Education for all: 36 young fellows start journey to teach Pakistan

Published: June 28, 2013

Teach for Pakistan started its education-for-all initiative in August 2011 with an aim to provide underprivileged children the same education available to students from prestigious institutions. PHOTO COURTESY: TEACH FOR PAKISTAN WEBSITE

Around 36 young Teach for Pakistan fellows are now getting ready to teach Pakistan and carry on the journey that Tooba Akhtar, a Lahore University of Management Sciences alumnus, chose to start around two years ago.

These fresh graduates of some of the prestigious institutions across the country and abroad will form the third batch of Teach for Pakistan fellows.

For most people of Akhtar’s age, the idea of teaching grade three to grade eight public-school students for a monthly stipend of only Rs25,000 is hardly the life they imagine after graduating from prestigious colleges. But for Akhtar and her friends, the need to take some practical steps to fix the deteriorating education system in the country was a more pressing need.

Perhaps for this reason, Akhtar believed this transformation was something intrinsic to the fellowship programme – an initiative of the Aman Foundation. They partnered with the international ‘Teach for All’ global network of similar enterprises, working to eliminate educational inequity in more than 27 countries.

“For the next two academic sessions, we offered the same or even better quality of education to disadvantaged children as availed by us,” she recalled. To achieve that end, some of the programme’s inaugural fellows had to convince their parents that they were not wasting their futures and education by not applying for corporate jobs.

Akhtar has played a significant role in changing several lives at Government Girls Secondary School near Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine but she can hardly forget 14-year-old Saniya, who she saved from dropping out of the school. Her persistence in persuading Saniya’s parents continued to the point when the girl’s father finally changed his cellphone number, Akhtar smiles as she narrates.

The girl did not show up for about two months and then one day she sent a folded piece of paper along with another student that had her father’s new cellphone number. The note also told Akhtar that Saniya’s father was in a good mood to talk to her. Akhtar did not hesitate and finally managed to get the girl back to school.

“We often forget that all parents want to see their children prosper,” she said. “It is just that they have different priorities as per the circumstances they have been conditioned into. It is up to us and how well we convince them to prioritise education.”

The six-week summer training for the third batch of fellows commenced on Wednesday before their final placement at 24 schools in Karachi and five in Lahore. In addition to learning about the national curriculum, child psychology and community relations, new fellows also learn leadership qualities and innovative teaching methodologies that lead their students to ambitious academic growth.

“Your classrooms may be hot and lack electricity and you may not have enough desks or books, but we know that a high quality teacher can do more to change a student’s life than fans and desks,” Teach for Pakistan CEO Khadija S Bakhtiar told her new fellows. “Be the ‘teacher’ and leave your students independent, empowered and inquisitive.”

Founded in 2010, Teach for Pakistan is premised on the belief that leadership in the education sector is the key to transforming classrooms and communities, ultimately fixing the broken system, said Aman Foundation CEO Ahsan Jamil.

Teach for Pakistan hand picks the best

To make sure that underprivileged students also receive top-notch education, Teach for Pakistan hand-picks the best graduates to teach at public and NGO-owned low-resourced schools – but not before they go through six months of rigorous training, says the 28-year-old Teach for Pakistan CEO Khadija S Bakhtiar.

Prospective fellows, an overwhelming majority of whom studied from the Institute of Business Administration and Lahore University of Management Sciences while others studied abroad as well, underwent a rigorous three-stage selection process.

Bakhtiar added that most of the young graduates join with a passion of dedicating two years of their lives for the cause. “Even this passion is something very valuable and we rely on this to move on with the programme,” said Bakhtiar. “This two-year association, however, makes an unforgettable connection with the children, in which the fellows have live experience of transforming others’ lives with their efforts and that keeps them associated with the cause in different capacities for the rest of their lives.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2013.

Reader Comments (18)

  • Naya pakistan
    Jun 28, 2013 - 4:32AM

    Is this the Naya Pakistan. Hats off to these intrepid youngsters and the program, all the best and may they succeed in their endeavors. Bravo, well done and keep it up and may God bless you and may the country recognize your efforts to bring about a change.

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  • Cynic
    Jun 28, 2013 - 5:17AM

    Thess pioneers are torch bearers, all praise to them and their initiative. May God bless them with success.

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  • Baba Ji
    Jun 28, 2013 - 7:30AM

    Shabaash my new generation … you are an example … continue the hard work …Recommend

  • citizen
    Jun 28, 2013 - 8:53AM

    they should restrict theirselves to the safe areas of Pakistan.. No need to go where law and order situation is not good.

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  • Virkaul
    Jun 28, 2013 - 9:42AM

    All the best Baccho in your noble endeavor. My son too has a stint with Teach for India for 2 years after he quit his cosy job.

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  • Iram
    Jun 28, 2013 - 10:09AM

    Youth can change the fate of this nation.

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  • Salman
    Jun 28, 2013 - 11:45AM

    Start teaching MNAs and MPAs to see the real impact. Seriously good work by these youngsters

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  • Jun 28, 2013 - 12:08PM

    Youth , THE only hope for Pakistan.

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  • not impressed
    Jun 28, 2013 - 12:41PM

    by the way, 25k is the normal starting salary for most BA degree holders, even from foreign universities. Slog for a few years and then you’ll start hitting the 60k mark..

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  • Zara
    Jun 28, 2013 - 12:57PM

    Excellent job guys! To whom should I contact to be the part of this great work?

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  • IBA Alumni
    Jun 28, 2013 - 3:30PM

    I personally know a few people part of this program and all of them were exceptionally good students. Proud of IBA community for playing its part in the program.

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  • Syed A. Mateen
    Jun 28, 2013 - 4:24PM

    I wish all the 36 young fellows who have started their journey to teach Pakistan.

    What a common Pakistani lacks is the education and in addition to that the basic concept and difference between the right and the wrong.

    Now-a-days right has become wrong, and wrong has become the right.

    Every one has his own point of view to impose on others.

    If this concept is changed, I am optimistic that we can have better people in the country and a good Pakistan.

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  • Jun 28, 2013 - 5:15PM

    They are setting an example for many and I commend them for working towards the betterment of the country.

    Ali Khan

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  • Jun 28, 2013 - 8:20PM

    This effort is so commendable. Applause for all you guys!
    Seriously i want to join you people ..

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  • FN
    Jun 29, 2013 - 8:19PM

    I have got nothing but utmost respect and well wishes for these people. May you all prosper in life. Ameen

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  • Hareem
    Jun 30, 2013 - 12:02AM

    I just finished my fellowship at Teach For Pakistan. Just a couple of corrections in the article. First, the training that the fellows go through is for 6 weeks, not 6 months. Second, fellows are employees at Teach For Pakistan. They get paid salaries, not stipends. And the salaries vary for different cohorts.

    Apart from that, thanks to the author and all those who commented for the encouragement :)

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  • Jul 15, 2013 - 2:34AM

    Basic education is as important as food, clothing and shelter. However if Pakistanis have to make any progress and compete with developed nations Pakistanis- both government, industrialists and wealthy individuals must help build science and tech schools and colleges. In the Unites States and Canada many high class schools and universities were founded by individuals. The nation must initiate a revolution in the field of education. Just look at small nations, both European and Asian, and witness how they achieved progress and prosperity and made advances in science and technology, the branches of knowledge in which Muslims for centuries dominated the world. The government should invite Pakistani engineers and scientists who were educated in Western colleges and universities to come to Pakistan for one or two years as volunteers to teach or help train young Pakistanis. Many will heed the call.

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  • Jul 30, 2013 - 3:30PM

    i join the teach for pakistan

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