Stories about students

Have the British Council and CIE become moneymaking machines?

Recently, the British Council of Pakistan dropped an email saying that I was required to visit its office to collect my Cambridge International Examination (CIE) certificate. As the scheduled time clashed with my university hours, it was almost impossible for me to go myself. However, when my mom called the office to ask if she could come and collect it for me instead, the person answering the phone said, “No. Your daughter will have to come and collect it herself. We need her identification card. We are not dispatching the results this year.” I had no choice; I direly needed my ...

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‘Halal’ education in Pakistan: When ‘pig’ in a nursery rhyme is taboo

As certain words and concepts in English are out of their range of experience, my students, coming from an underprivileged background, find it difficult to understand or accept them. With English nursery rhymes for example, since Jack was remiss enough to break his crown, the girls thought he and Jill were king and queen, until I explained otherwise.  Humpty Dumpty on the other hand continues to be viewed with deep distrust, however much I pleaded his cause. It isn’t, after all, normal to be an egg person. The resultant doubt of his being quite kosher creates a degree of disquiet. If ever Humpty wanders ...

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I finally escaped…

The days of my four-year-old relationship were a mixture of contentment, depression and confusion at my inability to understand what he was saying. As days passed, I felt that he was becoming more possessive and controlling than ever and I wasn’t really sure if I could cope with his long list of demands anymore. There were days in those four years when I spent sleepless, agitated nights trying to understand what he really wanted out of me. I was more than willing to adhere to his demands but by the end of it, I felt more exasperated and tired as ...

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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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Balochistan bleeds: A Saturday that shook the province to the core

Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University is the only women’s university in Quetta. It was established in March, 2004 and approximately 3,000 female students are currently studying at this university. Last Saturday, something tragic happened that left these students scarred for life. Now, they worry if they will ever be able to pursue their dreams. Like any other day, students attended their classes, packed their bags and switched on their cell phones to mark the end of their school day. They were chatting, laughing and bidding their friends farewell as they made their way towards the bus that would take them home. ...

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Intermediate exams: My story of the invigilator who let us cheat

The credibility of the Pakistani education system is often under question. Religiously, every year various television channels air reports showing images and videos of students blatantly and fearlessly cheating in supposedly ‘prestigious’ board examinations. However, what worries me is that nothing comes out of it – the same practice occurs the next year too and then the year after. I am currently taking my HSSC-II exams under the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE). Although the FBISE board is considered to be better than other local boards, I recently experienced something that left me speechless. The exam centre allocated to me ...

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Horrors of 2007 in Swat: We need the Army

Yesterday I was reading The Express Tribune, when my eye caught an interesting statement made by the new elected chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). He was boldly talking about pulling out the Pakistan Army from the Swat. I will refrain from criticising any party directives or policies here; all I want to do is to provide a clearer picture of the situation in Swat, and let the people be the jury of such an action. I remember when the Pakistan Austrian Institute for Hotel and Tourism Management (PAITHOM) was targeted by the Taliban in the Swat valley in August 2007. This kind of Taliban was ...

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When Intermediate students must fight just to take their exams

On Tuesday morning around 10am, with the sun in its full glory and waves of hot air making it impossible to stand outside, I was in the court room of the Lahore High Court awaiting my turn. As I stood there, I noticed teenagers, around 16-17 years of age, standing in the court room looking baffled. I wondered what reason had brought them here as this was certainly an unusual sight. My curiosity subsided when the reader of the court called out a case and a crowd, including these teenagers, paced towards the rostrum. These children were students of FSc/FA/intermediate, ...

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An open letter to the British Council

To whomever it may concern, I write this to you in hopes of finding answers to my queries. We have been informed that there was a breach in security of the Islamiyat and Pakistan Studies exams, outside Pakistan. Due to this, all students who had earlier written these exams, have to take them again in less than 10 days! Below is the new schedule for the exams: I would like to ask you what students have done to deserve this fate? Why should they have to suffer if the British Council was incompetent? Also, why has it taken so long for the students to be informed? If ...

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Student unions — not the bigger issue

Should student unions be restored? For half of the students studying in state-run universities, this is an important question. As for the other half, the ‘should’ in the statement ought to be placed after union, making it read ‘student unions ‘should’ be restored, therefore, making it a statement with no ifs, ands or buts. Since Ziaul Haq imposed a ban on student unions, the dynamics of student politics have changed completely. From politically charged students to violence-driven student wings, there has only been one losing party — those students that remain ‘neutral’. One often wonders as a student what platform he ...

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