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The Pakistani Gifted Child Development Project: An International Collaboration

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Hollingworth Center Gifted Child Development Project collaborates with schools in Karachi, Pakistan.

Hollingworth Center Gifted Child Development Project collaborates with schools in Karachi, Pakistan.

The Hollingworth Center is assisting in the development of the Gifted Child Development Project located in Karachi, Pakistan.

This program, which began in March of 2002 in collaboration with Professor Mohammad Iqbal Malik of the National Institute of Public Administration, seeks to identify potentially gifted children from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Teacher training, parent development, and curriculum design are key elements of the project. The Institute hopes to send selected members of its faculty to Teachers College to participate in training and school visitation sessions facilitated by the Hollingworth Center. Igbal Malik says that the concept of gifted children is novel in Pakistan. "The idea about the gifted is a little novel to our teachers, but not beyond their comprehension and grasp."

The Hollingworth Center is a program of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching and is a service, research and demonstration site. The Center is designed to provide internship and training opportunities for the graduate students of Teachers College, develop model programs in early childhood education, and offer enriching educational services for children, families, and educators. Primarily concerned with nurturing the talent development of all young children, the Center was established by Professor James Borland and Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs in 1981.

A special focus of the Center is providing outreach programs to underserved children and teachers in urban schools; and developing model curriculum in areas traditionally neglected in the primary grades. Lisa Wright, Director of the Hollingworth Center, talked about how the project with the Pakistani schools began. "We started working with Professor Iqbal Malik about a year ago when he was in New York. What emerged was the collaborative project with the Hollingworth Center," said Wright. "The teachers in Pakistan are a determined group who are committed to providing opportunities for the neediest of Karachi's children."

The Hollingworth Center's role thus far has been providing expertise, collaborating with the schools in the development of teacher training materials, supplying complete kits of curriculum materials, as well books and videos.

Another aspect of the collaboration involves teams of elementary school teachers in Karachi who participate in staff development sessions designed to foster their understanding of the importance of talent development in young children. These teachers are from publicly funded schools in the most economically challenged areas of Karachi. Additionally, the faculty of the Teacher's Training College are now including modules about the education of the gifted in their teaching methodology courses.

Wright said that the collaboration has led to a series of staff development workshops that have been implemented for the local government schoolteachers-primary and secondary. These sessions have focused on the development of talent in children, teaching strategies to foster talent development, and parent involvement.

The Hollingworth Center also sponsors the Global Village Book Talk Group, which fosters a deeper cultural appreciation of the approximately 100 8-to-10-year-old students who participate. Among the many schools engaged in this project are two private schools in Karachi, the Cardinal School and the Karachi Police Department School. Children read and respond in a variety of ways to pre-selected multicultural picture books. The children's work is shared digitally and through an art show at Teachers College.

Wright is looking to the future and said, "We hope to host a visit for the Karachi teachers. Both Professor Borland and I have been invited to present workshops there. We also want to identify children of promise from very low socioeconomic neighborhoods in Karachi and provide appropriate educational programming for them."

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