Stories about students

The neglected and forgotten residents of Youhanabad, Lahore

My foot got stuck in the sewage, and closing my eyes I half prayed that it doesn’t consist of human waste. The groan from a friend watching from across the road, though, was enough to warrant a shudder from me. I had slipped and now was standing, ankle deep, in two days’ worth of rain water and human sewage. The terrifying part regarding this story is the repeated variation of this occurrence. My favourite part (yes, there was one) about these streets though, was covering our heads and making our way down the road to the rairiwala, the man who ...

Read Full Post

Quetta: Where hospitality has no bounds

When I received an invitation from the University of  Balochistan informing me that five of our engineering projects had been accepted for the first Invention to Innovation Summit – the first comment my director made was,  “Umair, do you know the halaat (conditions) in Quetta? Taking students there can be risky!” The 1st Invention to Innovation Summit in Quetta It wasn’t easy trying to make him understand that all universities from Sindh and Balochistan were participating; hence it was mandatory for us to attend. However, we were finally able to convince him. There were nine of us, out of which seven were visiting ...

Read Full Post

What’s the point of your National Laptop Scheme if I can’t read or write, Mr PM?

The Prime Minister’s National Laptop Scheme was introduced in 2014, an expansion of a previous version by the name of the Shahbaz Sharif Youth Initiative. Four billion rupees have been allocated for the scheme and more than 100,000 laptops have been distributed through the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in colleges and HEC recognised universities. As part of phase two of the Laptop Scheme, 25,867 students were meant to receive laptops by February, 2016. But what concerns many of us is, what the return on this extraordinarily huge investment under the banner of Youth Initiatives has been so far – especially ...

Read Full Post

My top ten memories of Pakistan

Three years is not much time in which to learn about a society as diverse, complex, and fascinating as Pakistan. However, for foreign diplomats, it is a fairly long tour. As I leave, I wanted to share with the Express Tribune readers what I hope will be an interesting and unique perspective on this great country; on some of the things that we, in the American government, have done with our Pakistani partners; and, of some of the things I have most appreciated during my time here. 1. Viewing Mughal Architecture I have lived in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan off and on ...

Read Full Post

What would you do if your professor called you at night and told you he’d like to see you in a sari?

It was just another day at the University Of Karachi (KU). I gathered my books in my bag, carefully putting my fingers between the dog-eared pages of another journal to get them copied from the photocopier near the computer lab. As I handed the journal to the photocopier, I noticed a man; his eyes were fixated on me as he busied himself with his genitals. Visibly disturbed, I tried to look away only to realise that the window’s reflection wasn’t of any aid as I could very well see how he was able to harass me even though he was standing three feet ...

Read Full Post

As a student of the Matric system, I can vouch that Pakistani textbooks are horrendous!

According to the World Bank data, in the years falling between 2011-2015, only 2.5 per cent of Pakistan’s total revenue was spent on education. This miserliness and misappropriation of the country’s priorities towards education is apparent in the sad state of its textbooks. The education sector is barely using its funds to invest in publishing new versions of textbooks, and spares it only to republish the out-dated versions every year. Having been a tuition teacher, I have noticed that the Pakistan Studies textbook by Professor Abdul Qadir Khan has been republishing its very first edition of the book since 2005. ...

Read Full Post

The length of my sleeves has nothing to do with my ghairat

A university in Faisalabad has decided to impose a clothing restriction on its students and staff. Like always, the opinions on it have now been divided into the two most common categories: the beyghairat (shameless) liberals and the ghairat brigade (moral brigade). The beyghairat liberals argue that such a code is superfluous and ridiculous. They believe that enforcing such a code is unnecessary considering that the students are adults; they can decide for themselves what is right and wrong. They don’t need a code like this to try enforcing such decisions. The ghairat brigade supports the implementation of a dress code, ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

Learn Smart Pakistan: Introducing innovation in teaching with boot camps

As part of our national non-profit initiative, Learn Smart Pakistan conducted two teacher boot camps to help build skills in lesson planning and learning games among selected teachers in Pakistan. The boot camp included a bonus session on online mentoring for teachers participating in the digital challenge. Since 2014, we have been sponsoring a series of educational activities for ninth grade students and teachers under the banner of Learn Smart Pakistan (LSP). As a part of LSP 2015, we conducted, for free, two Teacher Boot Camps on June 15, 2015 at the Islamabad Club Pakistan. The boot camps enabled teachers to strengthen their capacity and ...

Read Full Post

“If you want to teach here, you have to wear a burqa”

“You just have to wear a burqa inside the school; you are free to take it off when you leave the school premises,”said the principal of a Karachi-based school while interviewing a candidate. “It’s just a garment,” thought the candidate, and a garment that was helping her get a higher salary than all the other schools. So she signed the teaching contract and took the burqa home with her. All day at home, that burqa in her bag haunted her. How could she don something all day that represented something she hadn’t fully accepted in her heart? Wasn’t she lying to impressionable children? Wasn’t it hypocritical of her ...

Read Full Post