Stories about education in Pakistan

We need to teach our children ‘how’ to think rather than ‘what’ to think

Education, much like everything else in the field of human knowledge, is rooted to philosophy. The curriculum texts, teaching pedagogies and school structures all reflect a particular philosophical premise. Be it the idealist school or the existentialist one, the pragmatist theorists or those who seek to use education for social change in the critical paradigm, education is about ‘wide-awakeness’. Today in education, a crucial issue facing us is the need to find ways of educating young persons to sensitivity, potency, social consciousness and a healthy citizenship ethos. In my journey so far as a teacher, I have been particularly impressed with three schools of philosophy: the idealist, pragmatist, ...

Read Full Post

Hindi Medium proves that English is still the language of the colonisers, except the elite are the colonisers now

When you think of language, you think in a language. For me, it’s English. It always has been. Sometimes, I wonder if my thoughts were in another language, would I be different? Would my life have turned out differently? Perhaps. You never know, that’s the thing. Hindi Medium made me realise that language has the power to change. I see it every day around me. I see it at work when I try to communicate in Urdu but my vocabulary falls short. I used to see it in school, when people mocked that one kid for speaking in Urdu because God forbid, ...

Read Full Post

The decline in Pakistan’s civil services is no longer a myth but a stark reality

Following the result of the Central Superior Services (CSS) exam every year, numerous analyses are raised, largely outsider points of view commenting on its so-called decline. Such run-of-the-mill analyses blame the dismal state of education in Pakistan, the faulty examination system, the indifference of fresh graduates in regard to joining the civil services, the constantly deteriorating quality of candidates as compared to the bureaucrats from yesteryears, (including those who happen to pass the exam). There is no denying the fact that the education system in Pakistan is constantly facing a downhill slump. Yet, this decline is often associated with insufficient spending on the sector, which to be honest, is misleading ...

Read Full Post

Why are students always relying on guess papers instead of following the syllabus?

As a teacher, the most intimidating questioning I am frequently asked is, “Miss, aapka guess paper nahi hai?” (Miss, don’t you have your own guess paper?) On one hand, it makes me feel like a lethargic potato who is probably failing at teaching, but one the other, it also feels like I am not putting enough effort into educating my students. The tragedy I face with not being able to devise a guess paper is exacerbated by my inability to apply my mathematical skills and probabilities to come up with one. This particular question often has its similar counterparts to further drive me into a phase of ...

Read Full Post

‘Aadhay Adhooray Khawab’: Exploring the death of creativity through education

Shahid Siddiqui’s ‘Aadhay Adhooray Khawab’ is like a tangible dream you can hold in your hands. You are a part of a chain and a constellation of dreams, only if you believe in the beauty of the imagination. This novel is a dazzling critique of educational practices in Pakistan. It distinguishes itself from other contemporary Urdu fiction through its content, diction, and style. The story follows the journey of a devoted teacher, Saharan Rai, who is selfless and gallant, and uses his heart and soul to fulfil his dreams. This is where it gets interesting. Rai’s dreams are universal and he illustrates the same desire that many ...

Read Full Post

Bhutto was neither a total villain nor a complete Messiah

I remember going through Stanley Wolpert’s book called ‘Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan: His Life & Times’ on this enigmatic politician. The first sentence more or less defines Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s legacy. Wolpert, while researching his book on Muhammad Ali Jinnah wrote that, during his stay in Pakistan, he found out that people either hated or loved Bhutto. He also wondered about the amazing contradictions in the personality of this remarkable politician. Today, as we stand in 2017 and look back into the strange chequered history of this country, no discussion on politics, culture, economic and social ideology, military and ...

Read Full Post

Dear misogynist from Parhlo, this is what Pakistani feminists want you to know

I came across an article on Parhlo today, and infuriated does not come close to encapsulating how I feel, so here’s my response to it. Before you start calling me a “feminazi” – listen closely. The roots of feminism lie in finding equality; it is not about disowning male rights, or putting women above, it is about finding an equal ground that pleases both genders. Questioning, or challenging or taking offense to feminism makes you a sexist, plain and simple. Have you not heard of the damsel in distress? Have you not heard of the ‘Angel in the House’? I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t because let’s ...

Read Full Post

I was 16 when I was forced to marry a stranger and move to Canada

When I was a kid, my only goal was to get a good education. I dreamt of attending Harvard or Stanford, and planned to become a doctor one day. I was the eldest of four daughters in a Pakistani Muslim family. We lived in Ruwais, a small town in the United Arab Emirates, where my father worked in an oil plant and my mother was a teacher. At school, I always stood out among the girls in my class—I was brash, clever, outspoken. I took pride in acing every test. When I brought home top marks, my father would ...

Read Full Post

“They thought I have a ‘foreign agenda’ because I teach children free of cost”

I was volunteering at a makeshift school for nomads and slum children when one day, a young student of mine, not older than 10-years-old, approached me and said, “God’s anger does not work on me.” This was the first time in my life that I had been exposed to the slum life, aside from what I saw in movies and read in books. This young soul has suffered so much and yet he still lives every day with resilience. To him and so many others like him, life is a manifestation of every day survival. Indeed, some people consider it an unchangeable fate as ...

Read Full Post

If you are a Matric student, you are ‘too local’ for a job in Pakistan

“You have a confused identity. Aren’t you from Paki-land? It seems like you’re ashamed of your roots… haha” Those words used to infuriate me. I used to think to myself, “what do they know? I fluently speak my mother tongue at home!” But I guess that wasn’t enough to prove that I am a proud Pakistani. England was home, but it had its set of challenges. I was constantly questioned on why I prefer cod and chips over chicken curry, why I prefer wearing jeans over shalwar kameez and so on. It used to aggravate me. And post 9/11 it only got worse. The questions had now turned ...

Read Full Post