Stories about education

Parenting in Pakistan: An unhealthy mix of care and competition

Having lived abroad for nearly five years, I have become a keen observer of certain behavioural differences between Pakistani children, and those raised in the US or the UK. I firmly believe that cultural differences in early childhood decide who we become in our adulthood. A lot is determined by how parents and family members react to a child’s behaviour in his initial years of life, thereby instilling in him either a rightful or an inappropriate sense of what is correct or wrong. Each year during my annual trip to Pakistan, I noticed aggressive behaviour in Pakistani children which people in our country conveniently term as ...

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Indians need to stop living with their parents

Ever wondered why small town bumpkins in India are smarter than their big city counterparts? (Oh yes, they are). It’s because unlike the Indian city dwellers that shack up with their parents late into their 20s – some into their 30s and some even after marriage – the small towners come to the cities to strike it out on their own. They live alone, struggle, scour, scrounge and “find” themselves, if you like, in the process. As a contrast, the over-parented, mollycoddled city youngsters show themselves up as emotional waifs and exhibit symptoms including high-brow prudery, crabby uptightness, and sundry social attitudes unique to big ...

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Pakistan’s long distance relationship with Afghanistan will never end

Banaras Khan was eight when he came to Pakistan in 1979, shortly after the Russians arrived in Afghanistan. He was the second eldest son, who crossed the Pak-Afghan border at Mohmand by foot with only his mother. His father had two wives – and he chose to settle down with Banaras’ stepmother in Peshawar. Banaras and his mother came with nothing to a country completely foreign to them. They took refuge with an old Afghan neighbour who was already residing in a rented home in my neighbourhood. His mother borrowed some money in the hopes of starting their life again. She began to ...

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Why aren’t the citizens of Pakistan helping to fix our public schools?

Education in Pakistan refers to two types of schooling, for two different income groups: children from wealthy families go to private institutions while children from relatively poorer backgrounds study in public schools. The latter group accounts for majority of the population of our country. Public schools are better off in terms of financial considerations i.e. they have affordable fee structures for the majority, which is why they are often seen as institutes of the masses. They take into account the expenses (other than education) that most families in Pakistan incur, such as utility bills, fuel, grocery and other supplies. In contrast ...

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Dear Bilawal (Zardari), please read a newspaper so you know what Sindh is going through

Dear Mr Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, It has been reported that you are behind the move to remove some ministers in the Sindh cabinet and appoint new ones. Of course, this is nothing new, all over the world ministers are sacked and replaced if they do not perform satisfactorily. Usually what happens is that new and competent people are chosen to run the government. With all due respect, I, for one, feel that nothing will change by sacking some ministers and replacing them with others. The people of Sindh will continue to suffer due to the absolute lack of governance in the ...

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Dear Mom, I love you, but please stop forcing marriage on me

Dear Mom, You are an inspirational woman and someday I wish I could even be a fraction of who you are. But there’s one thing I don’t want to adopt from you and that is your approach towards marriage. I know you and your sisters got married in your teens because that was the correct thing to do back then and still is for most people. But you brought me up different, you made me believe education is something I should value and you encouraged me to be more confident and outspoken. I grew up with you constantly saying, “If you receive a ‘good’ proposal, ...

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It’s good to be back…

There are expats and then there are people like me, returnees. I’m going to take a literary liberty – without meaning to offend any intellectuals – and call myself an ‘inpat’. I think people like me deserve a special made-up name. Mine is a story like many others. I went to London 25 years ago to study and it took me that long to return. Not because I was particularly dumb and took 25 years to finish my education, but because the rat race rollercoaster of life took over. To cut a long story short, after 13 years in London ...

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An orphan no more

“I’m not hungry today…” I remember I said to myself just as I opened the lid of the still-warm pot resting on top of the stove. The dirty dishes, filled with leftover pieces of roti, took their place on the right side of the stove and the empty water bottles on the other side had once again told me that my family had eaten without me. The cooking pot seldom had anything left for me to eat. Usually, though, it was half-filled with diluted curry. Every evening, I was handed two gigantic, but empty bottles by my aunt, while she prepared the delicious-smelling ...

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LUMS will most definitely change you, not necessarily for the better

“LUMS is the Harvard of Pakistan”, echo the tangled throng of prospective students and parents all across the country. You take the self-proclaimed mission statement of the university to “achieve excellence and national and international leadership” at face value and assume that this is the best place to educate yourself. Should you be lucky enough to get a one-way ticket to four years at this prestigious institution, you will find yourself amidst a swarm of other sweat-stained, bright lanyard-sporting students in the heat of August during Orientation Week. During this week, you will hear every misrepresentation of this university in the book and more. Within ...

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Balochistan is far from “uncivilised” and these women prove just that!

That Pakistan has a youth bulge is well known to most informed readers, but what the youth thinks about the myriad challenges faced by the country rarely gets space in the media, especially when it comes to females from minority communities. The First International Conference on Social Sciences recently held at Sardar Bahadur Khan Womens’ University in Quetta, Balochistan, provided me with an opportunity to learn just that. SBK Womens’ University caters to around 6000 female students from all parts of Balochistan and offers up to MPhil and PhD degrees. In 2013, the university was attacked in a suicide bombing that ...

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