Stories about students

The forgotten plight of private school teachers during COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan has not only put the lives of the masses at risk but it has also damaged several businesses across the country due to the lockdown and global recession. Pakistan’s private schools are no exception. The lockdown has placed their very existence under question because the parents of some students are unable to pay the school fees, citing the lockdown and the economic crunch as the main problem. In Pakistan, there are more than 200,000 private schools and out of these “85% schools charge a fee below Rs2,000.” There are 1.5 million teachers employed by these private schools while ...

Read Full Post

How to ensure access to education during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond

As academic institutions close across the country, Pakistan’s already weak educational infrastructure has been thrust into yet another challenge. With pre-COVID-19 statistics indicating around 22 million out of school children, countless ghost schools, and an abyssal literacy rate, the closure of schools and postponement of examinations are significant disruptions. To mitigate this disaster, the government has announced the launch of education based television channels in collaboration with Pakistan Television (PTV) and other education service providers. This move would be the first step in the right direction, with future steps potentially leading to mobile applications that are engineered to work ...

Read Full Post

#JusticeForHunain: Is this how we ‘discipline’ our children in a ‘civilised’ society?

The recent death of teenage student Hunain Bilal in Lahore only brings to light the tragic reality of corporal punishment among the countless unethical but socially accepted norms in the Pakistani society. Allegedly, Hunain had failed to memorise his lesson, due to which the teacher “punched him repeatedly, grabbed his hair and hit his head against the wall, all the while yelling at him”. As a result, the child collapsed and died on the spot. Hunain’s case is not rare in Pakistan where corporal punishment is considered the best way of disciplining at both home and school. Although a 2014 National ...

Read Full Post

Urdu Bazaar: “We have lavish shops for shoes but for books, we can’t even find space on a drain”

Mild sunlight warms the streets tightly packed with books, stalls and rows of parked vehicles. Shops aligned adjacent to each other brim with colourful books meant to appeal to book lovers. The market chaotically mixes the queries of customers and shopkeepers alike. The ancient Urdu Bazaar seems entirely unaffected by the government’s recent anti-encroachment order. Urdu Bazaar is one of the oldest book markets in the subcontinent and almost every Karachi dweller has some sort of memory associated with it. For many, the book market played a pivotal role in their childhood. For some, the market itself was their favourite play area ...

Read Full Post

Sending your child to school doesn’t guarantee that he will actually learn

In a utopian setting, the quintessential scenario for Pakistan would be to educate every child, thus leading to countless benefits, not least in relation to important indicators such as employment, health, equality and so on. Receiving “free and compulsory” education is also a legal constitutional right for every Pakistani child aged five to 16 under Article 25A. However, let’s face the harsh reality: Pakistan is unable to educate every single child. According to budget estimates, the government will only spend around a meagre 2.03% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education in 2018. This is way below international requirements. Resources are ...

Read Full Post

Because smoking damages a man’s lungs and ruins a woman’s honour

While universities around the world are trying to promote freedom of expression and invest in the development of their students, in the case of Pakistan, higher education institutions are stifling debate, cracking down on any independent thought and churning out automatons by the hundreds. For instance, they are more focused on wasting paper with unoriginal research papers, as former students of University of Engineering and Technology (UET) were recently caught plagiarising a whole paper verbatim and almost got away with having it published. International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) has stopped its students from celebrating Pakhtun culture day, while Punjab University arrested ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

5 reasons why good teachers quit within 5 years

Often a good teacher will decide to leave his or her job after just a few years. A federal study states that up to 20% of certified pedagogues of both public and private schools begin to change their minds about devoting their lives to teaching by the fifth year of their career. According to Richard Ingersoll, Professor of Education and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, the number is actually much higher. He claims that about 50% of young experts quit teaching during the first five years because they are sick of the profession. While the exact number remains to be ...

Read Full Post

How an extra-school program changed the way a seventh-grader looked at society

Beyond the Classroom Education is a program teaching school students all across Pakistan the ability to think for themselves, rather than being taught what to think. Students are exposed to several problematic societal issues through a number of behavioural activities that give them the ability to decipher between right and wrong. It teaches them how to cope with the issues at hand, and also explains ways they can make society a better and more accepting place for all types of people, using the best of their abilities. When the program was introduced to students of the Mama Parsi Girls’ Secondary ...

Read Full Post

Teachers threatening mass suicide – How did it come to this, Pakistan?

It was a despairing day in the capital, when around 1,800 teachers and staff of public schools and colleges threatened to commit mass suicide outside the Supreme Court. Having not been paid for a shocking period of over 10 months, the protestors said they would kill their children alongside them. One wonders how this is possible in a country where even low-ranking ministers have imported, luxury cars, and where politicians are on the next flight to England upon a hint of the slightest ailment. There is no doubt the state of public education in Pakistan has continued to dwindle, but ...

Read Full Post