As Naseeruddin stood before the audience at a seminar titled ‘Against all Odds’, it was hard to believe that the boy who completed his MBA with a 3.8 GPA, started out with a struggle to read a single page of a novel as a child.
“I worked very hard, but I was not smart,” he told the teachers and professionals attending the seminar organised by the R.E.A.Dyslexics at the Oxford University Press on Saturday. “As a dyslexic child, I told others that I was not different, I just required more time.”
Naseeruddin recalled his father asking him to read billboards in competition with his cousins. “It was a nightmare. I used to remember what was on the billboards by memorising their sequence.”
For Nasseruddin, reading the first page of the novel Around the World in 80 Days, in class was a challenge. “It was after I was screamed at and hit by my teacher for not being able to read properly, that I became determined about reading and writing properly.”
He took tuitions twice a day at the R.E.A.Dyslexics while attending regular school. Naseeruddin started reading in the eighth grade. “If a child has dyslexia, it means he has a higher IQ - not that he has a disease.”
Other professionals, working in education, also spoke. Nutritionist Sabina Khatri shared her success story of changing the lives of Lyari children. She started with a presentation of pictures of children eating gutka and wearing dirty clothes, followed by pictures of children from the same locality who were dressed neatly. She questioned the audience members if they would allow the latter to attend the same schools as their own children, to which she got a positive reply. The Kiran School System aims to bridge the gap between the underprivileged and the privileged children. “Let the rich and poor interact,” said Sabina.
Her school trains nursery and kindergarten children for admissions to the city’s reputable private schools. “My own children went to the Karachi Grammar School and my aim is that these children also attend it.”
The Teachers’ Development Centre’s director and educationist, Abbas Husain, raised the issue of a communication gap between parents and children, and teachers and students. He said that the education system is in a crisis as teachers do not want to accept the changes of the new generation. “The challenge for today’s teachers is to communicate with children belonging to Generation Y, born during1981 and 1999.” These children get stimulating entertainment at home, read less and need feedback for their work. “Yesterday’s children were teacher-pleasers, but kids today want to look good before their peers.”
Husain also spoke on the lack of quality education at government schools. He showed a video of 5th grade students from these schools who were unable to write basic sentences, such as ‘I am a Pakistani’. “When will we consider these schools our problem?”
R.E.A.Dyslexics CEO Shahina Alvi said that the purpose of the seminar was to acknowledge people who have struggled in their lives and gone on to accomplish achievements. She mentioned that the institute, the first in the subcontinent for dyslexics and more than 20 years old, is still struggling financially.
Alvi ended her talk on a positive note, that dyslexia or the ADT condition, is not increasing. “Parents have instead become more aware about providing their children the treatment.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2012.