Achievers despite heavy odds [3 of 3]


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Published in: on 02/09/2012 at 11:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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Achievers despite heavy odds [2 of 3]


Undeterred by excessive power outages and financial setbacks, a ‘tandoor’ boy namely Mohammad Mohsin Ali — a private candidate from Hafizabad district of the Punjab province — braved all odds to clinch first position in the BA/BSc examinations of the Punjab University with a record 688 marks out of total 800 marks.
Above: Mother of Mohammad Mohsin kisses her son on August 11, 2012 after he clinched first position in the BA examination of the Punjab University Lahore.
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ANOTHER PAKISTAN

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by Mubashir Akram

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A boy who works at a tandoor since age 14 tops nationwide BA scores. His record again proves Pakistanis is a nation waiting to be unleashed but is held back by an unworkable political system.

Let us be introduced to real Pakistanis who are in a majority. Let us not pay too much attention to what those who are overly-critical of Pakistan, let us stop emphasize the negative side of Pakistan and now and then have glimpses of the positive side of Pakistan, and this country has many positive features.

In the newspaper, we have all read about Muhammad Mohsin and Kanwal Latif who secured first and second positions respectively in the BA exams of the University of Punjab. Both have brought honor and pride to their parents and their families, and to tens of millions of poor, lower-middle class and middle-class Pakistanis by courageously defeating insurmountable odds to get where they are.

Mohsin, the eldest son of his family, helps his father by working at a tandoor, where he makes a meager income despite the exhaustion and fatigue involved in the work, not to mention the heat. And he has been doing this for seven years. He was born and grew up in Hafizabad, a city in Punjab where life is brutal for poor people. So Mohsin went through a hard life since early childhood.

Now nearly 21, he has been working at the tandoor since he was 14. His usual workday stretches to nearly 18 hours, with no day off in the week. It does not need to be mentioned that in the kind of work that he does, there are no bonuses, annual leave and medical coverage.

Despite strong opposition to his studies by his own family and his relatives, he continued to do what he wanted to do: pursue his education so that he could receive the Bachelor of Arts degree. His father even punished him for “wasting time” in studying, rather than earning more to support his family.
Studying, after all, is not a source of earning, and his family needed every penny they could get to make both ends meet. Many times Mohsin’s books and notes were thrown away, but he somehow compensated for these losses.

He studied secretly when he could not do it openly, he told me. And yet he arrived at the tandoor at five in the morning to start work and found time for studies with great difficulty.

His moment of glory came on August 10 when he stood first in the university exams. Soon after this was made public, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced a decision to bear his further educational expenses in the future and allotting him a home in his Aashiana scheme.

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf announced a reward of one million rupees for him. Mohsin has requested the chief minister of Punjab to give the Aashiana home to someone who is needier than he is. Imagine a young man who has been receiving daily wages saying the home allotted to him be given to someone else.

The second-position holder, Kanwal Latif, is a resident of Shahdara. Her father works at a hardware shop and makes a meager Rs. 13,000 per month. Her elder brother, once a bright student of the ACCA, gave up his education to get a petty accounts job to support her and their two younger brothers.

Her comments in a news show on a TV channel showed what a fine young woman she is. She came across as contented, despite her difficult life, and hardworking.

Above all she did not brag about her achievement despite all the difficulties she faced. She started to cry when she mentioned the sacrifice her eldest brother had made for her and the whole family.

Thank you Mohsin. Thank you Kanwal. So long as Pakistan has sons and daughters like you, we are destined to move forward.

Mohsin and Kanwal are part of a long list of Pakistani achievers who have emerged during the past decade.

This decade was dominated by the US-led war in Afghanistan and the consistent negative media coverage of Pakistan primarily driven by the American media.

As the US media demonized Pakistan for political reasons, it detracted the world from seeing Pakistanis as a hardworking people trying to improve their lives like people do everywhere.

The real story of Pakistan is the one that Shafay, Arfa and other smart and hardworking Pakistanis epitomize, a country where ordinary Pakistanis would excel if not suffocated by failed civ and military politicos whose faces haven’t changed over the past quarter century and their political parties have turned into armed militias and family holdings threatening to turn Pakistan into another Lebanon.

Unlike a failed democratic system, ordinary Pakistanis are the engine that drives progress and creativity in Pakistan.

This year, six universities of Pakistan won positions in the list of top 300 Universities, according to QS World Universities Rankings 2012. Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) UK is the world’s most renowned and prestigious ranking agency.

This year, rap song Islamabad II became a sensation, as pop music in several Pakistani languages, including Pashto, Sindhi, Punjabi, and the national language Urdu attracted wide following outside Pakistan.

Also in 2012, a Pakistani scientist was honored by the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) as the Scientist of the Year for his pioneering work in the cotton biotechnology sector. This was also an honor in a way for Pakistan’s progress in civil nuclear science, since honored scientist, Dr. Yusuf Zafar, is a director general for agriculture and biotechnology at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

Contd…

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Published in: on 02/09/2012 at 10:29 pm  Comments (2)  
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Achievers despite heavy odds [1 of 3]


Mohsen Ali, who appeared as a private candidate in the B.A. exams held by the Punjab University, Lahore, and topped in the province belongs to a working class family and earned his livelihood for his family by working at a Tandoor.
He used to live in a room nearby a “tandoor” that he shared with more than a dozen laborers. While his fellows slept or watched TV, Mohsin used to study. During the hours of load shedding, he used to work at the “tandoor”, which earned him upto Rs.400 a day for bearing his study’s expenses.

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ANOTHER PAKISTAN

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by Nayyar Hashmey       

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Ali Moeen Nawazish [AMN] is a columnist at the daily Jang Lahore. His Urdu column “Daur-e-Nau” or The New Age appears every week in the said daily. Every time he puts up his column, it has a special message for his readers. In one such column on August 12, he related the life story of a car washer named Akbar.
Ali Moeen who himself has been a top achiever is notable for passing 23 A-levels, which is a world record.

Ali Moeen Nawazish

He later graduated from the Trinity Hall, Cambridge, England.

In his column that I am mentioning here, is titled, ‘Let’s find Akbar’. Akbar is a car washer, a common poor Pakistani, who every day leaves his home to earn bread for the family. The man comes to a place near the shady trees in a not so called posh area of Islamabad, but a way side place along a nullah. Once on his workplace, Akbar takes a peepa [an ordinary canister] fills up with water from this nearby drain and would wash the cars his clients bring to him.

This Akbar, as I said, is a poor hardworking Pakistani fella who washes clients’ cars with such an alacrity that once a customer comes to him for washing of his car, he would always come to him and him alone.

By passage of time, so goes the story from Akbar’s real life, the number of his clientale increases and because of the hard work and sincerity he puts into his job; it increases many folds. Some years pass and then his work increases to such an extent that he also involves five of his young sons to assist him in his job.

Now all males in the family, the father and the sons are doing this job and their reputation spreads far and wide in the capital, so much so that even the top notch bureaucrats from Government of Pakistan, drivers of foreign diplomats stationed in Islamabad, Assembly members and ministers also send their cars for washing, polishing etc at Akbar’s place.

During all these times, Akbar never does compromise on the quality of work and service he provides to his clients. With the hard earned money, Akbar now is saving funds for his children, marrying them and finally to proceed to Makka for the Hadj.

In this petty and dirty job never does Akbar ask any one of the top notch guy from the GOP to help him for a white collar job either for his own self or for his kids.
With the same zeal that has become a hallmark of his work and service, he has now succeeded to get his sons married and two kids have been self employed as taxi driver and rent a car service. Its Akbar’s share savings with which he helps his two sons to buy their own cars for plying as a texi cab and rent a car service .

Akbar is still doing this job at the same old place, along side a drain washing the cars of his clients, who are so satisfied from his service that they won’t compromise switching over to any other car washer in the city.

Akbar’s story is the story of many poor Pakistanis who toil day and night, never stretch their arms to get some favour, either in cash or in kind. Its these Pakistanis, the sons of this land, who make me, you and all those who believe in the integrity, the sustainability and long life of our dear homeland, proud of our country and of ourselves.

AMN very rightly concludes his column with the sentence “Aao Akbar ko talash krain”. And when he says this, he means the awfully perverted governance in Pakistan which so badly needs a man like Akbar.

Having gone through Ali Moeen’s column, I further traced some young boys and girls, the Pakistanis who like Akbar toiled day and night, despite of all the odds they had in their way, to achieve what they wanted. This is the story also of Mohammed Mohsin and Kanwal Latif who respectively secured first and second position in Punjab University BA examinations.

Fellow blogger Ahmed Qureshi of PakNationalists adds very pertinent comment on achievement by both Mohsin and Kanwal. So writes AQ…

Thank you Mohsin. Thank you Kanwal. So long as Pakistan has sons and daughters like you, we are destined to move forward.

Move over Bill Gates, there’s a new whizz kid in town and he really is a kid. Gates may have been the world’s youngest self-made billionaire but Shafay Thobani, 8, could be his up and coming rival after becoming the world’s youngest Microsoft specialist.
The boy from Pakistan has mastered complicated internet protocol and domain name systems to become a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) in Microsoft Windows 7 Configuration and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2.

The real story of Pakistan is the one that you, Shafay, Arfa and other smart and hardworking Pakistanis epitomize, a country where ordinary Pakistanis would excel if not suffocated by failed leaders whose faces haven’t changed over the past quarter century and their parties have turned into armed militias and family holdings.

Despite such failed governance, our boys and girls, ordinary Pakistanis are the engine that drives progress and creativity in Pakistan. Long Live this Place of Saints, Long Live Pakistan and Long Live the people of Pakistan. 

Contd…

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Title image     Image ShafayThobani & caption

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We at Wonders of Pakistan use copyrighted material the use of which may not have always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” only. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.
 
Published in: on 02/09/2012 at 10:23 pm  Comments (3)  
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Pakistan ruined by language myth


The language paradox in Pakistan has undermined our education standards. With no well-defined language as a medium of instruction policy, we have a fractured system that divides society. There is though an excellent English-based system in the private sector, yet it is expensive and caters for a small wealthy elite. Children from the middle and lower-middle classes go to second-tier private schools which charge relatively modest fees. But these adopt a strange mix of languages while pretending to be English-medium. Why else would you see schools in the shantytowns of Karachi announce their Anglicised names and the fact that they are “English-medium” in Urdu script? The teachers explain in their mother tongue while teaching from English language textbooks from which the students plagiarise and memorise passages.
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CURRENT LANGUAGE PARADOX IS UNDERMINING OUR EDUCATION

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by Zubeida Mustafa

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Last year I wrote a book highlighting the crisis in Pakistan‘s education system caused by the way languages are used and taught. Its publication prompted one critic to remark that I was trying to “backwardise” the children of Pakistan. Another said that language was not the problem; it was what we taught that needed to be addressed.

These were typical responses from highly educated, fluent English speakers. They have glorified the English language in Pakistan to the extent that all logic has been put aside. But they wield great influence over public opinion and have even persuaded policymakers that the country’s education system can be fixed by hiring teachers competent in English. Such teachers are hired by exclusive private schools, which are beyond the reach of the majority. So proficiency in English automatically becomes the preserve of the affluent.

Since I have been more concerned about the majority’s problems, I have pleaded the case of the underprivileged by stating that children must initially begin their schooling in their own tongue, with which they are familiar. This will help their cognitive development and inculcate critical thinking. It will also enable them to be articulate participants in the construction of knowledge in the classroom and discourage the culture of rote learning. English should be introduced at a later stage and taught as a second language.

With the exception of a small minority of children who are bilingual even before they begin school, teaching children in a language other than their mother tongue in the early years does them harm, no matter how good their teachers may be. This approach robs the child of the natural advantage she has in her home language.

A child begins “acquiring” language from her environment soon after she is born. Children have already gained three or four years of language experience in their mother tongue when they start school. If English is to be the school language, these children lose this advantage. The benefit goes to a small minority that is bilingual from the start by virtue of their parents being the products of exclusive English-medium education.

Such is the power of myths about language in Pakistan that a public demand has been created for English. People believe that English is the magic wand that can open the door to prosperity. Policymakers, the wielders of economic power and the social elites have also perpetuated this myth to their own advantage. The door of prosperity has been opened but only for a small elite.

In a multilingual country such as Pakistan where at least eight major languages compete for supremacy, English occupies a special position by virtue of its “neutrality”. But the status of English as the language of international communication exerts additional pressure. This importance is reinforced by Pakistan’s employment market, which discriminates in favour of the fluent English speaker even though not every job requires an English language expert.

This language paradox has undermined our education standards. With no well-defined language as a medium of instruction policy, we have a fractured system that divides society. There is an excellent English-based system in the private sector that is expensive and caters for a small wealthy elite. Children from the middle and lower-middle classes go to second-tier private schools charging relatively modest fees.

They adopt a strange mix of languages while pretending to be English-medium. Why else would you see schools in the shantytowns of Karachi announce their Anglicised names and the fact that they are “English-medium” in Urdu script? The teachers explain in their mother tongue while teaching from English language textbooks from which the students plagiarise and memorise passages.

It is left to public-sector schools, patronised by the children of the poor, to adopt indigenous languages as the medium of instruction – rather apologetically. With the government rapidly disengaging itself from the education sector, these institutions perform dismally.

As a result, the country is in a state of linguistic confusion. On the one hand people are desperate to be seen as being proficient in English when they are actually not. At the same time they are ashamed of their own language though that is the only language they can communicate in. The ambiguity of the language of instruction policy allows schools to make their own choices, which has contributed to the present crisis in education in Pakistan.

The demand for English – a trend set by the privileged elite – has put schools under pressure. Not many teachers who can teach English or teach in English are available. That is why it would be feasible to get all schools to teach initially in the child’s mother tongue while concentrating on improving standards.

This would require the production of good textbooks and the training of teachers. Both of these can be done effectively in our own languages. The main challenge would be to decide judiciously which language is to be used as the medium in which region and at what stage other languages, including English, should be introduced.

Training English-as-a-second-language teachers should pose no difficulty. Such teachers can impart basic communication skills in English to their students who would be learning other subjects in their own language. Those going on to higher studies or needing greater competency in English could take up language courses that should be made widely available.

Zubeida Mustafa is a freelance journalist who writes a weekly column in one of Pakistan’s most widely circulated and influential English language newspaper. She writes on a variety of subjects but her interest has mainly been in the social sector which she has covered extensively. She has investigated in-depth issues such as education, health care, women’s empowerment, children’s rights and the lives of ordinary people. Her book Tyranny of Language in Education: The Problem and its Solution is published by Ushba.

Related Post:

1. Some Soul Searching: Pakistani Nationalism and Schooling
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The Pakistani Taliban’s War on School children


The main entrance to the International Islamic University in Islamabad: During the last week of October 2009, the university came under attack by 2 suicide bombers who detonated their vests at the Islamic jurisprudence faculty and women’s cafeteria. Five Pakistanis were killed in the blasts and 29 more were reported wounded.
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EDUCATION UNDER SIEGE
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Christopher Allbritton

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Every morning, Sarim Zaidi, 17, puts on his school uniform, straightens his tie and hops into the car his parents provide for him to go to the Imperial International School and College in Islamabad, an upscale private institution. After his driver drops him off, he goes through metal detectors, winds his way around barbed wire, glances nervously at the armed guard on the roof and flashes his ID badge before finally entering a classroom.

Across town, in a poorer section of Islamabad, Hamza Baig, 14, also smartens up his school uniform, but at the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation Boys College, a government school, there are no armed guards. There is only a lonely doorman behind a flimsily padlocked gate. He is armed with a stick.

These are examples of how kids go to school in Pakistan nowadays, owing to a ferocious campaign of violence by the Pakistani Taliban against schools all over the country that has left parents panicking, students uneasy and educators worried about whether they’re doing enough to protect kids in the middle of a war. Schools have been turned into fortresses, and some students have made attending class an act of defiance.(See pictures of the tensions roiling Pakistan.) (more…)

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