KGS admission blues and the pursuit of (academic) happiness

Published: April 23, 2013

There are lesser known schools that have produced equally good, charismatic and confident students.

There are lesser known schools that have produced equally good, charismatic and confident students. There are lesser known schools that have produced equally good if not better results and, charismatic and confident students.  PHOTO: FILE

Saturday, March 16, 2013 was probably one of the few very anticipated days in the academic calendar. For many, it was undoubtedly a defining moment for their kids.

Yes, it was the day when one of the most prestigious schools in Karachi held its admission test for entry into class three.

Success would mean victory, triumph and a sense of academic achievement par excellence. Failure would spell doom, despair, depression and a social stigma – in other words – for some nothing short of a calamity.

The so called pursuit of academic excellence, if that is what we are after, comes with a heavy price – mentally, physically and monetarily. Initial preparation starts with finding a tutor who has apparently broken the code – they know what exactly to teach, how to teach it and how to make your kids the super stars that they are not.

So the hunt starts one year earlier and it’s not easy.

You sometimes need to pull a few strings, have some references and only then are the experts willing to take your child. One actually pre-screens to assess if the child has the potential to be tutored. The monthly charges can vary from anything between Rs12, 000 up to Rs20, 000. A group may consist of five to ten kids and there may be three to four groups ranging from class three to ten. Not too difficult to do the calculations of how much tax free income this accounts for.

The anxiety levels start to increase a few weeks before the test.

That’s when the appointment slips are made available and you just cannot afford to relax on that window of opportunity that exists for only 90 minutes in the morning. In this day and age when technology has transformed the world, you are still required to queue as early as 6am, depending on how unsure you are of missing the bus.

How different could boot camp have been, I wonder.

Clearing the first hurdle is the precursor to the interview for your child and both parents. One must be on their best behaviour and not forget the well-rehearsed answers they have memorised like a script for a play.

The three to four minute interview is surely good enough to assess the child’s potential or lack thereof.

A peculiar question is asked – whether the child has had any extra tutoring. I wonder if that influences the outcome because surprisingly, those kids with expert help mostly do make the final cut.

And then comes the test.

Parents drop their kids off and wait anxiously for the three hours or so to pass. Notes are exchanged once the kids are out. There are frowns on the faces of some and smiles on others.

“This was such an easy test” a kid says with overflowing confidence.

Her parents are not too sure and try to hide their apprehension with a forced smile.

Such are the pressures.

Saturday, April 20, 2013 and the results are out!

Facebook statuses are updated promptly and likes are obtained simultaneously. Congratulatory messages are sent as are consolation messages. The senses of victory or despondency become realities. Some talk of their lives being over and share a tearful story; others cannot get over the feeling of euphoria and jubilation.

Every parent strives to give the best schooling to their child but I question the parameters that define a good school.

It is important to understand how well a particular school is performing today rather than reflecting upon its glorious history and legacy as a benchmark of its current academic excellence. Prestigious schools may so be called but I fail to comprehend their standard of education when a large segment of the student body from junior section to senior section takes after school tuitions.

If the faculty is good enough why is there a need for extra aid?

If the students are good enough why do they need help?

There are lesser known schools that have produced equally good if not better results and, charismatic and confident students. Aspirants to these schools do not invest thousands of rupees in preparatory classes because apparently, that is not a prerequisite. Yes, these students also attend tuitions but that may be acceptable as they are not meant to be the best.

Mostly, such elite institutions’ stature has now become a reflection of their social acceptability and legacy rather than the quality of education they impart. Yet, everyone continues to be part of the rat race.

Abbas Haider

Abbas Haider

A banker with almost 17 years of experience currently residing in Karachi. Apart from having an active interest in sports and playing scrabble, he likes to keep an eye on social issues that effect our society.

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

  • Zohaib

    Abbas Haider, you make very valid points. Moreover, if these schools are indeed as good as they claim, why is there a need for the extra tuitions. Not pointing fingers, but these high end schools do give way to a lot of moral ambiguity, deterioration of discipline and prioirities something that I have seen up close and personal.

    I hope there is a change soon!Recommend

  • JC

    KGS is over rated.

    I don’t know how going to a certain school makes you “cooler” than another person, I mean if the only reason you feel special is the fact that you go to an elite school, then that’s just sad.

    I don’t think 8 year old kids should stress about not getting into an elite school, college is far more important, acceptance or rejection letters should be left until the 12th grade.

    A lot of parents believe that sending their kids to KGS will improve their chances of getting into an ivy league in the states, but that isn’t true, because everybody whether they be from an elite college prep in America to a private school in Pakistan has an equal chance.

    Ivy leagues have less than a 10% admit rate, that’s why most Grammarians end up going to some state univerisity in America, only a minority get into Harvard or Oxbridge.Recommend

  • http://[email protected] Guilty as

    Went through the ‘grammathon’ this year !! (Although didn’t have to stand in line for appointment slips it was rather prompt at 8 )…. The saddest part was that I started judging my own child ! As much as I disagreed I was still the rat in the race!Recommend

  • Maxwood

    wah wah and wahRecommend

  • Stranger

    Well schools can only aid so much. Its the parents at home who contribute much more to the children than the school itself. The parents should show interest and get more involved with kids.Today we need to stay ‘connected’ to our children. there are many social evils lurking around which was not there in ‘our’ days.Recommend

  • Muhammad

    Bingo! Absolutely well narrated tale, I have been through it, our 3 years efforts ended in “vain” when our kid didn’t make it to KGS. But I have no regrets, knowing that at the end of the days its neither the test nor the interview that only matters for entry into that school. The “secret” formula that I know (and I know it from the mouth of one of the former directors’ mouth) is that the list of kids who pass the test is put before the board for shortlisting, if the number of pass candidates is equal or less than the available seats all would get admission, but often the number of pass candidates far exceeds the available seats so the each of six directors get equal number of candidates to select from the list of 150 – 200 (5 – 10 per director) and in most cases all directors take out the slips from their pockets with the names of kids to be selected, so if you do not have links to any of the 6 directors chances are that your kid might not make it even if he passed the test in highest ranks !!!

    Of course my kid and his mom both were down n “shocked”, but I had to console them and tell them that KGS or for that matter no other “elite” school is absolute best and at the end of the day in longer life its the hard work of kid and his natural genious that matters. I had to tell them that Dr. Abdus Salam was refused admission in the then elite school of Lahore, Central Model School Lower Mall, as the principal declared him “Dumb” during the interview, I am sure that school will live to regret all its life for missing such a brain. Denial of admission to school didn’t deny glory to Dr. Salam.

    Schools matter but not absolutely ! its only a matter of “social status” for “facebook” moms.Recommend

  • Mehroz

    I agree with most of the points you put forth, it is true that certain schools are associated with a particular social class and the pressure being put on children is rather bizarre. However, it is worth pointing out that while there have been instances of equal or better results being produced by the lesser known schools. These are mostly a result of the student’s own ability or effort. These instances are also fairly rare in comparison. On the other hand, the prestigious schools are more likely to polish the abilities of almost ALL the students in their class and provide better exposure that btw goes beyond just grades.

    P.s. I got most of my school education at a school that can be called a ‘lesser known school’. Recommend

  • Khan

    First, I find it idiotic on the part of KGS not to increase capacity after perceiving market signals. After so many years of experience in schooling they should know how to increase capacity while maintaining (and improving) the quality of education.

    After all, other elite school systems have successfully tried to increase capacity and quality of education. Look at City School System, Beacon house School System. Both are MNCs for years now and have a very good reach across Pakistan. They have enough resources to hire specialists to aid in capacity building and improving standards of education.

    Second, I find it utterly ridiculous to put that much pressure of entry test on kids. Kids at that age should have NO pressure of an entry test to a school. In that respect, it almost sounds like a university level entry test. That is preposterous! Recommend

  • A khan

    Well said. That is how sad our state of education is. We let these schools exploit us and then we crib about being the rat in the race. My question out of sheer curiosity here is though ” were you part of this rat race for your kids”?Recommend

  • Jude Allen

    and FINALLY, I found a well-wrtten blog where all the readers (including myself) are in agreement and on the same page – goes to show, we VALUE a good education for our children and are aware what’s needed and whats not. Good job!! Cheers :) Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    A well wriiten blog….

    To be honest. I was against this my whole life in a way. The turn out of Elite universities and elite schools are not always as spectacular as they show it to us.

    When I wanted to come to Germany many of my ranking obssessed friends told me that I am doing the biggest mistake of my life and should go with them to UK or USA. Most of them spent atleast 10 time more on their education as me and at the end of the day, mas sha Allah I got the job faster and in a more reputable multinational than almost all of them. I paid all the money spend on my education within 6 months. Most of them need years to paid the amount spend, back.
    They followed the hype and agained very less in the end.
    Yes they are from a reputable institution but at the end of the day, thats just a brand name……the logical answer is completely different….
    Education should be for all and should not be on sale…..Recommend

  • Sana

    Just a comment – before I had kids I would probably label the difficult exercise of getting admissions in any good school same as above ‘rat race’ ‘competition’ etc. Having children has changed my perspective. Why shall I look at my desire to get my children in what is perceived as a good school as being part of the rat race, why not as my innate desire to do my very best for them. Kudos to all mom and dads who stood in lines, drove to tuitions (and paid for them!!) gave interviews, where ever they may be and for which ever school they may have been. Here’s to a better future for every child. Recommend

  • S a m i S a a y e r (@SamiSaayer)

    this is what happens when one makes education money making entity and an issue of status. i have studied from a semi government school and i have done reasonably well and guess what… i am not the only one. its a self created sense of competition we have created for ourselves and people who have made an industry out of education are cashing in on that. Recommend

  • R.k!

    Sir, this is such a valid point you’d made through this blog post. I myself have gone through the same thing. We siblings went to another of these high class schools just because it was a family norm. My father being a very honest government officer never had alot to spare other than just our fees. by the time i reached Alevels while my siblings were still young, my father appox paid around 70k per month. Its Sad what we need to do for gaining the SO- called better education Recommend

  • HZ

    In our British legacy, where there has always been a social divide stemming right from the kind of schooling and university one has been studied, school education is not just about having an excellent mentor but it is about the kind of crowd each such school has. Students from elitist schools may not assimilate well with the masses but if their home nurturing is high at par, they can fit into any culture without much of a culture shock. Being from such a school and also a high ranking university, I am neither impressed with show of wealth or extravagance, nor I compare my path with others. This is so because I have seen people much better than me is some aspect and vice versa. This helps me in focusing on my goals, both personal and career and excel in my chosen path. This is one aspect that you may have overlooked, which is when one has seen and experienced the best in a certain field, the vision broadens and there is more one can see rather. This is something one can learn better when your environment is good enough.Recommend

  • MF

    Pursuit of excellence in life is a marathon. Jump start is helpful, however acheiving excellence consistently is the most difficult task. Education at school, home enviornment, parental honesty and dedication, luck, with HIS support are crucial ingredients for success – So being at either of KGS, CS, BHS, BVS, HPS are important if all the above factors are in play – that is when Your-School-Turns-Out-To-Be-The-Best-School.Recommend

  • MH

    The thing with KGS is, it’s not quite the education they’re selling: it’s the network. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nice and balanced. The issue lies with the parents and not with the school and this issue is a product of society. Its not unique to Karachi or Pakistan but this is found everywhere.
    Possibly KGS needs serious competition like an Aitchison College in Karachi to bring a sense of balance into this.

  • S.M

    Spot on! Even though I don’t find anything wrong with applying to the school, I fail to comprehend the obsession with it and the assumption that the child who didn’t get through doesn’t have what it takes to be successful later in life. Is getting admission in this particular school the yardstick through which I measure my child’s intelligence and his/her prospects of success in the future? Additionally, I have difficulty wrapping my head around the tuition craze that has taken our education system by storm! Both pre admission and post! How exactly is a school one of the most privileged school in the country if its students also have to resort to after school tuitions like those of other schools? Then what exactly sets it apart?Recommend

  • littlegiant

    There should be no need for such pressure in any grade let alone in the third grade when a child is so sensitive and vulnerable. Instead, children need to be encouraged to play hard and to participate in a variety of activities. It is counter-productive – this type of pressure is not needed in school or in university also. It’s not going to accomplish much. The world is full of unemployed Recommend

  • Abbas Haider

    @ A Khan. I do not support this system. In all my years of education, I took tuition for only 3 months. I grew up in the Middle East and went to an international school. Our classes were divided on the strengths and weaknesses of students. Weak students were offered help after school free of cost. The teachers were dedicated to their cause. Maybe that’s what made the difference. You may argue that they were better paid and thus did not require to further supplement their income to which I will say then does it boil down only to money where teachers under perform to avail opportunities for tuitions. And yes my daughter did appear for the test but without the shenanigans that I wrote about above. Why did i try in the first place ? Yes, there were considerations and requests that I had to respect but the conditions laid down by me were very clear. Our entire approach was very casual with no pressure on our child or ourselves and it was not the end of our world, far from it actually, when we found out she didnt qualify. We joked about how the interview went and laughed it off and I have no qualms sharing this here.

    @ Sana. Rat Race : Fierce competition to maintain or improve one’s position in the workplace or social life.
    If this is not a rat race what is it ? People send their kids for tuitions and lie that they don’t. Friends wish each other well but want only their kids to succeed knowing seats are limited etc etc.
    I have kids and my perspective on my child’s education has nt changed from when I didn’t have kids. We strive for their best in all aspects too and we leave no stone unturned to ensure they get the best. My objection is that we are encouraging the system. If we dont create a market for these experts they will cease to offer their services. We should not suffer from complexes when our cousins kids get into a “good” school and ours don’t. Our kid can still make it to the top. Examples are aplenty. Is what we are seeking really the best or is it a mindset that we need to change ?Recommend

  • Grammarian

    The truth is, city school and beaconhouse do not compare to KGS in terms of brand. KGS has just one branch, while the others have branches everywhere in the city. The school obviously wants to keep it an elite club. As a grammarian, I would be against the school opening up multiple branches. The City School has a compromised brand because of this very reason.

    Heres some advice for all the parents forcing their kids to go through hell to get into KGS: let them be. I went to city school my entire life and was a new grammarian in A levels. A lot of new grammarians actually do better than their old grammarian counterparts in A levels. Theres no need for your kids to go to KGS (and they may just not be good enough). You have to ask yourselves, is it your ego/social status you are more concerned with, or the future of your child?
    It doesnt matter where your child goes to school, as long as they do well and you raise them to be good human beings.Recommend

  • EduGuides

    Agree with the author. There are lots of other decent schools out there. And I feel classes for preparing for admission for young kids and tuition for primary students is a waste of money most of the time , Recommend

  • Abby-luscious

    Dear writer, your honesty towards response to A Khan is much appreciated. It’s very rare that people are so honest, integral and open about schools now . You have earned a corner of my heart for your candor writing.Recommend

  • Sane

    This shows our minds are !!Recommend

  • Sameera

    @Abbas Haider:

    It’s a good blog and I appreciate that some parents have courage to define what is right for their kids and for other kids too.Recommend

  • Ali Baba

    What are these schools doing?

    “Making cream out of cream.”

    I hate all these well qualified educationist who put young and innocent children into competition. How can they judge the whole talent of a child with an entry test. Shame on parents, too.Recommend

  • A Khan

    Interesting to note that for someone who had himself been educated in the Middle East, sat their kid in the test and yet such resentment. You state you had requests to respect! were those requests also laughing and joking with you when the results came out! just a thought! The write up makes sense though and yes depicts a true picture of our society!Recommend

  • Abbas Haider

    @A Khan: Definitely yes.
    Not sure though, how my education in the ME relates to sitting my child in the test. The resentment, is for the process, the pressures, the expectations, the extent of disappointments, the tutoring, the overall standard and mindset that pushes parents to such extremes.Recommend

  • Seema

    Dear Writer,

    I completely hear you and agree with most of the things that you have written. But at the same time I do give credit to KGS and other well reputed schools for maintaining a certain level of quality in their academics and training. This is very evident in their students who are overall brighter, confident, and have better general knowledge compared to children of other schools. Moreover, they are trained to be efficient, apply their faculties and senses effectively and are better at communicating. I say this out of experience as a professional.

    Although I completely agree that the grand social status attached to these institutes adversely manifests in mannerism and etiquette of their children and sadly their parents too, but that is something which we as a society need to work on, because this sad state of affair has much to do with us being too obsessed with material gain. As a society we have become too class conscious and inadvertently turn everything into a rat race, whether it’s clothes, food, residence, or good education for our children Recommend

  • Ali Baba

    “This is very evident in their students who are overall brighter, confident, and have better general knowledge compared to children of other schools.”

    Why do the only enroll bright & confident students? As I said earlier in my comments. They are producing cream out of cream.

    “Moreover, they are trained to be efficient, apply their faculties and senses effectively and are better at communicating. I say this out of experience as a professional.”

    Can they train children from different social classes to be efficient? Why do the take test & interviews of parents?

    I don’t know what does success mean in your point of view. As far as I’m concerned, difference in schooling has nothing to with the actual success in life. This opinion is based on my experience & observation. Children from these schools can only be the machine parts of the system. Yes, they fit well but most of the people who are bringing changes and doing something productive are not from these schools. At university level everybody is equal. No matter, What was your start.Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    @Ali Baba:

    Exactly…very well saidRecommend

  • Ex-Grammarian

    You cant really blame KGS for the rat race. It is argubaly the most highly selective and competive school in the country and parents who want their kids to get the best strive towards it. It is not commercial money making entity such as City, Beaconhouse etc which have a new branch open on every nook and corner. Its an elite school that provides quality education at an affordoble cost (with ample need-based scholarships offered).

    I agree with majority students seeking after school tuitions, but then again you cant blame the school for it, its just the culture. I know a lot of students (including myself) who did extremely well with out any tutions. However its just the pressure to get absolutely the best grades that forces students to tuition (which shows in 80% A grades at A Levels).

    KGS discourages tutions and infact offers after school help and tutoring if required. There is alot of emphasis on extra-curriculars, wheter is be sports, debates, dramas or social services which helps students become a well rounded individual.

    Again I would like to rubbish any rumors about connections/sifarish for admissions! All appointments are strictly merit based. Its just a prestigious school with a rich history and the competition will remain and I guess its probably the same with other schools in the same league (Eton, Aitchison etc) Recommend

  • littlegiant

    I have seen dozens of children attend decent public schools abroad with little pressure and very little outside homework or tuition, at least until secondary school, and graduate from university and have good careers – a 6 figure salary while living in the west. Most from KGS hardly make it even that far – a few do. So how useful all that pressure throughout life? it’s a part of the larger race in Pakistan to get out of the country via higher education – it’s a heavy price to pay for it. Those who say that KGS encourages sports etc – how many elite athletes has kgs produced over its half century or more of existence?Recommend

  • Racer

    I guess Facebook moms who have little knowledge of education are more keen to enter the rat race when compared to other brands of parents. All they care about is telling their kitty party friends that their child goes to Grammar. Sad state of affairs.Recommend

  • MSG

    A Khan makes VERY GOOD SENSE about the author! If one is ‘principally’ against the KGS Admission Process, then one certainly has the option to decide otherwise for ones kids, & not be a part of the ‘rat race’ despite whatever influences and/or requests one may be challenged with. Especially true when one questions the very quality of education and competency of the faculty associated with the school in the first place.

    @ Sana – I hear you. Kudos to all parents who have struggled to offer what they (secretly or otherwise) consider the best for their child!Recommend

  • Abbas Haider

    @ MSG : As parents, the decision cannot be unilateral as there can be difference of opinion. It has to be our decision and not mine. But its simple to lay out rules acceptable to all decision makers and thats what we did. My children attend a “lesser known” school and I am entirely happy with their progress. Recommend

  • http://-- Talha Saleem

    Very True….Todays Parents and Students prefer the famous School regardless of what is their standard and what quality are they giving…. As a teacher of a well known Schooling System of a city…. I had seen a mother crying for not finding the name of her child in the list………,,

    The question is ….. Schools which are not very popular…. are they not teaching well? or the famous Schools are having foreign faculty members?

    This is only our attitude as a whole nation, we always go for the brand which is popular, and avoide testing new brands and products. For Example: only Honda or Toyota, City or Beacon…………. Brand Concious Nation…..!!Recommend

  • Seema

    @Ali Baba

    I know it might make me sound pompous but I would like to say that if by “cream” you mean children who are a notch or 2 higher in intellect or academics then they have every right to be trained and taught in an environment that further develops their faculties and they (grammarians) or the school should not be resented for it. As for tests and interviews every other school does it and i guess it is to assess whether the child and his/her parents are committed to give input that is required to meet the milestones of success as defined by each institute.

    Ali Baba I challenge u to pick an average grammarian (not the highest scorer) and compare him/her with an average student of a less reputed school. An average grammarian would stand out.

    However, having said that i acknowledge that other institutes also have produced better and successful individuals.

    But when it comes to education and health you do want to go for what you can afford to your outer most limit. If you belong to middle class and cant afford to send your child to Grammar or CAS then you do aim for convent and not a public school. If the argument of others is so logical then many public schools have also produced outstanding students, but when it comes to our children we do want the best for them that is within our reach. I guess that is why the author also tried for it.

    I would like to reinforce my point here that if we want to condemn something then we should condemn this obsession with branding everything. I also like to highlight that this snobbery value attached to Grammar is more of an outcome of parents instilling it in the heads of their children rather than the school. Recommend

  • Seema

    @ Ali Baba

    U asked me what my start was. I did my schooling from beaconhouse and Masters from Karachi University, In professional life i am doing reasonably well but when i compare myself to my peers (KGS, LUMS, IBA grads) I wish I went to either of these institutes because the knowledge and training they acquired from beginning makes them more efficient at so many tasks, whereas I had to learn them on my own through trial and error. And yes success can come through hard work for anyone but if you are trained to be methodical, logical, and hardworking from begnining, it comes relatively easier and earlier. In professional life I succeeded because I took inspiration from my peers and their working style. I consider myself intelligent because instead of resenting my branded peers I take from them what is valuable and worth learning. Recommend

  • Ammar

    I wonder if the kids know how to do coding Recommend

  • Sane

    My elder child was a grammarian and then went LUMS. While the other was not a grammarian and did not even go to LUMS. But, whatever plans both had in mind for their education was absolutely achieved. Being a grammarian is not a stamp of success or not being there is also not a social stigma These are basically parents who want their unfulfilled desire to be fulfilled through their children. Getting their child admitted in KGS they get a feather in their cap. Unable to understand………?!!
    . Recommend

  • Burhan

    ASA Khan: I agree with whatever you have said, except the part of City, Beacon, etc schools. These mentioned institutions cannot be considered even in closest vicinity/class of KGS and are only commercial organizations. Sorry if even is hurt with this, but they are pathetic schools.Recommend

  • Burhan

    I am a Grammarian and also a parent of a grammarian. I agree with what most parents have said and it is pleasing to see such sound minds and ideas. But do we walk the talk? Most of us were a part of this rat race and would we still be saying this had our children got in?

    To add, I request please don’t compare KGS with other schools. In our hearts and minds we all know KGS is miles ahead. This is no disrespect to other schools and I completely understand if someone disagrees. But we all know the truth!! Recommend

  • Sa

    I think that it is fallacious to say that grammarians are way ahead of other kids! I doubt it as their is no formula by which we can compare the performance of these kids with others. A few factors work in favor of grammarians: a set of parents who are well motivated and probably inculcation of better work ethic. Students, with the same set of driven and motivated parents, and reasonable schooling can perform well in life. However, real success of KGS lies in signalling- a better student as went to a prestigious school- and old boys’ network..Recommend

  • Batul

    the problem lies with us —-why we are going after that school —why kgs has become a status symbol—-what is so special,about kgs —and your success lies when u teach below average and bring them up—–above average ko every one can do Recommend

  • ACian

    Hahaha. Aitchison vs LGS feuds in Lahore indicate that its a bad idea :PRecommend

  • Baba Ji

    18 crore awaam … just look at the business prospects … wow …. Pakistani schools … best business in the world !!!! Recommend

  • peace

    well written blog author but i would add that this admission process, tough criteria to get admission is not only with KGS but a lot of high standard schools have the similar criteria.
    there are particular Montessori, preparatory nursery schools where kids as little as one year old are enrolled in the hope of getting admission into KGS, Bayview, Habib Public, Habib Girls, BVS, Mama parsi, St.paul, CJM, Springfield etc.

    Forget the schools, even getting admission into one of the prestigious Montessori schools that would prepare your kid for the prestigious schools have become a million dollar question. Recommend

  • Mariam Ali

    The point is that KGS only wants “ready made” kids…they don’t want to work hard on kids.
    On their sports day, only the fastest/ best kids take part in races, in their school play/ concert, only a handful of kids get good parts. There is no concept of everyone participating. They are fiercely competitive. In A levels they kick out their own students (even if they were in KGS their whole life) if they didn’t do well & take in brighter students from other schools.Recommend

  • Ghareeb Aadmi !

    What about home tuition ? Recommend

  • Jehanzeb

    @Mariam and everyone else
    I beg to differ. The school encourages the participation of every single child. Sports days in the kindergarten section have every single child participate, regardless of their ability. In the junior section every child has an equal chance to try and make it through trials into the final races. How can you blame the encouragement of competition in sports on the schools policy?. Plays and concerts up to junior school have every single student participate, not one feels left out. The main roles are given to those from the sixth grade, after auditions where each is tried and tested, given an opportunity to give it their best.
    The school works to develop children into responsible human beings. It can only do so much. People who don’t reinforce or cultivate any of the values the school aims to teach their children shouldn’t bother arguing.
    Yes, the school has an elite and prestigious history, one that grammarians are proud of, and I hope they continue to be. The school has worked hard to achieve this and has every right to be proud of it. Other schools of similar calibre founded by genuine educationists too should be proud. While the school may not take in everyone it helps those of lower social classes immensely. Everything is done to make them feel at home. Even school trips are kept to domestic travel on low budgets to make sure the entire grade is able to afford it. Other schools in the city that have grand trips abroad should be the victims of such baseless accusations.
    KGS maintains a proud history of academic excellence. Every school in Karachi treats the A level courses as separate. KGS policy clearly states that the A level program is separate, and new, with every one standing a chance to gain entry. Security deposits paid on admission whether at nursery or otherwise are returned to old grammarians as they too have to gain admission once more. Those who accuse the school of being elitist should consider the fact that many new entrants are from private and public schools most of us have never heard of, yet they are admitted on merit, because they were capable. Many are given need based scholarships which most students in KGS don’t even know exist, just so those in need don’t feel like outsiders.
    So shame on all those commenting here because they took part in the so called ‘rat race’ and didn’t make it, on those who hate on the school without any knowledge of what really goes on inside, and on those who simply hate it for having a rich history, culture and tradition of excellence, academic and otherwise, and an atmosphere that allows one to question why the bigotry, hate and facades are so common in our society. Recommend


    I go to one of the best schools in Karachi. Let me tell you this: The only thing most of the students have managed to do is crack the exams. Otherwise, most or all of the students are robots and can not think for themselves. Where are the great thinkers and great minds that are meant to lead this country? You won’t find them in private schools. The fault lies in the education system which needs to be fixed and fixed again.

    Also, most of them will go abroad and never come back. Most of the female students will get married. Recommend

  • Marium Shah

    “There are those of us who are Grammarians and then there are those who aren’t”. As a Grammarian, all I can say is we have the best teachers, the best campus and the best environment in the country for education. There’s a reason why Grammarians are a close knit and exclusive community. The majority of us do go to Ivy League schools in the US, but we also go to top universities in the UK and Canada as well. People who cannot get into KGS should not be too upset though, as it is not the end of the world. There are other good schools out there and people can still go onto be succesful in their education and careers, even without being lucky enough to become a Grammarian. However, reading most of the comments above, I find it highly amusing that those who spent months/years trying to become Grammarians, or have their kids become a Grammarian, are now changing their tune and pretending that they did not want to become Grammarians in the first place! Talk about hypocritical behavior! Recommend

  • RB

    if working so hard only to get in to KGS is not a good thing …folks please stop sending your kids to these tution centers / teachers let them be and let those children get in themselves. it is only you who are obsessing about getting in…..if you stop everyone will stop and regular kids with no extra extra feather will get into this school…..plz dont pollute the system yourself and then complain……….Recommend

  • A.

    After reading this article and most of the comments, I feel I agree with the author in many respects. Being a Grammarian and coming from a family where most of us attended Grammar School. I must state that there was nothing Grammar School taught me that wasn’t first and foremost taught to me at home.
    I’m certainly proud of my school, It did have high standards, we had some very diligent teachers who inculcated a sense of discipline and reiterated most of the values taught at home. However, in this day in age I feel that particular standard, that was associated with this school no longer remains, most children require extra tuitions and many of these popular private schools are certainly at par with each other. Your child can excel very well studying at Habib public, Bay view or Grammar. It depends on how hard you are willing to work on them. I graduated from the elitest bubble that was KGS to go on to NCA in lahore and my perspective on life changed completely! Here I got a true taste of meritocracy, being around some phenomenal talent; students who came from far flung remote areas of the country and were in most cases the first in their families to get higher education.
    Hence it really doesnt matter, what school you send your kid to, the peer pressure of being around “cool kids” and “rich kids” with be the same, the state of education will mostly be the same too.
    Give your child constant support, and raise them with good values, they will turn out awesome no matter where they study. At the end of the day all you can do is help them find their true potential.Recommend

  • Yasir

    I just graduated from KGS last June and I do not think that we think we are cooler than other kids. The school does a much better job at grooming us than most other schools.

    However I do agree with most of this article. I remember the year before the 7th grade test was one of the worst and most stressful of my life. Yes, at the age of around 12 years. Had to work with a strict daunting tutor. I realize she is a good woman now however it does my Change the fact it was an awful year. I had so much pressure on me and I wondered what would happen if I wasted the 7000 rupees a month (now much higher) by not getting in. Recommend

  • Yasir

    Also, yes I don’t want to be rude but apart from a few, the teachers were not good enough. They are sub par and we were dependent on tutors and each other for any real understanding. The school does not want to listen to its students about any thing. Here in the US, there is a student feedback system to assess teachers. No such system back home. Probably wont be since the school hates hearing they are not doing something right. Ironic considering these are well qualified administrators from the best schools in England etc.Recommend

  • meow

    I agree with what you’re saying, there is an inherent problem in our ‘private’ schooling system. However your conclusion is redundant because kids in all those private schools take tuitionsRecommend

  • OldG

    Lawn exhibitions wouldn’t be what they are if it wasn’t for the ridiculous demand. KGS admissions are likewise. We ourselves are to blame for the spectacle we have chosen to make our lives. Houses cars clothes and now sadly our children. There is a greater underlying problem here; greater than KGS and Sana Safinaz lawn. And if there is anyone to blame, it is ourselves. We condemn it; yet we are equally a part of it. And this has nothing to do with the institutions; KGS has been around for over a 100 years, and this kind of rat race didn’t exist before. I for one don’t remember being put under any pressure prior to the admissions back in the day.Recommend

  • OldG

    @Mariam Ali:
    I totally don’t agree on the ready made kids aspect. I happened to be at KGS when a blind kid took part in sports day and everyone slowed down at the finish line so he could win. And mind you, this was a kid whom no other school in Karachi agreed to take in. Because their institutions were too large and could not provide him with the personalised care he required.
    Everyone participates in sports day. Even the non sporty kids! They cheer if they don’t play, they qualify for the half point that goes to their house if they can’t be better than that.
    I was neither sporty nor overly involved – just an average student even in studies. But in my college life, the ability to juggle all the things we did at KGS, the confidence building, the competitiveness all paid off. And all my report cards before KGS had termed me “aloof”. So this stuff about “ready made kids” in my experience; is totally untrueRecommend

  • Disabled

    CAS happens to be better than Grammar because it takes in students with mental and physical disabilities that all the other schools have rejected, provides special help for them and encourages them. It also makes the normal students interact with them which allows for greater tolerance and also builds confidence. This I know because I studied there and it has made me into the confident, tolerant humanitarian I am today, that I am sure that no other school, not even the famed K.G.S. can achieve.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    excuse me, but with all the due respect, may i just ask how you think you are entitled to comment to superstitiously at any school in the world. I am at kgs, in 6th grade, and i TOTALLY disagree with you. Schools matter a lot, as much as any college.They build up a childs base, teach him the basics, and if these are wrong, then nothing shall ever be right. they teach a child how to speak, how to sit and stand. If you think these are unimportant, i have know idea how to make you see sense. Stuff you’re taught in childhood is the stuff that shall stay with you for life. Recent study has also proved that up till 9-10 yrs of age, a child’s brain is like wet clay and can be moulded to your choice. however, later, it is hard clay and much harder to change. as they say, old habits die hard.
    i sincerely request you to reconsider everything you have said and not to judge us grammarian by some of us. i do think it is natural for FEW of us to become conceited. and just please please think. don’t you think that there shall be a difference between a student from lyari and a grammarian?
    ok u OBVIOUSLY dont know HOW MUCH extra curriculars matter. they matter more than anything when it comes to admissions in ivy league universities.


  • Burhan

    Very well said. Don’t understand why KGS is being singled out. Other “big” schools have the same procedure and it is equally competitive over there, but no one blames them.Recommend

  • Burhan

    Very true. Could not agree more. Recommend

  • Yasir S

    Just another comment though it’s late towards what Mariam Shah said.

    No, most of us DO NOT get into ivy leagues. Maybe around 5 to 7 at most get into ivy league schools from each graduating class.Recommend