Stories about students

My teachers refused to teach me because they “weren’t in the mood”

When I joined my high school, my fluency in Urdu sucked. My accent, vocabulary and my pronunciation of the language was so bad that when it was my turn to recite anything, the whole class would burst out laughing. My teacher never said anything to me and only corrected me where I was wrong. He would smile and tell me to go on. On some occasions, he would make sure I was the one who read out loud. Never once did I ever feel threatened or discouraged. Over the period of two years, my Urdu improved and my vocabulary got so much better ...

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And they will say, ‘Remember what happened to Naila’

She hailed from Qambar Shahdadkot, where the literacy rate is 44%, according to a report published in 2012. She came from an area where only 33% of the female population has completed higher education. Against all odds, she left her hometown and enrolled herself in the Sindhi Department at the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, to continue her studies. Currently in her final year, Naila Rind was not just an average student; she was an award winning student in her Masters class. Naila had returned early from her hometown during her winter vacations in order to work on her final year thesis, which was due on ...

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Why is Sindhi considered an inferior language to English or Urdu?

It was Friday afternoon and I was holed up in my room, surfing through the internet when my nine-year-old sister entered. She had just gotten back home from school so she was still wearing her school uniform. She’s currently in the fourth grade at a well-known school. As I asked her about her day, she started telling me about her performance in a Sindhi class test. She said that the day before the Sindhi test, she was really exhausted and didn’t feel like studying for it. She had aced it anyway. But that wasn’t the point, I asked, “How can you not prepare for ...

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Should school administrators be allowed to harass students over non-payment of fees?

While winding up the lesson, the teacher turned towards the clock to check the time – there were 20 minutes remaining. Opting for a pop quiz, he asked everyone to take out a rough sheet of paper. One of the students eagerly did so – for history was her favourite subject – but as she scribbled the answer ‘Treaty of Versailles’ to the question asked by the teacher, she saw terror approaching from the corner of her eyes. She heard the dreaded words, “Please step outside and bring your diary along.” And quietly moved toward the door while all the students stared ...

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Light lunchboxes

His daughter knocked on his door; only once. It was time for work and her school. He got up, stretching here and there, listening as individual muscles came out of slumber. After he was ready, he headed to the kitchen and opened the fridge. Each item appeared to be dripping. The electricity had been out throughout the night. He reached for the night’s leftovers and packed their lunch, first for her, and then for himself. She came to the kitchen shortly after. She was well-aware of her father’s strategies and how she ended up getting more of the leftovers. However she used to silently weigh ...

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The neglected and forgotten residents of Youhanabad, Lahore

My foot got stuck in the sewage, and closing my eyes I half prayed that it doesn’t consist of human waste. The groan from a friend watching from across the road, though, was enough to warrant a shudder from me. I had slipped and now was standing, ankle deep, in two days’ worth of rain water and human sewage. The terrifying part regarding this story is the repeated variation of this occurrence. My favourite part (yes, there was one) about these streets though, was covering our heads and making our way down the road to the rairiwala, the man who ...

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Quetta: Where hospitality has no bounds

When I received an invitation from the University of  Balochistan informing me that five of our engineering projects had been accepted for the first Invention to Innovation Summit – the first comment my director made was,  “Umair, do you know the halaat (conditions) in Quetta? Taking students there can be risky!” The 1st Invention to Innovation Summit in Quetta It wasn’t easy trying to make him understand that all universities from Sindh and Balochistan were participating; hence it was mandatory for us to attend. However, we were finally able to convince him. There were nine of us, out of which seven were visiting ...

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What’s the point of your National Laptop Scheme if I can’t read or write, Mr PM?

The Prime Minister’s National Laptop Scheme was introduced in 2014, an expansion of a previous version by the name of the Shahbaz Sharif Youth Initiative. Four billion rupees have been allocated for the scheme and more than 100,000 laptops have been distributed through the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in colleges and HEC recognised universities. As part of phase two of the Laptop Scheme, 25,867 students were meant to receive laptops by February, 2016. But what concerns many of us is, what the return on this extraordinarily huge investment under the banner of Youth Initiatives has been so far – especially ...

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My top ten memories of Pakistan

Three years is not much time in which to learn about a society as diverse, complex, and fascinating as Pakistan. However, for foreign diplomats, it is a fairly long tour. As I leave, I wanted to share with the Express Tribune readers what I hope will be an interesting and unique perspective on this great country; on some of the things that we, in the American government, have done with our Pakistani partners; and, of some of the things I have most appreciated during my time here. 1. Viewing Mughal Architecture I have lived in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan off and on ...

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What would you do if your professor called you at night and told you he’d like to see you in a sari?

It was just another day at the University Of Karachi (KU). I gathered my books in my bag, carefully putting my fingers between the dog-eared pages of another journal to get them copied from the photocopier near the computer lab. As I handed the journal to the photocopier, I noticed a man; his eyes were fixated on me as he busied himself with his genitals. Visibly disturbed, I tried to look away only to realise that the window’s reflection wasn’t of any aid as I could very well see how he was able to harass me even though he was standing three feet ...

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