Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication (Name of Journal)

Quality in education: Teaching and leadership in challenging times


Professional Development Centre, Karachi


This study explores five field education officers’ (FEOs) understanding of their dual roles as educational reformers and community developers in the rural, mountainous district of Chitral, Pakistan. In particular, it examines their specific actions and methods (strategies) and their underlying assumptions and core values (orientations) of change. These FEOs work as change agents in schools and in the local communities where schools have been established by the Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan (AKES,P). The study’s findings derive from empirical data collected through qualitative research methods, such as semi-structured interviews (individual and focus-group), non-participant observations, post-observation discussions, informal conversations and analysis of relevant documents. The findings capture three realms of the FEOs’ world: a) The FEOs’ role as external change agents; (b) their daily practices of change, and (c) their conceptual underpinnings of change. In the first realm, the study finds that the FEOs play a unique role, that of educational reformer and community developer, stimulating change in both schools and in local communities. These FEOs are authorized by AKESP’s district management; therefore, it is mandatory for AKESP schools and schools’ communities to accept their interventions. In the second realm, analysis of the FEOs’ specific actions and key methods for change reveals four distinct strategies the FEOs adopt for school change —Teacher-Centred, Moral Persuasion, Pragmatic, and Leadership— and three main strategies for community development —Participatory, Training, and Power-Laden. All seven strategies illuminate the FEOs’ understanding of change at the level of practice. In the third realm, this study explores the FEOs’ underlying assumptions, core values, and key concepts of change; it reconstructs three broad change orientations —Political, Technical, and Spiritual— into which each FEO’s theoretical understandings and conceptual frameworks of change are categorized. Examining the interrelatedness of the FEOs’ roles, strategies, and change orientations reveals that each FEO’s change orientation serves as a lens through which that FEO views and approaches change, defines his role, and shapes his strategies for change. Despite their distinct orientations, unique role, and particular strategies, all five FEOs operate within a common broader framework of socioeducational change or more, specifically, community-based school change.