The teaching profession is generally for its decline in professionalism. Examine the situation with particular reference to open and distance learning system and teacher education in Pakistan?


This study focuses on teaching professionalism with special reference to its feminization debate. Professionalism and professional development of teachers is an important discussion to unpack perspectives as to its definition in order to understand the entry points of professionalism and its
feminization arguments. Furthermore, this research contains a discussion and analysis regarding the factors that influenced the shaping of the teaching profession and professional development in Pakistan and the theories behind the present concept of feminization of teaching professionals in the social set-up.

There are many hypotheses involved in the creation of teaching professionalism in Pakistan however for the purpose of this study only historical, political, religious, and socio-cultural factors of teaching professionalism are evaluated. The study concludes that the British colonized education molded the professional development of teachers towards English education, religion, and socio-culture forces played a pivotal role in its feminization context while it is the most respectable and desirable profession for women nevertheless the last choice for merit-worthy capable people due to lack of standards and credibility of educational provision and low-level of training skills; uneven practices of recruitment and promotions and low salaries packages.

People especially governments, do want teachers to change. For this purpose in most of the countries, the government places emphasis on teacher training and their professional well-being. Teaching today is a complex work, requiring the highest standards of professional practice to
perform it well. It is the core profession and the key agent of change in today’s knowledge society. So, what is Professionalism? or what is the meaning of professionalism and professionals? If we look at traditional theories of professions have characterized them in the ‘trait’ term. ‘Trait theories define a profession by a number of features, such as their foundation on a mission of service; the requirement to use a specific and definable body of knowledge; and the regulation of entry to the
professional group by a professional body. Professionalism or professionals defined and redefined through the continuous struggle between and within different occupational groups.

Hence the values and attributes of professionals are fluid and subject to change and struggle. In short, professionalism is shifting rather than a concrete phenomenon (Hanlon, 1998: 47). Despite the widespread use of term professionalism, the concept of ‘professional’ and professionalism remains very contested in our society. Hoyle and John have recommended, debates around the notion of what it means to be a professional focus on issues – knowledge, autonomy, and responsibility. Moreover, they suggest that, despite many recent challenges in relation to teachers’ professionalism, these three issues remain important to consider.

Their significance can be illustrated by examining a traditional conception of professionalism. The idea that an occupational group such as lawyers, doctors, or teachers have a specialized body of knowledge is central to any traditional definition of professionalism. Professionals are seen to base their practice on a body of technical or specialist knowledge that is beyond the reach of laypeople. Hoyle and John further argue that traditionally this knowledge is seen as having two component parts; first it has been tested by the scientific method, thereby acquiring validity; second, it is supported by a variety of the theoretical models and case descriptions which allow it to be applied in specific cases.

It is because professionals need to develop this body of ‘knowledge –
based skills’ that they need long periods of training, significant parts of which need to go on within higher education. Professionals, through specialist and usually long periods of training, are taught to understand this research-validated knowledge and to apply it constructively and intelligently according to the technical rules governing the conduct of the profession. This means that the professionals utilize a specialist body of knowledge which is the argument for autonomy because professionals are seen as working in the complex and unpredictable situation; As professionals work in uncertain situations in which judgment is more important than routine, it is essential to effective practice that they should be sufficiently free from bureaucratic and political constraint to act on judgments made in the best interests (as they see them) of the client.

The three concepts of knowledge, autonomy and responsibility, central to a traditional notion of professionalism, are often seen as closely interrelated. As said earlier it is because professionals face complex and unpredictable situations that they need a specialized body of knowledge, if they are to apply that knowledge, t is argued that they need the autonomy to make their own judgements. Given that they have that autonomy, it is essential that they act with responsibility – collectively they need to develop appropriate professional values.

This may seem disheartening, but some positive statistics also came out of the report. One of the most popular reasons (75%) for joining teaching was a desire to make a difference, and 80% said they taught because they enjoyed working with children. Contrary to popular belief, just below
20% went into teaching because of the long holidays. We look at these statistics in a bit more detail.

Heavy workloads

This was the most cited reason for considering leaving teaching; of those who had had second thoughts, 76% claimed it’s the amount of work that’s the problem. It was also a popular choice for why people didn’t like teaching: 87% said the workload was the worst part of the job. A further 53% said that they felt they had insufficient time to reflect on their practice and 31% complained about report writing. When asked about work-life balance, 79% of young recruits felt they didn’t have this quite right – with 46% working an average of six to 10 hours over the weekend. A worrying 81% of teachers said that they do not have enough time to participate in hobbies and 80% do not get enough time to relax. An improvement in work-life balance would involve “less unnecessary paperwork”, the survey found.

Teacher bashing in the press

This was the second most popular reason given for thinking about quitting. This follows an OECD report released last year which found that two-thirds of teachers felt undervalued. Although teachers in the UK were above average in feeling valued, at 35% (unlike France where the figure was only 5%), they still fared quite poorly. A trainee in his third year at a primary school in Bedfordshire said: “Teachers feel undermined and unappreciated.”

Constant changes

A quarter of respondents said “attacks on teachers’ terms and conditions” was another reason they had thought about leaving. The last five to 10 years have seen a great number of changes in quick succession. There’s been a dramatic change to the curriculum, changes to pay structures, and GCSE and A-level reform. When asked what they wanted from the government, new teachers called for meaningful consultation and for reform to be taken more slowly.

Challenging student behavior

About 25% said difficult behaviour made them consider leaving teaching. When asked what would have a positive impact on their teaching, 83% said that they wanted more time to plan and prepare and 42% required mentoring or coaching from experienced colleagues. This comes alongside criticism for low-level disruption with an Ofsted report published last year saying that teachers are not doing enough to tackle unruly behaviour. The inspectorate found that students are losing up to an hour of learning each day in English schools because of bad behaviour.


This didn’t come up in the top reasons for quitting but it wasn’t an option in the survey. However, it’s a point that appears in the report in other sections. When asked what teachers dislike about their job, a staggering 63% said Ofsted. Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said that their survey showed the government needs to review the current inspection system.

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