Stories about education

Pakistan, where security and justice are only illusions

Public security measures taken in Islamabad are often regarded as anathema. A few years back, the police checkpoints and barricades around the city made our once-serene little town look more like a sister city for Baghdad than Ankara. Of course, recent rains temporarily made the capital resemble another one of its sister cities — Venice — but that’s a separate story. The checkpoints around town have fallen in number over the last couple of years, and especially since the new government came in, but the large barricades outside some offices, schools and embassies remain, despite the fact that most of these ...

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‘Halal’ education in Pakistan: When ‘pig’ in a nursery rhyme is taboo

As certain words and concepts in English are out of their range of experience, my students, coming from an underprivileged background, find it difficult to understand or accept them. With English nursery rhymes for example, since Jack was remiss enough to break his crown, the girls thought he and Jill were king and queen, until I explained otherwise.  Humpty Dumpty on the other hand continues to be viewed with deep distrust, however much I pleaded his cause. It isn’t, after all, normal to be an egg person. The resultant doubt of his being quite kosher creates a degree of disquiet. If ever Humpty wanders ...

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All in a day’s work: The modern Pakistani (super) woman

If you are a woman who belongs to the circle of society that sees itself as urban and educated, you will most likely find yourself adequately qualified with a degree and then promptly married off within a few years of working. Of course, that is if you managed to put your foot down in the first place to demand that you be allowed to work before marriage. Upon assuming marital responsibilities, it is but natural that your degree and work are pushed to the back seat, because now you are expected to take on domesticity as your foremost occupation. Or so ...

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FATA? Is that where tribesmen are cannibals and women are slaves?

Over the years, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA) have been a hot topic of discussion, but for all the wrong reasons.   We, the tribal people, have been termed as ‘wild’ and are somehow depicted as sub-human. Our women are often at the receiving end of pity because they are believed to be subjected and persecuted. Where to start and where to begin here? Through this post, I would like to introduce you to the Fata I have spent my entire life in by busting some popular myths about this region. Myth 1: In Fata,women are to remain illiterate and house-bound Please do ...

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Man behind ‘Red-brick blocks’

The efforts of Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, famous not only for his street politics and outspoken nature, but also for his generosity towards educational institutions for girls in Rawalpindi, are laudable. The logic behind the presence of a Sheikh Rasheed Block at almost every school or college for girls in the constituency of NA-55 is not known to many, especially since these blocks aren’t found in any colleges for boys. Sheikh Rasheed won in the elections held this year. Sheikh Sahib mentioned at a prize distribution ceremony at Viqar-un-Nisa Post-Graduate College for Women a few years back that his colleague(s) brought several ...

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Meera ji won me over, with her English and her heart!

As a child and a youngster, I barely knew that there was more to life than using your proficiency in English as a status symbol. I was born and raised in a family where the accuracy of your English was the most important value. After an exhausting and detailed process of school selection, I was put in a schooling system that charged my parents a monthly fee exceeding grocery and food expenses for the entire house. The top family fact was repeated every other day for our benefit: “Ammi holds a Masters degree in English Literature!” Even around me, rich farmers wanted their offspring to ...

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Admission packages and taking students for an expensive ride

It’s that stressful time of the year when students are excited and anxious at the same time; the transition between O’levels and A’levels isn’t easy. Why you might ask? Well, it’s upsetting to many students that their parents have to put down obscene amounts of money at different A’level schools to ensure that their children have a slot to study there once their O’levels are over.  Yes, you read correctly. Schools have made a business out of students’ admission dilemma. They take advantage of our helplessness by asking for tuition fees and a security deposit in advance. However, what they fail to ...

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Our new, increased education budget is a victory for Malala and every Pakistani

We have never given a toss about education in Pakistan. This is not a blanket statement but a fact pretty easily verified if you look at statistics of literacy in this country or the work done on education in our sixty year history. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) puts our literacy at 56%, but also reports that the largest part of our nation which is the rural Pakistan has more than 70% illiteracy, when our regional neighbours like India and Sri Lanka boast literacy rates of around 75% and 91%. In fact education is such a huge priority ...

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Education only panacea to current mess

Today, Pakistan finds itself in the quagmire of violence, uncertainty, and despair, mainly because of its shattered and obsolete education system. A recent report by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) states that Pakistan is number two in the world with 25 million children out of school, coupled with an astronomical dropout rate. This gloomy picture exists because of the oppressive socio-economic conditions that have fostered impoverished living circumstances, monopoly of resources and concentration of wealth in a few hands. State institutions, occupied and run by a handful of feudals, have shirked their responsibility to ...

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Drinking straight from the tap and courteous officers: Surprises in the US

I have always wondered why every other Pakistani is so heavily influenced by the West. Was it the media or was there really something impressive about them? I have to say, after my visit to the States, I have fallen in to the same trap. Here is my story… As I landed at the Los Angeles International Airport, I stood in the immigration line, patiently waiting for my turn. A few minutes later an officer called out to me from a distance and asked me to leave the line. I did as I was told to and the officer slowly walked up to ...

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