Pakistan – New Road Regarding Educational initiative’s
By: ASHFAQ REHMANI
My world view changed dramatically as I saw first-hand the stark challenges of poverty – illiteracy, child labor, abuse and the privations imposed by caste hierarchies. I was astounded by this contradictory nation – innovative yet impoverished, globally oriented yet parochially sectarian.
The reality is that the lowest sections of Indian and Pakistani society are united by their shared sorrows. A child’s education is still largely determined by his birthplace and socio-economic background. If former Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah could see us today, 63 years after independence, nothing would shock them more than the extent of illiteracy among the masses. They would be appalled that half the adult population (and more than half the female population) remains unable to read and write, and powerless to break the cycle of poverty and servitude.
With all the depressing news coming out of Pakistan lately, there is one major development that has me hopeful and excited. Last month saw the launch of the Teach For Pakistan movement, which aims to expand the urban poor’s access to quality education by recruiting highly qualified young Pakistanis to teach in under-resourced schools for two years. In the long run, these “fellows” will go on to be successful leaders in various other fields, but will continue to support local educational initiatives from their positions of influence.
Imagine the socio-economic revolution possible if our youth are better equipped to compete for secure employment, to defend them in court, to enforce their rights, to take advantage of technology and to take part, intelligently, in political activity.
Even without teaching full-time, there are numerous ways to be a part of the solution. Your time and presence is the most valuable commodity you can offer.
Volunteering in classrooms and talking about your life and work allows students to fashion a broader mindset. They learn to communicate more effectively and find role models to emulate. Even something as simple as donating and reading out simple, colorful storybooks – which affluent children have easy access to – makes a huge impact.
In just two years as a teacher, I ended up learning much more than I could ever teach. And I hope that, in the years to come, we will see many more young South Asians joining and supporting educational organizations and having similarly profound experiences – in humility, perseverance and leadership.