The rat race of KGS admissions

Published: May 11, 2012

'My son was asked to identify a polar bear and a penguin! That’s a bit much don’t you think?'

Mrs A remembers it as ‘the most horrible week of my life.’ She cried frequently; she had trouble sleeping at night; she had to leave a party early because she felt like she ‘couldn’t breathe’. And too many of her hours were filled with ‘whys’; why did this happen to her? Why?

A child stricken with life-threatening illness? The collapse of the family business? The death of a beloved parent?  No, the darkest week of Mrs A’s life came two weeks ago when her daughter was rejected admission in the nursery at Karachi Grammar School (KGS).

It’s hard to imagine writing such a sentence as anything other than a joke, but for well-heeled parents across Karachi, the elite like Mrs A; the ambitious, the academically inclined and the socially well connected, nursery is intensely serious business. Between growing populations and an increasingly competitive job market, getting your child into one of the city’s most prestigious private schools has become a gruelling, multi-year competition, with its own rules, code language, and intrigue. It’s a mean competition too – one that can turn sensible, mannerly, child-loving parents and educators into hard, calculating, and paranoid operators. (Almost everyone interviewed for this article insisted that she not be quoted by name and that all identifying characteristics be disguised.)

That applying to nursery should become such cut-throat business is doubtless a joke to those not in it – “yet”, said one parent darkly – or with children already past that age. However, the pint-size contestants of this game are merely the most striking example of a profound change in sentiments about early childhood, achievement, status and what it means to be successful in Karachi.

Karachi’s greatest school: Do you have ‘it’?

The opinions you will hear about Karachi Grammar School are as varied as the students who attend it. Most people, some grudgingly, will admit that the teachers are by and large seasoned educators, the nursery program one of the best in the country and the A’ Level graduates, the highest scoring, frequently of world-wide fame.

And with very few exceptions, everyone will also concede that KGS has one more notable quality that holds it aloft year after year; age. The red brick building is as integral a part of Karachi architecture as anything else. It holds the mystique of privilege that is hard to manufacture anew and that continues to radiate the old-money glamour that makes even the nouveau-riche of Karachi aspire to some post-Colonial remnants of English polish. The colour of students’ uniforms, the prefectorial gowns, the historical connotations of the many, many success stories that are KGS alumni, has given the institution an affiliation to triumphant achievement hard to match and understandably, in a country full of suffering, one that parents are desperate for their children to at least be near to.

Estimates for the number of nursery applications the school receives each year varies wildly, depending on how hysterical the parent being questioned is feeling at that point. Some put the figure at about 800, while others swear it’s closer to 2,000. The selected candidates amount to 100 usually and so the odds are similar to some of the top universities in the world. Add to this the number of children of alumni and siblings of current students, both of whom get preferential treatment in admissions, and what you have left is only a handful of openings for the general populace.

However, though no one likes to talk about it, there is more at work here than increased demand and low supply. The almost Darwinian struggle for a KGS nursery spot is also evidence of the triumph of the cognitive elitism that has swamped the upper middle class of this country. The obsession with academics has been a prominent part of Pakistan for a while now (perhaps evidenced by the star status handed to established teachers and tutors).

To get your child into KGS is to confirm that he is one of the cognitive elect. As a result, the school becomes part of a product orientation – measurable success: where you go to college, what kind of job you have, how you dress, how well you speak English. In short, who you are in Karachi’s society.

Making things more loaded for today’s parents is that other sources of identity and status have faded in significance.

One mother confided:

I know plenty of women who would rather die than say their child got rejected from Grammar

It’s effectively admitting you don’t have ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ might be.

In short, your child’s perceived brain power and social polish says a lot about who you are in Karachi!

Race to the top: Who says what’s fair?

The result is an admissions process that is not for the tender-hearted.

The parents and the child are evaluated. The parents have their own interview which includes a pleasant but thorough examination of the family culture, the professional lives of both mother and father and the manifestation of their relationship to their child. And then, it’s the child’s turn.

And, just how do admissions directors measure up the four-year-old? Through a test, though no one dares refer to it as a test. It’s euphemistically referred to as an “interview” where the child is taken to a separate room where two or three adults will be watching as various questions and tasks are placed before him. No parent interviewed for this article could comprehensively articulate about the test.

One mother says laughingly:

Keep in mind, we’re relying on a bunch of four year olds to tell us what went on in there.

The irony that those same four year olds, who are too young to be trusted when it comes to accurately describing what just happened in the room, are the same ones expected to perform (willingly, intelligently, graciously) on demand to total strangers is not lost on her.

Some children have described basic pre-school tasks such as stacking blocks, separating objects by color and identifying farm animals. There are flash cards and a little bit of art. Other candidates have mentioned physical activity areas and being asked to navigate structures similar to those found in indoor playgrounds.

Sounds simple enough at this point, doesn’t it? Except of course, as with any situation where passions are running high, there are also the stories which seem to be the stuff of urban legends. That’s where it gets tricky and the parents begin to hyperventilate.

My son was asked to identify a polar bear and a penguin! That’s a bit much don’t you think? Lucky for us, we’ve just moved from Canada so he’s familiar with winter animals, thanks to all the Christmas advertisements he’s seen on television. But, how is this a fair question for Pakistani kids?

My daughter was practically grilled on what kind of time her dad spends with her. How many hours per week, what do they do together? Okay, so he travels a lot for work but is her confusion over this question a fair assessment of how happy and stable our family is? And how exactly is this relevant for a child’s nursery education?

A third parent questions the setup of the interview itself:

Why should a kid, a smart kid, but maybe with a bit of social anxiety, want to perform for total strangers all of a sudden? How is this a fair indication of their intelligence?

‘Fair’ – the word that comes up frequently. It leads to much greater questions about the validity and practicality of the approach that private schools must take due to space and time limitations. No more so than when it comes to the well-known philosophy KGS has of giving preferential treatment to the offspring of their alumnus when it comes to admissions. This has led to generations upon generations of KGS graduates coming from the same families – a community within a community.

Those not in the ‘in’, insist on the inherent injustice of this. Others, especially those part of the familial legacy say, this is common practice all over the world. Alma mater pride is built by these ideas, and as one Grammarian says:

You don’t see me complaining when Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees’ family members get discounts. It gives a sense of community which feels good and I suspect most people would like to be part of it which is why they lash out so badly when they don’t get in.

“Not your parents’ nursery!”: Battling for a spot

Because no one really knows what happens in the entrance test for Karachi Grammar School’s nursery admissions, the idea seems to be to prepare for everything. Web forums are littered with pleas:

Does anyone know anything about the KGS entrance tests? Please help. Desperate!

There was a time, not that long ago, when few parents attempted to prepare their four year olds for nursery admission tests. But then a few more began to do it, and then more, and then suddenly, normal-seeming people with normal-seeming values began doing it too, and an arms-race mentality kicked in. Responding to parents’ anxieties and fears, some of the fancier pre-schools began subtly prepping their students and private tuition flourished.

When I asked a mother from Defence if she knew of any children being tutored for the Grammar test, she said no — before proceeding to describe how she had placed her own child in a program “to develop her fine motor skills.”

When I asked another mother to share the name of the educational videos she had been raving about (brought from London for a cool 1,200 pounds), the woman refused:

It is a wonderful DVD set, but this is my find. I don’t want to share it, otherwise everyone will just copy me.

Actually, the unspoken rule seems to be that you never allow anyone to know your child is being tutored or prepped in any way. This is partly because parents want their child to seem effortlessly brilliant, a studied carelessness or sprezzatura for the educated elites.

One lady who regularly advertises her services for admissions in to KGS, Bayview, Froebels and Foundation Public School says:

People are quite secretive about hiring me. Many parents go into full battle mode over the interview/test. Families hire tutors and that’s where I come in. It’s my job to prep the child with as similar a test as the school itself.

She shows me her workbooks and flips it open to the “Vocabulary” section.

Any vocabulary the child needs, is in this book, whether it’s to complete picture analogies or understand questions that are asked of them.

When she works with a student, she says with a weary sigh, “the primary challenge is keeping their attention.” With a three-and-a-half year old at home, her statement is just a reminder of something I already know: Four year olds, no matter how smart and delightful they may be, have obvious limits as test takers. Many, especially boys, can’t sit still; others can’t concentrate for that long, choosing at some catastrophic point to crawl under their desks and give up. Nor is the context in which these tests are administered exactly relaxing for young children.

The tutor lady explained to me:

To be fair, KGS does give three chances for the child to try and come inside but it’s still pretty daunting, wouldn’t you agree? But then school itself is just so much harder now. It’s certainly not the nursery of our parents’ youth!

In addition, on the part of the parents themselves, a certain polish and je ne sais quoi are a must. No small measure of the enormous anxiety among today’s prospective KGS nursery parents arises out of the recognition that this, the elitest of private schools retains a modicum of class snobbery.

To make oneself of that class, prospective parents have to play their cards right and have that odd combination of old-world manners mixed with knowledge-economy hustling and self-promotion that characterises the winners of this game.

“You should be interested but not overly eager. You must be well-dressed but no overkilling the designer wardrobe. Your English should be flawless but fake accents are a no-no. You should be well-prepared but not seem hyper and paranoid,”

This is how one mother tried to helpfully explain what the ‘right’ type of message needs to come across from the parents during their interview.

Add to this, the lore that circulates amongst parental circles of how other parents prepared, and you have the ingredients of a highly anxious populace.

She wore diamonds! He wore Armani!

They bought a play structure identical to the one used in the test so their kid could practice!

She and her husband memorized their answers using cue cards!

They sent a thank you gift basket afterwards!

School administrators roll their eyes at all of this, and it’s clear that there’s no one correct sentence, outfit, or behaviour that will seal the deal. Of course, I couldn’t say this with a guarantee because KGS administration famously doesn’t give interviews. Couple that with the fact that admission results are revealed at midnight on a Friday – depending on which side of the fence you’re on, you see either a savvy public relations ploy designed for maximum intrigue or a mature and necessary policy to best avoid the hysteria both before and after results are announced.

How many diamonds does it take to get in?

No matter how much energy parents put into branding their child-products, what happens is that achievement threatens to become the only means by which they know and judge their children. When parents receive less-than-acceptable results from the KGS process, the doubt begins to gnaw.

My child is bright and polished and she went to the best preschool in town. My husband and I are successful entrepreneurs and well connected. And now I am spending my nights wondering, ‘Should I have gotten tutoring?’

A friend recalls one mother saying who called after her “disastrous rejection”, crying:

Is something wrong with me? Is something wrong with my son?

One mother puzzled over the rejection of her son remarked:

My sister’s son got in. And everything between her application and ours was identical. Our boys are practically twins in habits and personality. Did I do something wrong? Did he freeze? Was there some sort of performance anxiety at play?

Then she paused in a way that made my heart tug as a fellow mother. She added:

I can’t believe I am saying this about my four-year-old

But then in the KGS world, people seem to be saying – and doing – all sorts of things about four year olds that they’ve never said and done before.

Still, there are resisters. A mother of two boys, both of who, interestingly, go to KGS says:

It nags at me that we live in this mad, mad world. These are kids! Why are we rushing them in to some sort of power-life?

My husband and I agonised over it; we wanted to protect them from the craziness. We eventually decided we’d go for the admissions but it wouldn’t matter to us either way if they got in or not.

Another disgusted mother told me that she refused to go down that route at all:

Some people snidely suggest I am afraid my daughter wouldn’t get in, so that’s why I’m not trying. And for a minute, I did think ‘I’m a bad mother, I am not giving her all the advantages that a KGS student would get. But then I am like, that’s just insane. She’s going to be in nursery. She’s only three!

Which is what I said, again and again, about my own son as I researched and interviewed for this article. “He’s only three!” I would exclaim every time someone asked me if I wasn’t worried that the publishing of this article would damn forever his chances of a spot in KGS.

And then I would look at my son and wonder:

Am I doing him a disservice? Never mind the fact that I am actually not criticising the school anyways. One part of me is convinced he would never get in, so any of my published views on the subject would hardly matter.

It would seem that what is essential for myself and the Mrs As of Karachi to grasp is that, especially in today’s world, there are many kinds of stories imaginable. A child goes to some Urdu-medium school in an unknown village, but discovers his talent during A’ Levels and ends up at Oxford doing a PhD in applied statistics. His rich cousin, goes to Grammar and makes it to Harvard too, but then wanting to spend more time with family, takes a relaxed editing job at a local newspaper. The girl who was a B student at an army school launched a successful beauty parlour business. The boy who got rejected from KGS and went to St. Patrick’s instead went on to become the CEO of the biggest bank in the country.

And that’s the tricky thing to remember about the wild ride of this life. It can be hard to guess the end from the beginning.

But at the same time, as one KGS teacher (off the record, naturally) said:

Look, the school is great, no doubt about it. But the gloriously shiny beacon of all that is excellent and true, this whole larger than life image it’s been given? That’s the parents doing. Not the school-walay. And certainly not the kids. I mean when was the last time you saw a four-year-old staring bereft at his little Transformers figure because he didn’t make the cut at an academic institution? On the other hand, when you see the star-studded alumnus and you hear of their achievements and you see how people sit up just a little bit straighter and pay you a little bit more respect when they hear your kid is a Grammarian, that’s a nod to something, isn’t it? So can you blame the parents for wanting that for their child?

She has, it would seem, a point.

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Should parents send toddlers to tuition centers to prepare for admission tests?

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Hiba

Hiba Masood

Mother of two young kids and the Drama Mama columnist for Express Tribune's Ms.T magazine. Writing about parenting affords her time away from actually doing it.To read more by Hiba, find her on facebook.com/etdramamama.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Samuel

    Perhaps, its true that one can qualify from a average school to become more successful, BUT the fact remains- It would be a huge dillema for a elitist if there son wouldn’t get admission in KGS. For one, KGS makes you more likely to succeed then the person from the average school, and when you can afford KGS’ education, why go for the lower ones. But its despicable in Lahore how all the safarshis get admissions in Aitchison.Recommend

  • Mo

    My daughter is 3 years old and she’s in second grade. Her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are her teachers. She “learns” in a home made creative lab where art, creativity and dreams are given more priority than anything else. Her father decides what grade she’s in.

    My daughter qualified for this school the day she was born.

    Oh and guess what? She has amazing Urdu language skills at the age of 3. She uses Urdu words that most grammar grads don’t even have in their vocab. I’ve gone to a lot of schools around Karachi and I’ve grilled the teachers and the head mistresses asking them why? Why do you teach this way? Why don’t you teach that way? Why should I send my child to your school? Will my child be smiling every day when going to school or do you use fear as a motivator and prepare compliant factory workers upon graduation? Where is the art? Will you make my child a dreamer? What is the role of “extra curricular” activities in your school?

    And the answer….”but math is important!”

    When and if I do send my children to school I’ll make sure I tell them every day not to take school to seriously and always disrupt, stand out, be different and get into trouble.

    The last point in the article does make sense. Things will change when parents start asking the right questions, when parents step up, when parents realize what school is doing to them and to their children. Unfortunately, most parents that even realize these just don’t have the guts to do anything about it.

    Regards,Recommend

  • obsessed

    Didn’t Tribune just publish a blog about KGS admissions last month? Seems the editors are obsessed with the school too :pRecommend

  • Taimoor

    awesome awesome article!
    whilst it is true that KGS students end up going to the most elite of colleges and be extremely successful, I dont see why ‘normal’ kids from ‘normal’ schools cant do the same. Ofcourse there are examples we see around us.Recommend

  • Zareen

    This has led to generations upon generations of KGS graduates coming from the same families – a community within a community” I seriously could not agree more with you on this one.Recommend

  • Hashmi

    Same is the case for Aitchison Lahore..Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Tribune Reader

    I am an Ex Grammarian, OG plus KGS class of 2004, be greatful if your children do not end up in KGS, once u go down that rat race towards a kgs admission, its a rat race for life, the rat race never ends, and goes on to include most of your adult life as well. Competitive pressures while being a Grammarian are far worse, and Darwinian style survival of the fittest is the norm of the place. Polished young adults or no polished young adults, your transforming children into savage competitively driven machines by the time they reach adult hood.Recommend

  • Hira Z

    A friend is sending her 1.5 years old son to pre school (6 days a week )who hardly can speak Mummy Daddy in order to prepare him for KGS.While my niece will start her school at the age of 5 In Canada.

    Indeed , This only happens in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Asher

    Some people snidely suggest I am afraid my daughter wouldn’t get in, so that’s why I’m not trying. And for a minute, I did think ‘Im a bad mother, I am not giving her all the advantages that a KGS student would get. But then I am like, that’s just insane. He’s going to be in nursery. He’s only three!

    Daughter?? He??? Is ET in such a hurry to publish blogs?? :SRecommend

  • Salim Khan

    My nephew got into KGS a few weeks ago.I can’t believe the difference with which people are treating my brother and his wife.All our relatives and neighbours who normally aren’t that generous with their praise are now praising my nephew and my bhabi as if they’ve conquered India.I know our society is one based on pretension and class system but this is ridiculous,praising to the heavens by the same ppl who used to look down on our family is very shocking.What they don’t realise is the boatload of money my brother had to dish out to private tutors who put my nephew through rigorous classes and practice sessions every day for many months.
    The amount of effort my nephew and his parents put in getting him knowledgeable enough and intelligent enough for the admission test was disturbing,small children shouldn’t be made to work this hard to get into a school.He had to go to his regular school every day and then after getting back from school had to leave for his tutions immediately,then come back again in the evening and do his homework given at his school.Life shouldn’t have to be this hard for a child in his childhood.Recommend

  • pervaiz memon

    I have one daughter and son . I have experience of BVS and Mama Parsi for admission in class I and got the admission . Now my son is in class 6 and this years he apply for KGS . BVS is Very good school that’s why very few student are willing to move from BVS . But we have reasons to switch over the school firstly English Language ( Bvs’s boy are not fluent in English speaking as compare to KGS) , Secondly their very tough schedule of study some time it looks kid are appearing in Phd. classes.And as compare to Mama , KGS have more ex-poser other wise in totality Mama is better school .My son did not get admission but believe me KGS admission producer is transparent and base on merit . They are very friendly and cooperative . Do not take it hard and try next with full energy . Recommend

  • Asad

    It all boils down to the final product. Are these kids becoming successful engineers, economists, scientists and making new discoveries, creating technologies or products which change/affect the lives of fellow pakistanis?Recommend

  • Hameed

    @Mo you are every school teachers nightmare come true :)Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    A good way to advertise and degrade children learning from other institutes then GRAMMER. Further you should very well be aware of the facts that the recent Record holders children from our country come from a middle class background and were not into such MONEY SQUEEZING schools were a 4 years kid brilliance is Less judged then the pocket of there parents and there living standards. In simple words Education centers should not be a Status symbol sign rather a place where merit counts Recommend

  • Mo/CA

    @Samuel:
    What do you mean KGS level education fees… KGS is probably has the mediocre level of tuition, till atleast when I there (not so long ago). The tuition that I paid in another private school with multiple branches all over Karachi and the rest of Pakistan was quite similar to what I paid at KGS and in return I was afforded a much much better level of education. People in Karachi need to understand that the KGS tuition in comparison to other private schools is nothing. Also for people that come from homes that are not so affluent there are scholarship programs through the OGS society which funds schooling for a lot of Grammarians that go on to achieve big things in life.

    People need to think, and research before they make absurd claims… Recommend

  • Mo/CA

    @Mo:
    at your insistence we should close whatever remaining good schools we have left in the country… What your child is going through in respect to education is a noble task being undertaken by your family… But not every family is like yours, and before negating KGS for its urdu skills, City and Beacon for its English skills etc., one should appreciate the good points in these schools and appreciate it. Recommend

  • Mo/CA

    @Taimoor:
    There are students from other schools that attend top universities in the world, but the probability of a KGS grad going to a top university is higher than if they were from other schools. This has to do with multiple facts such as the financial standings of the KGS families is usually higher than that of the general population which means that they can afford it. Also KGS tries to pick the creme of students in 7th grade, O levels and for A levels in which only 8 As in O levels is a benchmark…

    @Zareen:
    Your understanding of KGS families is flawed I think. Atleast in my section very few people were actually sons and daughters of KGS alum. And yes they might be preferred for nursery section in which a family interview plays a heavy influence, but I think is completely false for admissions in other classes (7th, 10th, and 12th)

    @Tribune reader:
    The rat race is prevalent in all areas of life, and in all schools per say in Pakistan, India, Korea, etc. To pin it to KGS is unfair.

    @Hira Z:
    Try to visit the world, and talk to people other than your backgrounds… This happens all over the world. Preschool is a world phenomenon including in the US, and to me its just a way of getting rid of children during day time. I am not saying that its wrong for parents that work, but housewives/house husbands should have the decency of spending time with their children and teach them themselves… IN our world everything, yes including child raising is outsourced. Recommend

  • Balakhsher Khan Jatoi

    Who cares ? Aitchison’s the best school in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Shabnam

    @Asad: same question can be asked for all the other schools in the country… This is a societal failure, where the society forces conformity on its children. Beita be a doctor, was the only thing that I heard growing up. IN college I rebelled and took up arts, but low and behold I was tracked backed into medicine… This is true for many other families in Pakistan… beita doctry, ya engineering.. KGS is not at fault for the failure of producing discoveries, but it is a societal failure in which we live. Recommend

  • Waqar Saleemi

    @Mo:
    You are 200% right Mo. I am really impressed by you.
    I went to The City School, did O-A levels, got MBA and MSc Management from University of London. Now, when I look back, it seems that I have gone through a painful exercise, 24/7 tension without any good reason.

    I would not let my children go through the same circumstances.
    Please give me yours or your husband’s contact details so I could plan something like your’s kid curriculum.Recommend

  • http://sarahshafiq.blogspot.com Sarah

    Dear Madam, have you studied from KGS to form an opinion objective enough to blog about it? Do you care to pause and think whether you’re really doing the journalistic dynamics a respectable favour by living borders apart, blogging about a good school in the least objective fashion by interviewing a handful of parents who tried out their luck?

    I am a Grammarian and I know what wonder the school holds. It is only because of yellow journalistic troubles that the school’s image gets deteriorated for no good. Recommend

  • Zain

    What is so special about KGS? I never understood it. I remember back in O levels and A levels, my friends told me how people send their drivers to stand in line to get the admission forms as soon as their kids are born. Does the KGS use some sort of revolutionary teaching methods that other private schools are completely unaware or incapable of teaching? At the end, all kids, regardless of where they received their schooling, have to take the A levels exams and other standardized tests such as the SAT to receive admission into elite universities abroad. So what difference does it make if one doesn’t study at KGS? You can make it into MIT or Harvard with hard work and dedication.

    It doesn’t matter where you went to nursery, middle school or high school. It does matter where you went to university. That is what parents need to realize. Recommend

  • Smirnov

    KGS is over-rated.

    I got rejected by them 13 years ago,and now I’m a freshman at Columbia.

    Any public school in the west beats KGS.Recommend

  • Soon-to-be-a-parent

    FINALLY…. A well researched article got published in ET.

    Kudos to writer for this brilliant piece !!!Recommend

  • a

    @Sarah:
    did you read the article? how does it in any way deteriorate the school’s image
    she never said that it wasn’t a good school
    she only questions the parents who need their children to get in because it reflects well upon them. parents who use their children as accessories and status symbolsRecommend

  • Sarah

    @Smirnov:
    As far as the comparison to public schools in the West is concerned, it is again pretty funny to think why you would even pull them into comparison in the first place. KGS is confined to Pakistan because it is located here, and the dynamism which pro-KGS people lend it is only because it is the best according to Pakistani standards.
    Also, I don’t think anybody sane enough would think only Grammarians make it to good American colleges, so your assertion about you studying in one is nothing but your rejection speaking.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @Tribune Reader:

    I agree with your comment! I studied in one of the best schools in India and as you said, once you go down that road, it’s a rat race for life.
    The examination schedule in my school was unbelievable. 4 papers on a monday, 4 on tuesday and 3 on wednesday – And that was the end of the annual exams ! The result was that by the age of nine-ten I had learnt to stay up most of the night and study.
    One of the most important examinations in a student’s life in India is the 10th std exam.We had started preparing for the exam more than 2 yrs in advance.As result, around 70 out of 120 students in my batch scored more than 90% in the examination , that was quite an achievement for my school.
    We studied Shakespeare’s ” Merchant of Venice ” in the ninth grade. 16 years later, I can still recite the entire play if asked to; Our English teacher had drilled it into our heads.
    I am proud of my school but I do feel that I spent the best years of my life hyperventilating about exams,marks and college admissions.What a pity! Recommend

  • menteliscio

    i studied in FG school jehlum. kgs alumni shivers infront of me.Recommend

  • Sarah

    @a:
    Hands down, I agree with you. Almost everybody taking up a ‘neutral’ approach to penning an essay on schools falls victim to bias. I haven’t confined my comment to this article.Recommend

  • Ali T.

    @Mo:
    Wow. A 3 year old in 2nd grade must be some kind of record!Recommend

  • Parvez

    I got tired half way through this………….. it’s not because it was not well written and you have been quite detailed in your study but I suppose the subject matter and the picture of our clawing and catty upper crust lot was just depressing. Recommend

  • Nandita.

    contd … I must also admit that although I detested all the pressure I was under as a student, I know I will turn into one of the parents the author has described.
    I do not have kids; I am not even pregnant but I have researched all the schools in bangalore ( since I didn’t grow up here ) and I have shortlisted a few. My husband and I wanted to purchase an apartment in bangalore so I’ve booked one keeping in mind the proximity of my house to the schools i have shortlisted. I have even called the offices of these schools to inquire about the admission process. All this, when I am not even pregnant and do not wish to conceive right now. My paranoia about school admissions never ceases to amaze and scare my husband.
    Yeah, I know I am crazy ! I know ! But there’s nothing I can do about it! Recommend

  • Sarah

    @a: Excerpts from the article to illustrate my comment:
    And, just how do admissions directors measure up the four-year-old? Through a test, though no one dares refer to it as a test. It’s euphemistically referred to as an “interview” where the child is taken to a separate room where two or three adults will be watching as various questions and tasks are placed before him. No parent interviewed for this article could comprehensively articulate about the test.
    And again,
    he result is an admissions process that is not for the tender-hearted.

    No more so than when it comes to the well-known philosophy KGS has of giving preferential treatment to the offspring of their alumnus when it comes to admissions. This has led to generations upon generations of KGS graduates coming from the same families – a community within a community.
    Yet again,
    School administrators roll their eyes at all of this, and it’s clear that there’s no one correct sentence, outfit, or behaviour that will seal the deal. Of course, I couldn’t say this with a guarantee because KGS administration famously doesn’t give interviews.Recommend

  • neha

    Heres the thing, regardless of whether KGS really is the best school, or the worst school, or if aunties are valid in their nutso feelings towards it, all that really matters is that KGS is now part of pop culture, everyone has an opinion about it, everyone stands somewhere. There are more blog posts/hate(or love) rants on fb/tweets dedicated to KGS than any other school. The word grammarian is not really about a certain kind of uniform, its about an entire identity, and it exists in everyones minds regardless of whether it is true or not.

    For those who are on the outside, it is either an identity/institution that they can comfortably hate, and feel better about themselves because they don’t have THAT accent or THAT burgerness or THAT elitist attitude. And for those dying to get in, it is simply the desire to be relevant in a way that other schools will never be.

    For those who are on the inside, such posts most of the time, are well… just really kinda funny.Recommend

  • ukmuslim

    @Mo:
    … I do send my children to school I’ll make sure I tell them every day not to take school to seriously and always disrupt, stand out, be different and get into trouble.
    i am impressed. this is too good to tell my children as well (in a positive manner; not bullying, swearing). many thanks.Recommend

  • Silent Spectator

    As an ex-Grammarian myself, I can attest to the quality of education imparted at KGS. There is much more to school life than academics and KGS ensures that those extra elements are instilled in you. The tuition fees at KGS are in fact much lower than other franchise style private schools of Karachi. Little do people know that Grammarians rent books from the school during the school year and return them at the end of the year. Of course, you have to pay a significant penalty if you deface or lose the books. Which other school does in Karachi does that? Also KGS has its own stationery store in case you run out of something during the day. You don’t have to pay cash for such items and your parents are later billed for your stationery expenses.
    I hate it when people say that KGS is for the elite only. I know several students and personal friends who were middle class and did not live in Defence. KGS is a great institution and there are many reasons for it to be so. KGS takes pride in its students and vice versa. Let’s also not forget the Sharmeen Obaid, Pakistan’s first and only Oscar winner, is an ex-Grammarian too. There are several other examples of Grammarians who went on to do big things and achieve accolades. However, I do understand and realize that that there are other over-achievers who did not attend KGS. Indocti Discant!Recommend

  • Azra Qazi

    Dear Fellas!!!

    KGS or NO KGS… its the home where the child actually learns… even schools have a very low percentage in moulding the child… I have two adopted kids and believe me… this is what the kids have actually taught me… I am proud of them though they are just 8 and 9 yrs old.. yet wonders!! So those who are fretting over any particular school… stop worrying and enjoy what you have!!!Recommend

  • Mohammad Assad

    I went to KGS myself, class 1 to A levels, but a lot of that had to do with it being closer to my home than the name itself. lol.
    .
    .
    However the extent to which some people go to get there kids in KGS is absurd. Some ‘aunty’ came to my mom, and when asking for tips how to get her 3 year old in..she said that she hadnt taught her child urdu out of fear that she may end up speaking urdu when the KGS folks as her questions!!!!!!….And another such aunty, falsified her daughters birth records to get her into KGS one year above, because admissions for her own year were closed!!!
    .
    The School is awsome…but i mean COME ON!! its not the end of the world if u dont get into KGSRecommend

  • ukmuslim

    @nandita
    you are on right track. believe me, after 8 years of living in a property, i am about to move out. not because of any problem with the house or neighbors or location. it is because we are not in catchment area of our preferred school for my son.
    though i was born and raised in a village in konkan, maharashtra. i did my primary and secondary schooling from the local village school in vernacular medium. and look at me, i am so worried for my child’s education.
    this is life, old rules are no more applicable now.Recommend

  • Abbas

    maybe her child isnt good enough.the school has a merit based system.After all there are people who have to re-apply after o levels and dont make it back.If she has problems socially and telling people her child didnt make it in nursey, what would happen if her child did make it till o levels and then couldnt get back in for A levels.Recommend

  • KGS Alum

    I just recently graduated from KGS myself. People who have not seen the institution first hand wrongly judge it and have a negative opinion of the school for no good reason. Yes the school is an English Medium school and therefore you are expected to communicate in English (yet Urdu is also taught and in no way discouraged). If you are against the idea of an English medium school do not send your children to KGS. Why must you hate those who prefer sending their children to an English medium schools? Secondly, I hate how people have this idea that KGS is an elitist school that serves only the elite of the city. Not everyone in KGS belongs to the so ‘elite’. I had friends from all sorts of backgrounds. For those who have not been to KGS, I will let you know how strictly KGS discouraged elitism. Unlike other private schools in the city, KGS was far more strict in making sure that the uniform is worn properly. That meant that nobody is allowed to wear designer shirts, sweaters, shoes or anything. Everyone was told that it was not only the colours that mattered in the uniform it was also the fact that you could not in any way try to show off your attire through the school uniform.

    Lastly, do not blame and criticise the school for what some crazy parents do to get their children in. My parents never sent me to any coaching centres when I was 1 and neither did they pressurise my in any way when I was a child. The same is the case with all my friends who have been with me since day 1 and the ones who came to school later. It is natural that since there is such a high demand for admissions into the school it is very difficult to get in. This means that parents wrongly think that they need to start pressurising their children and sending them to tuition centres. None of that is necessary and I am an example of that. As far as competition is concerned, yes KGS provides a very ‘healthy’ competitive environment. There is nothing wrong with competition. Competition motivates you to try harder and do better. I know people who achieved great things in school simply as a result of the competition created. It is not as cut throat as people make it seem. Just because KGS has an established name people like to target it for all sorts of reasons. Instead of criticising a school focus on created more institutions for fine education. For all your criticisms of KGS, this article does exactly what it criticises KGS for. It serves to educate the elite on treating their children better rather than focusing on broader issues that this country faces. Stop wasting your time attacking KGS. Recommend

  • PK Expat

    Hi everyone, I’m an ex-grammarian as well, spent 12 years at KGS and graduated in the late 90′s, and what I want to say is, KGS is just one of several schools in Karachi that offers a high quality and internationally competitive higher education. It is unfortunate that virtually all educational models are built such that nursery/junior/middle school selection is geared towards the final high school spot, which in turn gears you for a college spot, and then the first job, and then the second job etc. Of course its Darwinianism, but the point is, it is not just KGS that will provide it to young Karachiites and other Pakistanis who decide to send their children to Karachi for their education. I continuously meet high achieving Pakistanis all over the world who are incredibly talented and very well connected who did not go to KGS. Sure many did, but then many went to Hasan Abdal, Aitchison, Becaon House, City School, Lyceum, CAS, FPS, Bay View and several more and have achieved great things. Also the trend is now changing from just a few Pakistani schools sending their kids to the best colleges. There are more and more high school grads from Karachi that hail from schools other than KGS that land spots in the best colleges. I sincerely feel a lot of this hype about KGS and elitism is some of the parents trying to get their 3 yr olds in spinning up a big frenzy. I know its tough but if you really want your kids to go to KGS, then try again in Class 3 or Class 7, or even for O’levels. My class had probably over 80% of students (maybe more) that were not the children of alumni, so ofcourse there is a chance for high performing candidates. And also, the KGS high fees rumour is a myth, they don’t charge any higher than all the other private institutions. To summarize, we should be proud of the many very high calibre schools in Karachi and other cities of Pakistan, that are becoming stronger and more competitive every day. KGS as your sole ticket to success is a redundant concept that I don’t buy at all. Recommend

  • not impressed

    i guess you didn’t get in Recommend

  • Camilla

    Although I was a Grammarian as were my six siblings. Three of my four children got admission while my youngest did not! I am not the least bit embarrassed to admit it! Why should I be, I believe a child’s true potential will shine through no matter what school he or she goes to. Sadly
    Grammar School today is not a patch on what it was in my time! Recommend

  • Mo/CA

    @Smirnov:

    Your name is a knockoff from the vodka Smirnoff, and shows what level of education you recieved outside of KGS. You must be in a delusional world if you think that any public school in the west can beat KGS. I have studied in both, a public school in the US, and KGS and let me tell you that they are no match to each other. KGS by far is much much better than just the around the corner type of public school.
    Its good that you’re in a top notch university, and being from KGS doesnt mean that you would deff. end up there. But being from KGS grooms you in a way that very few other schools do, and provides for a better oppurtunity for you to get enrolled in a top university. The probability of succeeding and getting admitted into a top university is higher if a student is from KGS, then if it was any other private school (atleast in Karchi) or any other public school in the US.

    just look at the where students end up going from KGS… Yale, Colombia, Harvard, UC-Berkley, UCLA, Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Aga Khan, LUMS, etc…

    so one should really think before speaking. Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    @Tribune Reader: *Grateful :)Recommend

  • Sarah

    @Silent Spectator: Yes, I will have fries with that!Recommend

  • a kgs mother

    The truth also is that people form their own communities be it CAS, Bayview, Indus, Becon, and City, and all the other good schools in the city- and within those communities there is a vibrancy of culture and activities and their graduates go on to do great thing. part of the reason why these schools, however, have not bee able to match Kgs’s snooty, or in this case, earthy appeal is that they remain hopelessly driven by profit, while kgs remains a non profit school owned by the church. Having been through Bayview, i was alarmed at the admission fee, and their internalized lower status as they prepped pre school kids to go to kgs for nursery, celebrated their departure, then inducted a whole new set of kids who would replace them at Bayview with a whole new set of admission fees exhorted. its a business, and as long as profits drive the lust for education, rather than having a state funded, public school system, dedicated to improving society, eradicating poverty, saving the environment, building class, gender and ethnic equality, this rat race will continue to cancer the minds of people clamoring at the top. Kgs’s non profit status though, now seems, almost an insipid fact of its history, rather than a part of its actively inculcated tradition. You do see remnants of good school values – focus on recycling, earth day, buying locally made goods, but it is fast fading as the parents seem to represent the elite mentality and compete doggedly, and reinforce class power – sometimes gently opposed by administration, but mostly condoned. Many a time, I have seen child labor just like I did at Bayview and CAS. I have seen class 2 girls handing out fliers for lawn;I have seen teachers yell and girls be told they must behave a certain way. And in those moments, kgs seems worse than the worst public school in america which would at least teach respect and basic human values and sensitivity. But then they have lectures and discussions on social issues, they engage parents in dialogue, they are open as much as they often seem unapproachable. Staff is often not able to snap out of their own myth.

    There is a malaise in society and I hope we can flush it all out of our systems. Had my children not gotten in, I would be cursing the school and saying how its terrible and the teaching less than adequate. The malaise is in me as well. Lets hope for wellness.Recommend

  • a kgs mother

    and oh, kudos to the author. This is one of the finest ET blog pieces I have read.Recommend

  • http://ahsanjamil.com Ahsan J

    one wonder if premium they charge is actually because of their ability to impart better education or the artificial exclusivity created by the Institution itself.
    Very nicely written article.Recommend

  • PK_Expat

    I want to add that the author has written a very good piece, maybe that wasn’t apparent in my previous post. I wish her and all the other parents of young children all the success in choosing a good school for their kids. It is indeed a competitive world, but I will stand by my point, KGS is NOT the sole ticket to future success. We have incredibly good educational establishments in Pakistan with very high calibre graduates, who are achieving great things. I sincerely believe that KGS and other schools should actively work together and participate in inter-school activities and raise the bar constantly for all schools.Recommend

  • Doosam

    very well written and informative too…one question though, did the educational DVD set cost GBP 1,200? really?Recommend

  • Atika.rehman

    Loved it! You nailed it

    Recommend

  • Tariq Ahmed Karachi

    @Sarah:
    Sorry to say but the best English school/college in Pakistan is universally accepted to be Aitchson College, Lahore .Not much people recognise Karachi Grammar outside Karachi/Hyderabad region.Its more Karachi centered.While Aitchson is even internationally known.Recommend

  • Smirnov

    @Mo/CA:
    The quality of Public schools in America depend upon which neighborhood you live in.

    Many school districts in America have magnet schools, which are even better than many private schools in America, and the private schools in America happen to be way better than KGS.

    The probability of somebody from a second-tier public high school getting into an ivy league
    is the same as someone from KGS. Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    O come on people … knowing my country folks, it has nothing to do with the kids’ education …. it is just another ego quencher, another show off, another race, another competition between the parents !!!!!Recommend

  • Mo/CA

    @Smirnov:
    I have lived in the south generally, and I can tell you that the quality of education imparted in public schools is below par to the education offered at KGS, and for that matter most top schools in Karachi like St. Pats, St. Josephs, CJM, etc. Magnet schools also cannot be considered public, cause the whole point of public education is that anybody can get in. When there is an admission test, and a lottery system then it is not public in true sense. Just my personal 2 cents.

    Also just pick the best public school in the US, compare their 4 year graduation rates to that of KGS or for that matter any other private institution in Pakistan. And also compare where the class goes to. I am in no way saying that education in the US sucks, but one has to have basis on facts. I can speak from experiencing at both KGS, and the public school that I went in the US. While my KGS friends matriculated to the top universities in Pakistan, UK, and the US (though due to visas and all some couldnt come here), and my friends in my school in the US where some dropped out, a couple joined the army, some went to good universities, while most went to their state institutions, and community colleges.

    And if you want to compare SAT scores and scores on other standardized tests then KGS on average outperforms any public US school… Recommend

  • Mo/CA

    @Tariq Ahmed Karachi:
    Not saying Aitchison is not good, but you’re in a dillusional world if you say that there is no other Pakistani school that is recognized in Pakistan… Recommend

  • papoo piplia

    No wonder Pakistan is in such dire straits. The public school system has been completely destroyed and people still engage in such absurdities. Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Tribune Reader

    @Nandita.:
    I am still going through that in Graduate Business School in the UK, atm, my rat race has not ended yet, LOL. Thanks for your comments though. Me going to a high end high prestige Grad School was due to competitive pressure of the School I went to, to make sure I attended a University ranked in the top 10 in the World, now I am begining to wonder if all that was worth it, I am not enjoying how tough Grad School is.Recommend

  • Anon.

    KGS is no different than any of the other schools in Pakistan. Getting into the best colleges and universities because of KGS’s name and established history is simply not the case. Its about hard work, dedication and basically how badly you want it. Nothing is impossible. Ironically and quite remarkably, I got admitted to the same college where KGS’s current Head Boy got in. I don’t go to KGS.Recommend

  • F

    Rejection by KGS is not the end of the World. Neither it is the definition of intelligence. ChillRecommend

  • Yet Another Grammarian

    @ Sarah and all other Grammarians convinced that the author is maligning their school:

    You are not doing KGS any favors by demonstrating your poor reading skills. There is absolutely no criticism of the school here. Please put down the defensive shields Pakistanis seem to always have up about everything and re-read this extremely balanced piece.

    @ Everyone who thinks the author is criticizing the elite:

    I dont think thats the case either. It seems that this essay comes across as a description of what just is…rather than why it is, or how it should be. The conclusions the audience draws are left to them.Recommend

  • Informant

    I was rejected by KGS a long, long time ago — or so I am told, by my parents, who are quite insistent on the idea that my rejection had more to do with their modest means compared to the deep pockets of your typical KGS parents.

    Anyway, I ended up at good old Saint Michael’s not very far from KGS, and next year, I’ll get a Ph.D. from an ivy-league school. Don’t get me wrong, I would have probably ended up in the same university had KGS accepted me, but I would be in the business school getting an MBA, instead.Recommend

  • M’s mum

    What a wonderful article! The writer has described the situation very accurately. I think we need to stop creating such a hype about KGS. It’s a good school, like many other schools in Karachi. What matters is that our children get a sound education free of all kinds of complexes.Recommend

  • wishful thinker

    As someone who attended an extraordinary school but that school never merited mention in most circles as although it was an English medium school, it was neither the KGS nor a missionary school of consequence. It was an ‘ordinary’ school. However, I married a man who had attended the KGS. When it was time to seek admission for our son, and later for our daughter, he refused to entertain even the thought of applying to any other school other than his own school. Luckily, our children had no problem getting in.
    In those days, when Stella Jafri was the headmistress of the kindergarten section, we let it be known to her that we only spoke Urdu with our son, therefore he was not conversant in English. We did not feel the need to hide anything nor did we pretend to be what we were not. To top it, we also let her know that we lived with my husband’s parents. (All these, we were told, were a ‘no, no’ for the dreaded KGS interview with Mrs Jafri).
    Sure, I lost some sleep before the outcome of the interview was announced, but it was more to do with the fact that we had not applied to any other school.
    Later on, I joined a brand new school myself, and spent a decade as head of that (so-called) top (private) school in the city, which I helped to build. I fought with my colleagues over the criteria for kindergarten admissions as I did not believe in making the school exclusive for a certain class. I lost the battle, also on some other grounds, as the owner and principal of the school continued to preach what he did not practice.
    It is a complex situation, this business of life, of education, of values – integrity being the most valuable in my mind…The kind of school one attends, the pretenses involved, the kind of person one turns out to be, either in spite of the schooling or despite attending or running an ‘excellent’ school… This rat race will continue, no matter how much is written about this business of ‘admission to the KGS – or to any A to Z’ schools.
    I wish better sense prevails and admissions are granted either on a first come first serve basis or by balloting…end of the matter!Recommend

  • sad

    very detailed and well- written article. Grammar is an excellent school but the way people take it, its crazy!
    life is lot more than just a school. Recommend

  • ibn Abu Sana

    It would be funny if everyone eventually found out that the “test” where the kid sits alone with the three adults is just him/her eating chocolate while the adults surf Facebook and assign grades at random…..I’ve said too much.Recommend

  • SS

    Brilliant and well-written article. KGS phenomenon is just an indication of a growing and competitive middle-class society… a society that wants better things in life but the environment and the state doesn’t support it in its ambitions. Therefore, it fights hard for the few opportunities it does see…Recommend

  • Sana Ahmed

    A hilarious article- for it truly reflects what our societal complexes have forced us to become. But nevertheless, its true, you want the best for your kids and if you think KGS is the best, I can understand your disappointment at not having your child get in. But it’s a rat-race for all other schools as well: Bayview, BOS, the list goes on and on. Where does this madness stop? I have to sadly conclude, it doesnt. We, as a society in its totality, gave birth to these complexes, and we have to learn to live with them.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The KGS started in 1847, the period relevant to us is from about 1950 onwards. This too, can be broken up into two, those who were from Saddar the ‘old school’ and now those from the larger Clifton ‘boat basin’ school. I feel the school is the same, it’s the city around it that has changed and not necessarily for the better. Recommend

  • AM

    I wonder if this is due to a genuine lack of quality schools in Khi, or just due to the fact the Defence-wala’s are always competing for the perceived “best” for bragging rights?Recommend

  • Ralf

    But the fact remains KGS students are spread out in all major tution centres/tutors for their O & A Level Examinations.Recommend

  • Mo

    I agree with you. Home schooling is not the solution. Most parents are not fit for it and children don’t deserve too much trial and error. However, thinking you can rectify the current system of education is also absurd. The education system cannot be rectified, it needs to change from the ground up. Study the history of the schooling system, it was developed to produce compliant factory workers. Society no longer needs that product from school anymore. Society needs a totally different product now, one that the current education system cannot deliver.

    Like I said, things will change when parents start asking the right questions. A lot of them. However, not many parents are willing to do that because that is a tough road to take. Its much easier to send your kids to school and pretend its ok.Recommend

  • Muneeza J.

    One of the Better ET blogs, very well researched and balanced article. Recommend

  • Abid P Khan

    Some guardians are ready to go to any length on Admission Mission. They realise the value attached to the status symbol of being an alumnus of KGS. To get ahead in your life, you need some very sharp elbows. Membership of the club becomes a life time guarantee that all doors will open up for you. Poor parents, without realising make a laughing stock of themselves.
    .
    Why this madness? Reminds me of Luis Buñuel’s flick, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
    .
    The situation is funnier as on some other pages of this journal they talk of Breaking the feudal lords. A bit ironic I would say. Recommend

  • SYF

    As a homeschooling mom, the issue at hand did not concern me at all (I said sprezzaturically) but the writing had me riveted. Recommend

  • http://hammadsiddiquiblog.com Hammad Siddiqui

    When we returned from Canada in 2004, we wanted our elder daughter to get admission in grade 1 at Dawood Girl’s School. They only had 2 seats on which over 300 students were asked to appear for test. About one week after the test, we received a letter from the school suggesting “Your child has FAILED the entry test” – A nation that does not give rights to quality education from an early age suffers, and we are suffering rightly!

    I am glad my daugher is not studying at Dawood School!Recommend

  • Murtaza

    i just shifted to karachi a few weeks back. i applied to KGS for my child with no preparation at all. i just wanted to get a feel of what this KGS hype is all about.although i have nothing against the school but my overall experience with the school has not been very pleasant. at the admission day when i asked the administrator for a pen to fill the registration form ( which they should have arranged in any case) she rudely suggested that i should have got one from home and did not bother to accommodate me. the teachers handling the pre schoolers were anything but friendly and loving. Its not just KGS who has this attitude issue but i have felt the overall schooling system in karachi to be very rigid. if god forbid one has been transferred to the city during a term there are not many schools that would accommodate u. i have had a hard time settling in this city of lights.

    and darling KGS if you claim to be one of the top institutions of pakistan with an over the top education system might as well try to introduce some technology into your admission process and arrange for an online registration system .I myself have been part of one of the top universities of Pakistan and trust me this brand name might get you your first job and that is it. what u make out of your life after that is dependent on your own will and persistance and most importantly your right attitude towards life
    .Recommend

  • A

    Well written article!!Recommend

  • An outsider

    I am a grandmother and all my children and grandchildren went to school abroad. Therefore I have no reason to be either pro or anti Grammar. With that clarified…I’d like to say this whole preschool/nursery business is going to ridiculous lengths in Pakistan. Kids are being sent to school earlier and earlier and for what? So that their parents can boast that along with having foreign staff, designer lawn, and four-wheelers, they also have designer kids. Rat race full of rats.

    On another note….VERY well written article. Balanced and articulate.Recommend

  • AM

    @ibn Abu Sana: That’s one of the funniest comments I’ve read on this site in a while lol. Kudos to the author for bringing the comedians out of the woodwork.Recommend

  • AAC

    Disgusting and amusing at the same time. And what is most disappointing is that when you “make it” you witness untrained & unqualified teachers (my experience is limited to junior school) taking the responsibility of your kids future. Meet the junior school teachers and princial of the junior school of KGS and then meet the teachers of some British Overseas School and you will notice the difference.Recommend

  • n. ali

    @Asher:
    read it again! its been correctly written … !!
    lets not be so quick to call out imaginary mistakes in proof-reading!!Recommend

  • Saadia

    Wow, great article! We have the same issues in Singapore…seriously considering home-schooling to avoid it. Does anyone care about the holistic growth and development of a child anymore or is it all about results? I understand the competition is fierce but my God, they’re just kids! I think we adults project our own insecurities on them and we really need to let go and just let them unfold and blossom. I swear creativity and critical thinking are dying off in this world and this here is the reason. Thanks to the blogger for highlighting this important issue.Recommend

  • Hina

    What a detailed review; I got tired halfway reading it. But if we look at the general picture, yes it is sad that we’re in a rat race for all reasons except the child itself. It’s considered shameful if one’s do not study in the elite institutions. Three years ago, I moved to Lahore and when we began inquiring about the best school for our 4 year old, everyone was hands down “LGS” (Lahore Grammar School). And so in she went. We did not have much difficulty getting her admitted. Why? Though my daughter was well-versed in Urdu and English both and had shown 95%+ marks in her first year in Islamabad, I believe she got in because, as her mum and dad, we were successful (in the interview). My husband, an educationist at LUMS and myself sporting a successful corporate sector career must have impressed them. But the journey there on wards was hell. Yes she did brag ‘color’ days and ‘selective lunch’ days and what not – other than that, for everything else, my daughter was to be experimented upon. And when we did withdraw our child an year later, the headmistress apologized and informed us that since it’s a relatively new branch of LGS, the teachers and the staff are still new to the norms of the school system and are learning. We’re hopeful they’ll pick up fast. I wish your child could’ve stayed back.

    That’s LGS Phase 5 for you!Recommend

  • Troll-face

    Ahh – Fear of rejection.Recommend

  • alk

    @Zain:
    your ignorance is pitiful. university matters but school is equally, if not more, important. your early grooming, formation of your mind, your personality, confidence, outlook. the company you keep is all shaped by your school. this is why schools matter, they are with you at the critical time whn you are growing up, developing a personality and your grooming is what ultimately polishes you and defines the kind of person you grow up to be.Recommend

  • Zalim singh

    nothing different on this side of the border.Recommend

  • nani

    indeed a rat race.dekhna taqreer ki lazzat key jo usnay kaha mey nay ye jana key goya ye bhi meray dil mey tha.ask a grammarian to translate this verse as a nani of 6 home schooling grandchildren i am all against pre kg or or kg.Recommend

  • http://karachi HH

    I went to a so called “english language” private school (the kind that you see everywhere). Got in pretty easily…and guess what, my school fee in HSC was Rs.120/- only….lolzzz. Still I’m sitting in the banking industry and have people from KGS and IBA under me..

    But I must admit that the environment you get at KGS and alike is awesome. The grooming you get over there, the manners, the way of facing life boldly (and of course, the english speaking thing, which middle clasiya like me always crave for). You cant get these attributes anywhere else….Recommend

  • Not from KGS

    It doesn’t matter where your child goes to school. What matters is their hunger for education. I know plenty of female KGS graduates that are now married with kids, have settled into a comfortable life with another grammarian (yes they tend to marry their own funnily enough) and have not put their education to further use. I didn’t go to KGS, but I continue my education and find something new to learn every day. If your child has the hunger, they will find a way!Recommend

  • Saira Abbas

    I think we should refrain from elite bashing which has kind of become a norm in our increasingly fake and Geo news driven society. I taught at KGS for a very brief period of time; I have not studied there, none of my family members are there and I don’t think that any of them would ever be but I can only say what I experienced, “An absolute joy it was”. I teach ESL, taught it in Karachi and have since taught at some international schools and I can say without a shred of hesitation that what I experienced in those copybooks for those six months in KGS, I am still searching for it. I taught at the college section at Boat Basin and every single day I wanted to salute their primary and junior section for the amazing job they had done. If competition drives you towards excellence then that should be the road taken.
    It is not at all the school’s fault for having set a standard (believe me, all the teachers I have worked with hate, despise and criticize admission policies where the so called normal schools take in whatever comes their way just for the sake of stuffing classrooms), it however is the fault of crazy parents who can not take rejection as it is supposed to be taken. Wherever there is excellence, there is a price you pay and frankly speaking, at KGS, the price is only in the shape of hard work.; their fee is nominal since they still claim to be a missionary school, they pay their teachers handsomely, they don’t make them work like animals like most other schools and as a consequence, teachers never leave granting a stability that is rare in other schools that mint money and show zero respect to their teachers or students.
    KGS is an institution that is functioning on a sound professional system that reflects in everything from admissions to suspensions to expulsions and education and whatever else there is to it. I for one can not and would not want to forget that one night at KGS where I watched their students perform a play on stage for two hours non-stop and I was in awe, in utter sense of admiration for those students but one must not forget that they were at the level that were at because they were taken in and polished to turn them into gems. If that is the end result, I would say KGS every time you ask me. Recommend

  • Hasan Murtaza

    What a stupid culture Pakistan is, that they can’t even replicate the magic of a 150 year old school? How hard is it to build another school, or another few hundred across the country, and let them improve their quality with friendly competition amongst each other–rather than identifying the one school which matters and everyone trying to push their way onto that single lifeboat.

    Hazrat Ali once said “there is no poverty worse than ignorance.” What would he have said about the ignorance of a society that cannot even manufacture enough status to bless a school to rival one established by the British in 1840, the mid nineteenth century!

    The mid nineteenth century! Recommend

  • asad

    The problem here is that so many parents are worried what society will think about their children if they do not get into kgs,when they should be thinking that their child might not get the best education possible.
    I know students from kgs who arent even able to get into a university whilst there are students who went to ‘mediocre’ schools and get into amazing universities abroad.
    its just a matter of perspective and how you view things.and i will tell you this,i have family history in kgs yet i got rejected three times from it,so even that does not play as important a role as many say it does.
    At the end of the day,and i’m a grammarian myself,it really does not matter which school you go,if you work hard enough then nothing can stop one from achieving the best,and vice versa,even if you are a grammarian and dont work to your full potential,just the name itself will not get you into a good university
    cheers,
    asadRecommend

  • Lucky

    As non-grammarian parents, the one thing we had decided not to do if we didn’t get our child admitted in kgs was to talk negative or make up excuses about not getting the admission. The whole admission process, including the interviews, were simple and basic. We ignored all the myths, which include the ‘must-take’ tuitions, not disclosing the fact that we lived in a joint family, and feeding the ‘right’ answers into our child (beta, if Aunty asks ‘this’, make sure you tell her ‘that’). We remained true to ourselves and hoped for the best. We were lucky enough that our child did get admission, but that doesn’t make him any ‘better’ than the others who applied. Luck just happened to be on our side that day. Recommend

  • mrk

    I really what this fuss is all about? What difference does it make? You can have fun through elementary school, zip through high school, go to college, get out into the job market, and work your way through very good positions such as investment banker. How is the ideal KGS track different?

    And by the way, I have news for you. Putting your child through hell for 12 years and then graduating through a supposedly top-notch foreign univ, would get you, if everything works out perfectly for the child, prepared for a $60k job abroad at most. Something that anyone going through public school abroad get could easily achieve if they wanted to. Deminishing marginal returns to the nth degree!

    Enjoy life. And by the way, how many Steve Jobs has KGS produced by the way if we really want to be the outlayers or want our kids to become one?Recommend

  • Assad A

    Its astounding to hear the things that parents say/do if their child doesn’t get into KGS as evidenced in this article. In the long run, does it really make a difference whether your child went to KGS for nursery or not? There are plenty of other schools in Karachi that offer an extremely high quality education and who’s graduates end up in fantastic universities, both nationally and internationally. Admittedly, the stamp of KGS does make life simpler when you apply but I feel that with international recognition of other schools you can get this advantage in most other schools.
    In the end I feel, an education is what you make of it, where ever you are. Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    @Mo/CA:
    Smirnov is also a mathematician. So, put the glass down.

    The best thing about this whole write-up is the use of language. It was embroidered with magnificent words. Furthermore, why turn your child and yourself into a nerve wreck over a simple school? Education should not be branded. Recommend

  • H.Masood (the writer)

    Thank you everyone for reading the essay and giving such interesting and varied feedback.

    What I have learned, during the writing of this and from reading everyone’s comments is that essentially all parents have the same end in sight: We want to try and do our best by our kids. Now whether we consider the ‘best’ for them a certain school, or homeschooling, or a school that will keep them free from ideologies or competition we don’t subscribe to, we’re all fighting the same fight and we’re kinda all in this together.

    But, of course, since we’re all so highly emotionally invested in our children and the choices we make for them, its also understandable why we’re so ready to attack anyone who has a different way of doing things!

    Keep fighting the good fight, folks. :)

    Find me on http://www.halfyourfaith.com

    H.MasoodRecommend