief executive might be summoned in person.

She said as many as 400 persons, who were in the category of missing persons, had been transferred to Central Jail in Peshawar.

She requested the court to direct the committee constituted on missing persons to give her right of audience.

The court adjourned further hearing till July 4.

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Acid attack by `muggers` leaves woman cop, brother burnt – 18 Jun 2022

KARACHI: A woman police constable and her brother suffered burn injuries when unknown persons threw acid on them in the Gulzar-i-Hijri area on Friday, police said.

Sohrab Goth DSP Nasir Bukhari said at around 10:00pm, policewoman Gulzara Mushtaq, 25, was on her way with her brother Rizwan, 22, on a motorbike to perform duty at the Sohrab Goth police station when two unknown persons, also riding a motorcycle, snatched her purse containing her cell phone, cash and other valuables.

He said while riding away they threw acid on the woman and her brother.

As a result, Rizwan suffered burns in the abdomen while her sister received burns on the face, hands,legs and other parts of body.

They were taken to the Burns Centre of the Civil Hospital Karachi, where doctors said that the woman and her brother suffered six per cent and 12pc burns, respectively.

Later, the Sachal police registered a case on the complaint of wounded Rizwan under Sections 336-B (punishment for hurt by corrosive substance), 324 (attempted murder), 382 (theft after preparation made for causing death, hurt or restraint in order to the committing of the theft), 109 (abetment), 34 (common intention) read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.

The complainant said he was a polio worker in Lasi Goth. He said the suspects appeared to be Afghans.

The DSP said they were invesugadng the case to ascertain the motive of the attackers. He said usually, muggers did not attack people with acid.

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Another boy ‘sexually assaulted’ by seminary teacher – 18 Jun 2022

TAXILA: While Attock police are on their toes to arrest a teacher over the alleged rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl, another 12-year-old boy was sexually assaulted, allegedly by his seminary teacher.

The victim was taken to Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital where a medical examination revealed that the boy had been sexually assaulted. Police, on the complaint of the victim’s father, registered a case.

Sub-Divisional Police Officer Malik Naeem Iqbal said the main suspect was arrested and he confessed to having committed the crime.

Meanwhile, the father of the girl who was recently murdered after being raped has asked the police to arrest the main suspect as soon as possible.

He was addressing a press conference on Friday after Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz cancelled his visit to see the family for the third time.

Expressing his anger and grief over the cancellation of the visit, he said the district administration prepared his family for the visit and after long hours, they were informed that Mr Shehbaz would not be able to make it.

For the third time, a curfew-like situation prevailed in the town as all markets and shops were closed and public movement was restricted, he said, adding that the family and residents of the area have shown maximum restraint and their patience should not be tested.

Later, residents of the area blocked Rawalpindi-Peshawar G.T. Road to protest police’s failure to arrest the suspect.

Protesters were of the view that the main suspect should be presented in court so that his trial may be initiated. Later, District Police Officer Umar Salamat along with Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Zulqarnain reached the protest site to calm down the protesters.

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Abducted teenage girl recovered – 18 Jun 2022

TAXILA: The Attock police on Friday recovered a 14-year-old girl and arrested two abductors, natives of Nowshera.

The girl along with her mother, brother and nephew went to the tomb of a local saintfor offering prayers where she was abducted her and were being shifted to Jehangera when police intercepted the abductors and recovered the girl safely.

Two abductors were arrested while weapons utilised in the crime were also recovered from their possession.

Police sent the accused behind the bars af ter registration of a case against them.

Meanwhile, a teenage girl was abducted in the limits of Wah Saddar police station on Friday.

Nazar Hussain Shah reported to police that his daughter was going to some work when unknown persons abducted her.

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Five kidnap girl after torturing her brother – 18 Jun 2022

LAHORE: Five unidentified armed men allegedly tortured a young man and kidnapped his teenage sister when he was going to drop her at her workplace in Hanjarwal area here on Friday.

The incident got attention of police and the public when a footage of the girl`s kidnap and torture of her brother went viral on social media.

The footage, recorded with a mobile phone camera by one of the kidnappers, showed the suspects badlythrashing and abusing the youth, later identified as Nauman, as his sister watches helplessly.

The police said the crime was committed near Hanjarwal from where the suspects kidnapped the girl at gunpoint.

The youth informed his mother about the incident who called the police and submitted a complaint against the suspects.

A police official said initial investigation revealed the girl was a housemaid and his brother was going to Idrop her at her workplace when she was kidnapped by the armed men.

He said the police lodged a 1(idnap and torture case against the suspects and dispatched a team that arrested the prime suspect, Afzaal, in a raid on a house.

The policeinvestigatorsareinterrogating the suspect to get information about his accomplices and arrest them, he said, hoping the girl would be recovered soon as the police have `reached close` to the kidnappers` network. Staff Reporter

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Murderer, who raped and killed 10-year-old, still at large – 18 Jun 2022

Qari Muhammad Ikram, a local religious cleric and the main accused in the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl in the Faqeerabad area of Attock, is still at large as police have failed to arrest the suspect even after six days of the harrowing incident.

The police have nominated the cleric, who hailed from Kohat, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, in the FIR on a complaint of the victim’s father but he has fled the area and went into hiding.

Despite the nomination of the accused in the FIR, the police have failed to arrest the suspect. Relatives of the victim, who was raped and murdered on June 13, said that the accused has reached his native town and gone into hiding due to the laxity of police.

The accused has locked his place before disappearing after committing the rape and murder. On the night between June 13 and 14, the girl’s body was found in a cemetery in Faqirabad. On the complaint of the victim’s father, police had registered a case of rape, murder and torture against Qari Muhammad Ikram.

As soon as the incident came to light, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz took notice of the incident and ordered local police to arrest the accused immediately. The Punjab chief minister was scheduled to reach Attock to offer condolence to the family of the deceased but the visit was postponed due to inclement weather.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the police have not been able to arrest the accused while geo-fencing of the area has been completed. The girl’s autopsy report has not yet been received. Three police teams have been formed to trace the accused.

The Punjab Forensic Laboratory team comprising experts also visited the crime scene and collected vital evidence. According to the sources, the accused’s mobile phone is switched off since June 13. The sources said that the police teams also questioned close friends of the accused but have so far failed to trace him.

At the request of the Attock police, Kohat police also raided the house of the accused but no headway could be made concerning the arrest of the suspect.

A police spokesman said that the police investigation is progressing very fast and a breakthrough is expected very soon. As it is a high-profile case, all senior officers are closely monitoring the case, he said.

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