Thrilled and excited to share this news from my mother, Zakia Sarwar, founder member of the Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers (SPELT), about the online course for teachers’ professional deveopment that was her sister, my khala ammi Dr Ruqaiya Hasan’s dream
PRESS RELEASE: 11 February 2017
Professional development online course for teachers in Pakistan kicks off
Project posthumously takes forward globally renowned linguist Dr Ruqaiya Hasan’s dream and intellectual legacy
KARACHI: The posthumous launch of an online course for Pakistani teachers designed by the internationally renowned linguist Dr Ruqaiya Hasan kicks off February 11, 2017, taught by Dr. Carmel Cloran, Dr. Hasan’s colleague and co-researcher from Macquarie University, Sydney Australia.
The course, especially designed for teachers in Pakistan, is titled Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics. The Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers (SPELT) has organised it along with the Association of Systemic Functional Linguistics, Australia (ASFLA) and the Halliday Centre for Intelligent Use of Languages, City University, Hong Kong.
SPELT volunteers in collaboration with Dr Hasan’s colleagues in Australia and Hong Kong have worked since Dr. Hasan’s demise in June 2015 in Sydney, Australia, to bring the project to fruition. Founded in 1984, the non-profit SPELT is Pakistan’s oldest teacher training organisation. The course will continue till October 21, 2017.
The unique structure of the online course designed by Dr Hasan involves the expert, Dr Cloran, conducting direct interactive lectures every three weeks to eight teachers selected as Key Learners. These Key Learners will in turn conduct group study sessions with 26 teachers selected as Group Learners, and discuss with Dr Cloran to ensure that the input has been understood.
Course participants are full time teachers in schools and universities who have enrolled for their professional development. Aside from a nominal charge of Rs 1000 for the entire nine-month course, the entire project is being done on a voluntary basis. The Halliday Centre in Hong Kong is hosting the web services at no cost, while Dr. Cloran is also voluntarily providing her expertise and time.
Born in India in 1931, Ruqaiya Hasan came to Pakistan in 1956. She did her Masters from Government College, Lahore and taught at Queen Mary College before going on for her post-doctoral studies and PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. A firm believer in social justice and freedom of expression, she is acknowledged as one of the world’s top linguists and leaves behind a widely respected intellectual legacy.
But for all her international acclaim and honours, Dr Hasan’s biggest dream was to help Pakistani teachers understand how language works, to enable them to teach more effectively.
“Inspired by your own Ruqaiya Hasan under the guiding hand of Dr Carmel Cloran, immerse yourselves in a greater understanding how language works to make meaning,” says ASFLA President Dr. Brian Dare in his message to the Pakistani course participants.
“For teachers, nothing could be more relevant and important to improving learning outcomes for students. Ruqaiya herself understood this very clearly, and now you are a part of her dream as you undertake the course”.
Ruqaiya Hasan’s Ravian classfellows, Muzzaffar Qureshi, Ikram Azam and M. Mufti have pooled resources to create an “Award of Excellence in the Field of SFL”, to be administered by SPELT, to honour the late professor and her seminal work. The award criteria will be worked by Pakistani and Australian experts in the field.
Update – message from Michael A. K. Halliday: “I am delighted to learn that the course in Linguistics worked out by Ruqaiya is being presented to a group of teachers of English in Pakistan. Ruqaiya was very committed to this project and would have been gratified to know that her work is being followed up in such a short time. She was always convinced that Pakistan could have a bright future, and that well-qualified educators were essential to its progress. This is an important venture and I wish it every success.”