SUKKUR: Walking to school with her brothers and sisters, little Aamna Qureshi used to look wistfully at the buses of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Sukkur. Little did she know then that one day she would study at the prestigious school and, that, too, on a 100 per cent scholarship.
Aamna belongs to a middle-class family and has 10 siblings. Her father runs an optician’s shop. She has overcome numerous challenges in her life, the biggest being a lack of confidence of society in a woman’s capabilities.
What can a girl not do?
During her early education at Government M K High School, Sukkur, Aamna developed a strong belief that no one should have to fight for education, especially girls. Having been told by society that she cannot do much, she has come to disregard the notion of the ‘impossible’.
After matriculation from the public school, where education was imparted free of charge, Aamna got enrolled in Government Girls Degree College, Sukkur, in the pre-engineering discipline. “As a backbencher and someone who stammers, it was not easy for me to carry on with the type of education being imparted in our government schools,” she said. “Despite that, I did pretty good and always secured top positions in my class. Then I went to college, where all the major subjects were taught in English. Thus, I faced a huge language barrier.”
Taking the first step
Thinking about her dream of studying at Sukkur IBA, she used to wonder if she would be able to generate the funds needed for the institution’s expenses. “Whenever I dwelled into this thought, these words echoed in my mind: if we really want something, nature conspires to fulfil our desire. We do not need to see the whole staircase; we just need to take the first step.” According to her, she thought long and hard about the dismal state of teaching in government schools. This made her decide that she would pursue higher studies in the field of education.
Today, 19-year-old Aamna is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Education (BEd) degree from Sukkur IBA. She attempted the admission test of BEd at the university and cleared it with flying colours. She strongly believes that education is the foundation stone of the intellectual, social and moral development of a human being. According to her, Sukkur IBA is like a blessing for her family because four of her sisters studied here on scholarships. “It has changed my social status by providing education and a platform for interacting with like-minded people,” she tells The Express Tribune.
Growth and achievements
When Aamna got enrolled in Sukkur IBA, she experienced a dramatic change in her life. As she undertook schooling in her local language, she struggled hard to get accustomed to Sukkur IBA’s standards, where all the courses were taught in the English language. She burnt her midnight oil to prove her mettle with successful results. Being a meritorious student and highest GPA holder of her batch at Sukkur IBA, she won two scholarships and also won a national-level photo contest. Dr Irfan Ahmed Rind, the head of the education department at Sukkur IBA, believes in giving opportunities to students to give them a chance to contribute in fulfilling the vision of the department. Likewise, with the guidance of Dr Rind, Aamna remains active in Sukkur IBA Student Council. “She always seeks and makes opportunities, which distinguished her from all the students,” says Rind.
Aamna was nominated to attend the Commission on the Status of Women 60 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City on March 12 this year. She was the only and the youngest participant from Pakistan at the event. This was her first independent international travel. Her sincere commitment and dedication to play her part in alleviating the education situation has been persistent. Her determination, passion and commitment seem to promise social change in the near future. “I feel proud of myself, my parents and, of course, my teachers, especially Dr Irfan Rind, who proved to be a source of inspiration for me,” she says.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2016.