The LUMS Syed Ahsan Ali and Syed Maratib Ali School of Education (SOE) conducted a 9-day virtual Orientation session to welcome its third batch of MPhil Education Leadership and Management (ELM). Spread across three weeks from August 17, 2020 – September 3, 2020, the Orientation was designed to help the incoming class smoothly transition into the life of graduate studies and an online semester.
The sessions aimed to familiarise the incoming cohort with LUMS and SOE, while simultaneously trying to build a sense of community over the online platform. In order to integrate the new cohort with the seniors, faculty, and staff, 15 orientation leaders were chosen from the 2021 batch, and each of them guided 3 incoming students. These orientation leaders also held an ice-breaking session for the Batch of 2022, where they were given a virtual tour of SOE, and also played fun games to know each other better.
The orientation included an overview of the MPhil courses offered in the Fall semester, introduction of SOE and different administrative departments, guidelines to use online academic platforms, casual sessions with faculty over Zoom, and a workshop based on the book, Immunity to Change.
The students engaged with each other in groups and with faculty members to discuss the premises and binary themes of Immunity to Change, which was sent to the students prior to the event. This discussion was moderated by Dr. Mariam Chughtai, Assistant Professor, SOE and started the learning process and initiated the intellectual journey of pursuing the MPhil ELM degree.
The course content for MPhil ELM was also discussed, where students were told that the course comprises of a study on interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives on education, leadership and management in the education sector, along with a focus on qualitative and quantitative research methods. The programme is designed to allow students to integrate with each other and understand the various dynamics involved in ensuring excellence in the education sector of Pakistan and beyond.
SOE also upheld its tradition of educating its incoming batch on various LUMS policies. Ms. Angbeen Atif Mirza, Director Office of Accessibility and Inclusion, gave a session on sexual harassment policies at LUMS. SOE also arranged a detailed session for students with Dr. Adnan Khan, Dean Office of Student Affairs, to discuss various academic and extra-curricular facilities provided by LUMS. He also talked to the students about campus life and the various facilities available to them. Moreover, an information session was also held by Mr. Waris Ali Arslan from the library, Ms. Ayesha Zia from the Registrar’s Office, Mr. Tariq Ahmed Sheikh and Ms. Afshan Amin from the Information Systems & Technology Department.
The session also included a panel consisting of second year students Maira Shahzad and Suniya Aizaz, and Alumni, Sundus Khalid and Adil Sattar. The senior students and alumni briefed the upcoming batch on student life, curriculum, online learning, practicum, post-graduation life and jobs. They shared their personal interests and spoke about the SOE community, challenges and opportunities. They also informed the upcoming batch on the facilitation provided by SOE on the academic and non-academic journey of MPhil students. The session was followed by an interactive Q&A session where the incoming students shared their queries and reservations with the current students and alumni. The practical advice shared was greatly appreciated by the new class.
On the last day, September 3, 2020, Dr. Arshad Ahmad welcomed the new MPhil ELM cohort, highlighting the need for more people to work in the education sector. In his address, he focused on SOE leading in terms of innovation and pedagogy. He said, "SOE leads all other schools in terms of initiative, pedagogy, in-house training and inter-disciplinary attitude. It is your time to take control of your learning with the faculty here who can accelerate your growth. As SOE becomes synonymous with excellence, reflected in its academic and experiential components, your instructors will take you towards the threshold of new knowledge and invite you as true partners in the academic enterprise”
A panel discussion was also held and was moderated by Dr. Faisal Bari, Interim Dean, SOE. The panel included Syed Babar Ali, Founding Pro Chancellor of LUMS; Mr. Osman Khalid Waheed, Member, Management Committee and Mr. Shahid Hussain, Rector LUMS. Talking about avenues to be explored in this pandemic, Dr. Faisal Bari said, "While there are many challenges presented by the pandemic, there are many opportunities to think about learning. This cohort has arrived when various avenues are being explored and they will be able to learn from that."
Syed Babar Ali also addressed several questions during the panel discussion about learning, ethics, self-growth and Pakistan’s education sector. While addressing the students, Syed Babar Ali said, "Your devotion, learning and competence will never end with the MPhil ELM degree. It is a life-long commitment to not only improving yourself but helping others improve." He also shared his vision for SOE with the incoming students and said, “SOE was not developed to train teachers but to develop leaders who will make a difference in the education landscape in Pakistan whether in curriculum, policy or pedagogy. You will be pioneers of bringing new ideas into education.”
Talking about the importance of education, Mr. Osman Waheed said, "The School of Education best embodies the ethos of LUMS. If you want to impact true change in Pakistan, then there is no challenge deeper than that of education." Mr. Shahid Hussain also added to this and said, "The idea of MPhil ELM programme is that you understand what education is, its significance and its execution, whether at a local, provincial or national level."
The keynote address by guest speaker, Dr. Tahir Andrabi, Inaugural Dean SOE, focused on inculcating the values of innovation amongst students and to deal with the challenges of the post-pandemic world. "1.5 billion kids are out of school for six months during this pandemic worldwide. This creates 2 things – tremendous learning losses and learning inequality. This is the problem your class has to face. You have the horizon to deal with this problem."
Talking about how to move forward once schools open, he said, "We got to move in the direction of formative assessments and take teachers on board. We can focus on assessments, and take our own version of differentiated instructions at different levels."
The orientation proved to be a great success as the students were equipped with necessary information for their graduate life. The inspiring talks were also beneficial in understanding the context in which the education sector in Pakistan is operating and how the MPhil ELM programme bridges the gap between policy and practice.