Let the Aitchison legacy prevail!

Published: July 12, 2014
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Merit is more than just kinship. Who decides how this new system of meritocracy is accurate and fair? PHOTO: FILE

Aitchison College has boasted its majestic red brick buildings and traditions for over 125 years now. As we all know, generation after generations have followed the footsteps of their fathers and matriculated from the college. Recently, the new rule approved by the Board of Governors (BoG) of Aitchison College states that kinship has been abolished, so that merit may be ensured during the admission process.

In my opinion, abolishing kinship is completely absurd. I, as an old boy (a term we use for ourselves after passing out from the college) think that the college builds pedigrees. Aitchison is not just an academic institution where the only achievement you aim for is good grades. Parents from all over Pakistan send their children to Aitchison so that their children may be groomed into ‘gentlemen’, as we like to call it.

Merit was never sidelined, but neither was kinship. I don’t see the point in changing a long standing rule that has guaranteed success for these years. The new rule means that now my son will not be given preference when I prepare him for admission to the college. Hailing from a family that has attended the institute for generations, am I now to expect that being an alumnus of one of the most prestigious institutes in the country has no bearing on the future of my children? Is alumni status not worth anything anymore? All the accolades and honours that I’ve achieved so far are just mere pieces of paper? Will the college administration not honour them anymore?

As an old boy I have been taught to spread what I learnt during my time at Aitchison and who better to pass it onto than my own son. I know that I would do my best to raise my son as a gentleman because I like to believe I am one and the credit for that goes to Aitchison College. Looking at the situation from this perspective, does the honourable governor, Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, not comprehend the fact that any Aitchisonian would want to do the same? Kinship in its own way ensures that the boys being admitted are being well-groomed at home, in addition to being groomed by the institute.

The tradition of kinship is not new or unique to Pakistan; prestigious academic institutions like Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge University all practice the same.

Yes, merit should prevail at one of the most prestigious institutions of Pakistan, but who decides how accurate or fair this new system of meritocracy is?

The new system dictates that children will sit for a six hour exam and the ones who ace this written exam will be admitted to the college in descending order.

A local newspaper claimed that anyone with strong sources can get their son admitted to the college without making him sit for the admission test. On the contrary, I, being kin, had to give the admission test thrice before being granted admission. Every individual in my batch gave the written test before being admitted. What is the point of levelling such baseless allegations on an institution of its repute?

Several newspapers report that the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Lahore attended the board members’ meeting in which this rule was approved. Why does anyone who holds the GOC Lahore’s office become a board member? What does this military office have to do with a semi-public academic institution?

In my personal opinion, the governor should focus more on introducing a system based on meritocracy to the Punjab government rather than an institution that has stood by a tradition, even before the creation of Pakistan.

Kinship is more than just merit. During my time at the college, we were taught to respect peons and sweepers. We were taught to refer to them as chacha jee, thus diminishing class divide. Kinship does not create class divide, it promotes a better, more refined class of Aitchisonians.

Aadil Aamir

Aadil Aamir

An ex-aitchisonian, political and religious history buff and a passionate equestrian.

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