Stories about education

Teachers threatening mass suicide – How did it come to this, Pakistan?

It was a despairing day in the capital, when around 1,800 teachers and staff of public schools and colleges threatened to commit mass suicide outside the Supreme Court. Having not been paid for a shocking period of over 10 months, the protestors said they would kill their children alongside them. One wonders how this is possible in a country where even low-ranking ministers have imported, luxury cars, and where politicians are on the next flight to England upon a hint of the slightest ailment. There is no doubt the state of public education in Pakistan has continued to dwindle, but ...

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Malala vs APS survivors: Do our children have to compete to be our heroes?

It was in 2014 – while I was studying for my Masters in Europe – that a German classmate of mine, upon getting to know I am from Pakistan, showed me a picture of Malala Yousafzai receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. I can recall chatter in the classroom of European students about Malala’s bravery, and the hardships she faced as she pursued an education in Pakistan. This was one of the rare moments of my life when I took great pride in belonging to the same country as Malala, and for all the activism that I do, including this very piece, I believe ...

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When giving your child quality education only costed Rs10

During the 1950s, I was studying in a missionary school (St Patrick’s). Many people in position of power have studied from the same school, such as a president, a prime minister, many army officers, government ministers and the famous Indian politician LK Advani. I still remember how the school fee at that time was only Rs10. But one day, in 1956 or thereabouts, the fee structure was changed. For some boys, the fee remained at Rs10, for some (like my brother and I) it was raised to Rs25, while the rest had to pay Rs37. Even though the school was ...

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Not all Indians are rapists just like not all Pakistanis are terrorists

As a Pakistani, I always thought of the Indian media as anti-Pakistani and excessively nationalistic. So when I recently got the opportunity to work with Indian journalists, I was not sure what to expect. I was on my way to London for the Chevening/South Asia Journalism Fellowship. The program brought 17 leading journalists from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Maldives to live and work together in London for two months. Getting off the plane at Heathrow Airport, I wondered what it would be like to have a frank conversation with an Indian journalist. India is almost four times the size of Pakistan, yet their news media seem to be obsessed ...

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The fault in K-P’s education system cannot be attributed only to PTI

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been witnessing a successful stint in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and it went on to claim that the education sector in K-P has improved greatly under their tenure as well. I concur with the previous statement since it is evident that people in K-P have begun to trust public sector schools more, so much so that the K-P Minister also admitted his child into one of these government-run public schools. Education remains the top most priority of all governments, specifically since 9/11. This is because the Pakistani government and international forces realised that the root cause of militancy in this particular region could be due to the lack of basic education. Numerous ...

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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, ...

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As a South Asian living in the UK, my vote goes to Jeremy Corbyn

Last week, I found a pamphlet of a budding political party innocuously placed next to my door. It embossed a pulp and a round South Asian face wearing a blue tie. Or was it a purple tie? I cannot remember. The party manifesto intrigued me the most. Notwithstanding the poor grammar, which showed the carelessness on part of the party candidate, it was the ambitious claims that interested me. As a Member of Parliament (MP), he promised to nationalise transport, improve health services, reduce housing cost and, wait for it, improve global trade. The manifesto’s language did not only lack grammar, it ...

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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 ...

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Budget 2017-2018: Is Pakistan really on the upward trajectory?

With much fanfare and hoopla, Ishaq Dar and company announced the annual budget for the nation this past Friday. It was budget as usual, delivered with haughty claims of turnarounds and opportunities within reach. Even before the budget had been announced, the Ministry of Finance had been subliminally pushing figures into the media to soften any surprises. While Pakistan missed its growth target of 5.7% from last year, it still achieved a growth of around 5.3%. This puts the country in the company of companies that are over $300 billion dollars in size.  The year over year (YoY) growth, while lower than the target, is still the ...

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The child marriage legislation is a step in the right direction, but will it be implemented?

Marriages are big business in Pakistan. It is a time of hope, happiness, faith and love. Such a memorable event can easily turn sour when the parties getting married are underage. To curb this heinous act, legislation has been passed by the National Assembly, aimed to reduce child marriages by ramping up the severity of the punishment.  Instead of being imprisoned for up to three years, individuals involved in arranging child marriages face a 10-year imprisonment with a one million rupees fine. This new change in the law seems to be a serious effort on part of the government to tackle this insidious practice. Although on ...

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