Stories about schools

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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Life in Hong Kong: Run or get out of the way!

It’s got a buzz, no doubt; In Hong Kong, there’s always activity everywhere. Hong Kong is basically a confusion of trends between China and the Western world. Life here is extremely fast paced and people are often rude because they are hurrying off to another direction, are on the phone and hopping off of one train to jump on another bus to take another ferry where they will walk 20 minutes to reach their homes. I’m not kidding. My own husband takes two trains and a bus to reach home every day. It’s just what life is like here. People are increasing in numbers ...

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Drone strikes kill real people; here are the ones I know

Yesterday, Senator Lindsay Graham, made the following remark: “We’ve killed 4,700.” “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al Qaeda.” And in this swift statement, all the damage caused and all the lives destroyed by drone strikes have been justified – just because Senator Lindsay “hates” it. A huge number of civilian victims of the US drone attacks in Waziristan still remain silhouettes to euphemisms like ‘collateral damage’. Their voices are muted under the constant humming of US drones circling their villages causing constant fear and immense psychological damage. They are ...

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What if I want to be an astronaut and not a doctor?

The very first profession (barring the childhood fantasies of becoming a superhero or flying jets) I was genuinely interested in Psychology; becoming a shrink, if you will, drew me like a magnet. That of course lasted maybe a few months (four or five months at the most) and this was when I was in the 10th grade. I never really pursued it nor explored it. What attracted me towards this profession was listening to and helping people understand their problems. Unfortunately the fact of the matter was (well at least what I felt at that time- I may have been ...

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Our teachers are loyal to money only, not students

“You’re no better than a prostitute.” These weren’t the words I was expecting to hear when I started teaching at Pakistan’s most prominent university. But here a retired admiral and at the time serving pro-rector was telling me that I am no better than a w****e. As anyone would, I took immediate offence to these words and asked for an explanation. His analogy was simple to understand. “Prostitutes aren’t loyal and they go wherever they get paid the most.” And as it was explained to me, a new faculty member, “That is what most educators in Pakistan do.” Although the words stung at first, as ...

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Why sending bureaucrats’ kids to govt schools won’t work

Would forcing government servants to send their children to public schools help improve the quality of education? While such a populist measure seems well intentioned and simple enough, it betrays our continued ignorance of how education works or at least how it should work. Now don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe that state schools need to be expanded and improved. I believe that schools should be palaces. However, the factors that contribute most to improving the quality of education, measured in terms of examination performance include, the quality of teachers, supportive parents and the financial standing of the student’s household. In ...

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Doctors, where art thou?

Pakistan has a count of ‘athara crore awaam’ (thank you, dear politicians, for continuously repeating this in the television talk shows) while the doctor/patient ratio was a mere 1:1,800 in 2010 – that means a single doctor catered to the medical woes of 1,800 people, and the situation has not seen much improvement ever since. The constitution of Pakistan clearly describes that the state has a responsibility, “To provide basic necessities of life, such as, food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief, for all citizens, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race.” But where does the problem lie? It lies in the fact that ...

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Note on terrorism from a Pakistani 5th grader

Every day we hear the words terrorism and terrorist. But most of us children do not know what these words mean. I looked up terrorism which means an illegal act which causes threat to human beings or property by some miscreants who take such cruel actions just to make the world fearful.  They do this just to get their illegal demands. These cruel people are called terrorists. From what I understand since the Afghan war and war against terrorism we have seen unfortunate incidents terrorism in the country as well. Hundreds of our innocent civilians and armed forces jawans were killed in ...

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Crowded classrooms: 3 teachers for 500 students

Often young minds, unaware of the notion of enlightenment, tend not to be inspired with a desire to learn, progress and achieve.  They fail to comprehend the significance of education and that its absence can lead to an irreparable personal loss.This leaves them with the ‘monotony’ of school and a mushrooming culture, of neglected nurturing, of their innate inquisitive nature. Why is this so? One of the major factors is the gradual increase in the high student-teacher ratio in public schools of Pakistan. According to the data provided by Unesco in 2008, Pakistan has the most crowded classrooms in South Asia. The ...

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Our poisoned education: Shia clothes and Sunni textbooks

When I was studying at university, during a discussion over an economic issue, my professor (a PhD) uttered these words: “Alhamdulillah, I am a Sunni, I am a Muslim.” These words took me and many other students by surprise. The bizarre logic of uttering those unnecessary words in the midst of a discussion, especially when the class comprised of students from diverse religious backgrounds, was unfathomable. Even if she considered it essential to make a reference to the Islamic economic system, she could have easily done that in a mild tone without boasting about her own religious and sectarian affiliations wrapped ...

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