Stories about government schools

3 lessons Pakistani politicians can learn from Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders announced his second shot at the presidency of the United States last Tuesday. In 2016, he lost to the then-candidate Hillary Clinton in a close contest that pitted ‘big money’ against ‘big people’. Later it was discovered that the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the organisation that oversees the nomination of the Democratic party, had heavily favoured Clinton when they were supposed to stay neutral. This left a sense of unfinished business for Sanders’ supporters who felt cheated by the DNC. Big money won that time, but this time it’s different. After announcing his run for presidency, Sanders has ...

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The flaws in our education: Why are Pakistani students struggling with mathematics?

Mathematics is perhaps the most powerful instrument of knowledge in the world. History proves that all ancient civilisations emphasised the importance of maths, and it is the one science that seeks to improve one’s ability to perceive and think. Maths may not help teach us how to love someone or how to forgive an enemy, but it gives us reason to hope that every problem must have a reasonable solution. Consequently, maths plays an important role in the development of countries because of its ability to penetrate into all sorts of human affairs, whether social or economic. Students are often weak in maths as ...

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Nation uniform curriculum: Are we compromising equity for equality?

In another move towards a Naya Pakistan, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood has announced a uniform national curriculum policy to not only ensure the quality of education, but also provide a level playing field across the country and present equal opportunity to everyone. This may sound utopian to many, but can we start celebrating yet? Let’s unearth this thought by taking a glance at the omnipresent institution of ‘schools’. How old is this institution? Impromptu responses might suggest perhaps thousands of years old, or maybe dating back to Socrates. Not only would these responses reflect our ...

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I run a private school in Islamabad, and here’s the truth behind summer school fees

Those who are all daggers against private schools and are celebrating the Islamabad High Court’s decision to stop private schools from charging a summer fee, can stop reading because a private school owner is writing this blog. But then again, it might be worthwhile for you to hear the other side’s perspective too. I find myself to be a very small player in the private school industry. A newbie, who perhaps four years ago might have been bashing private schools from the other side too. Today, I am here not to make a case for myself but for the Citys, Roots, ...

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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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Twines and toilet paper will not do: Sanitary supplies should be a necessity, not a luxury

I was studying at a public school and was in grade 11 when it happened. One day. I went to school without any underwear on and I got my period. Studying at one of the largest government colleges for girls in Islamabad, you would think that they would be able to help you in a situation like this. However, their ‘help’ came in the form of offering me a piece of twine and a toilet paper roll. They suggested that I fold in the toilet paper and the twine would hold it in. That was just one day of menstruation in my ...

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Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is the reason the state of education in Pakistan is so bad

I recently came across an Urdu newspaper in which the date was stated to be October 32, 2016. Apparently the editor didn’t know that October has only 31 days, and it can’t ever have 32 days, not even if Imran Khan wants it and threatens to lock down the whole world if it is not done. Teachers of English in our schools are not qualified to teach, which is why most Pakistanis routinely add an apostrophe before an “s” even when it is not required. Education standards have deteriorated drastically. I usually come across such phrases as “his” husband or ...

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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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Is the food at your child’s school canteen safe?

According to the World Food Programme,  “When a person is not getting enough food or not getting the right sort of food, malnutrition is just around the corner” But while trying to define the ‘right food’, one is instantly made aware of all the ‘wrong’ food that is being consumed. It’s shocking how excessively such low quality and injurious food is multiplying in the local markets and school canteens – devoid of any supervision by the concerned food authorities. The effects of junk food are evident amongst our children who face various forms of ailments. Recently, my nephew was diagnosed with obesity and ...

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Pakistan’s children are unsheltered, uneducated and uncared for

The Pakistani state treats its children with criminal neglect despite many laws and policies to protect them. The Constitution guarantees children between the ages of five and 16 the right to compulsory education; yet over six million children are out of school, and others in government and private schools receive a compromised education with little practical relevance to their lives. Pakistani labour laws, although ambivalent on what constitutes juvenility, are consistent on the fact that children should not work in hazardous occupations or long hours or at all if they are under the age of 12. Yet, children work long hours and in ...

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