Understanding how a school principal and teachers work together to implement project-based learning and other practices to help their students acquire the 21st century skills in a private school in Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


The 21st century skills (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication) are the most demanding skills for students because the importance of these skills is increasing day by day due to globalization and rapid advancement in science and technology. However, these skills are not new in the 21st century, but new is the environment where students live and interact. The evolving changes in this globalized world have a direct impact on teaching and learning. This study explored how a school principal and teachers work together to develop 21st century skills among middle Grades (VI-VIII) students. The qualitative case study method employed multiple data collection sources, including semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, and document analysis. Data were collected from a school principal and three secondary science teachers in a private school in Karachi, Pakistan. The findings yielded by this study showed that the participants perceived the 21st century as a “digital and evolving era”; therefore, they emphasized the need for developing a collaborative environment within the school and with other organizations to cope with the challenges. This study highlighted project-based learning, inquiry-based teaching, co-curricular and extracurricular activities, and ICT integration as the most effective strategy used by school to develop students’ 21st century skills. The school faced different challenges while making efforts towards the development of 21st century skills among students. For example, due to the competing interest of stakeholders, implementation of the Middle School Programme (MSP)—an externally supported innovation aimed to develop students' 21st century skills became difficult for school. Other challenges included teachers' unwillingness to improve teaching methodologies, overcrowded classrooms, overburdened curriculum, time constraints, marks-oriented examination system, and students becoming knowledge consumers while isolated in the digital world due to the overuse of technology. The factors that facilitated schools’ and teachers’ efforts to promote 21st century skills among students included: financial assistance, school-based management, decentralized decision-making policies, and the empowerment of teachers to bring reforms in instructional practices. Based on these findings, it is recommended for policymakers, curriculum developers, and implementers that there is a need to develop a mechanism of evaluating and monitoring system to ensure the implementation of policies and to make sure that the teachers are part of curriculum development. It is also recommended for the policy makers to develop a successful mix model of the curriculum to balance top-down and bottom-up approaches to build a relationship between national and school level-based curriculum.

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