KARACHI: “Are you sure it’s ‘in the world’?” asked Meiryum Mohammad Ali of the Karachi Grammar School after every five minutes. She topped in the world in mathematics in her O’ Level exam and she could not believe it. Her parents could not either. “They kept saying, ‘What, what, what?’ when I told them,” she said.
The University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) announced on Monday the winners of the Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards of secondary school learners in Pakistan for the June 2010 Cambridge examinations. Around 250 learners will receive awards for an exceptional performance in the examinations, according to a CIE press release. Fifty-three students achieved the highest marks in the world, while 48 attained the highest marks in Pakistan in a single subject.
Learners who have achieved the highest cumulative total of marks across a number of subjects will also be recognised. These students outperformed thousands of candidates worldwide who sat the Cambridge O level, IGCSE, AS and A’ Level exams.
Abdul Rafey Siddiqui of St Patrick’s High School topped in the world in O’ Level statistics. He has started making a list of things he is going to ask his parents as his reward. “This year’s paper was not easy and quite confusing. But when I completed it, I could not spot many mistakes,” said Rafey, breathless with excitement. “But I had never expected a distinction!” The “quiet nerd of his class” is also a scrabble and chess champ and is also known to have the best finish in football, said one of Rafey’s classmates.
Unlike the all-star Rafey, Husnain Habib Malik was surprised to know he had topped in A’ Level history as he considered himself an average student. He modestly passed on the credit to his teachers. “It all goes to say that my teachers taught me really well. Kudos to them!”
Meanwhile, Zain Umar thought it was all a prank. A Nixor College student, Zain came second place for having the best score in five A’ Level subjects. His parents dismissed the news and simply stared at him, confused, as they were not used to their son being a high achiever. “I wish the results had been announced a few weeks earlier because I just sent all my college applications – and this really would’ve really helped,” regretted Zain.
William Bickerdike, Cambridge’s regional manager for Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan said in a press release, “I am very proud to congratulate learners across the country. The results are a reflection of the enormous talent in Pakistan, not only amongst the learners but also within the teaching profession.” He told The Express Tribune via email later that Pakistani students have been consistent high achievers. “This year, students from Pakistan have scored the highest marks in the world in no less than 26 different syllabi, demonstrating mastery not only in popular subjects but also in subjects that are less widely taken, like psychology, sociology, law and thinking skills.”
Karachi Grammar School (KGS) has been the most consistent high-achieving school in Karachi, bagging the top positions every year. But some lesser known schools now entering the list of high achievers: Sargodhian Spirit Trust Public School, Rashidabad and Bahria School. However, St Patrick’s High and St Joseph’s Convent saw a decline in high achievers this year as compared to their previous years of glory.
After KGS, the relatively new Nixor College also grabbed a number of top positions in A’ Levels. Nadeem Ghani, the Nixor College Dean, said while he believes that there is no such thing as competition among schools, he does feel proud of his students for achieving the top positions without tuitions.
Meanwhile, some educationists stressed that achieving the highest in the world rank was only part of the picture. Happy Home School principal Ghazala Nizami said, “Even if we don’t have the tops any year, we have really good results overall.” However, the top position is a motivation, not just for the students but for teachers too, she added.
(Disclaimer: Meiryum Mohammad Ali is a columnist for The Express Tribune. She writes Khayaban-e-Nowhere each Sunday.)
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2011.