Stories about Learning

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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Political parties are promising jobs in their manifestos but snub education – how does that work?

Pakistan has one of the largest youth population in the world. Forty-six million of these will be voting for the first time in about two weeks; a number that is by no means small. To put it into perspective, if these voters were a country, they would be the 30th largest country in the world in terms of population. They will most likely vote for the party that has promised them jobs, and no one can fault that logic because jobs get you money and as we all know, money makes the world go around. But there is a slight ...

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Are internships a waste of time in Pakistan?

“Mind the gap.” This is a warning familiar to anyone who has ever taken the tube in London. It refers to the gap that exists between the platform and the train itself. It is also a warning delivered to all of us at university before we step into “the real world” – the platform being college and the bullet train being the corporate sector. What is this ‘real world’ we hear so much about? And why does every working professional refer to it as a world that every student is completely oblivious to and unprepared for? Did we not just spend ...

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“Like father, like son”: Are you hitting, scolding your kids because they are turning into you?

Recently, my friend narrated a story to me which shook me to the core and instigated me to write this blog. A week ago, she witnessed a close relative of hers scolding and hitting his 10-year-old nephew over the fact that the child had started using abusive words in his day-to-day conversations. She added that the outrageous part of the scene was that the man is a habitual user of abusive words himself and was also reiterating offensive phrases while scolding the child over doing so. This is where it hit me yet again, how messed up we are as ...

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If you don’t ask why…

I request a reply. Dad, please tell me, Why Is the earth not flat? Oh, I don’t know that! Why do bears hibernate? Well, that’s out-of-date! Why is the sun so hot? I’m sorry, I forgot!   Where do the trade winds blow? Come on, you should know! Do you know how TVs work? Let me call Mr Burke! Or how the seasons change? That’s out of my range!   What is the sense of smell? Quite difficult to tell! The capital of France? No, I don’t stand a chance! The speed of light? Your science teacher might!   Any clue of aerosol? It’s quite hard to recall! Any Indian folklore? I knew one before! The length of lunar years? I’ll break into tears!   Why a panda bear hides? The cause of ...

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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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Aao Parhao – Jo Seekha Hai Wo Sekhao

As part of a remembrance to Robin Williams, I arranged a showing of Good Will Hunting and invited some school friends over. After the movie ended, one of them remarked on the critical role the protagonist’s teacher, Prof Gerald Lambeau (played by Stellan Skarsgård), a Fields Medal winner, and mentor  Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams) had in his development. “We didn’t have anyone as dedicated as them. Not even close.” I had to disagree and thought back to an incident back in March 1991. The phone rang and my mother picked it up. “Hello, is this the home of Sibtain Naqvi?” a lady asked. My mother ...

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Rebuilding Pakistan: The journey of two boys

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela Too often we underestimate the importance of empathy and compassion. We find faults in others, criticise them for their behaviour, and often turn a blind eye to their suffering when it should actually be much easier to try to understand and relate. For two fresh graduates, the message was loud and clear. Imran ...

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Learning from the Indian elections, despite Modi’s win

Despite being upset about Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Modi Sarkar claiming undisputed victory in the Lok Sabha, I could not help but notice the immaculate election process that is being conducted by the Election Commission of India (ECI). To hold an election process for an estimated 814 million voters over the span of five weeks is not only a daunting process but one that is easily subjected to chaos and anarchy. However, having followed the election process diligently, I was convinced that the election process was as peaceful as it could get, even with the BJP rally fiasco in Varanasi. BJP’s ...

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No matter how old she grows, she’ll always be my baby

Recently, my daughter graduated from kindergarten. The emotions I feel are hard to describe. As clichéd as it sounds, I still remember the first time I held her in my arms. I remember being mesmerised by her dark eyes, as if they still held secrets of the world they had come from, wide awake and looking right into my soul. I remember the feeling that took over me; a feeling more powerful than love, more powerful than any other emotion I had felt before that. I don’t have a name for that emotion. Only a mother knows that emotion and understands it. It ...

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