Guiding light: From a comfortable desk job to a classroom

Primary schoolteacher Yousaf Ali Khan continues to take challenges in his stride

Suzanna Masih July 23, 2015


Teaching primary school students brings joy to 43-year-old Yousaf Ali Khan who gave up a desk job at the education department to pursue his passion for it.

A native of Bannu, he has served the profession for 24 years. Khan is currently posted at Government Primary School, Badizai in Peshawar and teaches Islamic studies, math and english to students from Class 1 to 5.

“I love teaching primary school students and I do my best to instruct them in a manner which is suitable to their young minds,” Khan tells The Express Tribune over the phone.

Where the heart is

The 43-year-old teacher always tries to engage his students in lessons and does not shy away from making his students giggle in class. “During a lesson, I had to teach students about hen so I cackled like one,” he says. “My colleagues passing by laughed at my antics but that didn’t bother me.”

Although Khan has visited 16 countries, he feels more at home among the children of his country than with anyone else. According to Khan, his time as a student at a government school in Bannu encouraged him to teach in the public sector.

“Once I accompanied my school’s sports team to Islamabad for a competition,” he explains. “When I observed all the students who were present on the occasion, I realised government school students have so much potential; all they need are teachers who can bring out this potential.”

The challenge of change

Although Khan loves his job, it does not come without its challenges. However, the 43-year-old teacher has taken them in his stride.

“The most frustrating part for me is when students don’t turn up for class and parents are not even bothered by it,” he says. However, the dedicated teacher is not one to stand by and watch his students waste their opportunity to get an education.

“I call their parents from my personal phone to convince them to send the children to school,” he says.

Memory lane

The most rewarding part of Khan’s job is the respect and appreciation his students have for him. Some years ago, he was teaching at a middle school when his transfer letter came. On his last day at the school, all of his students gathered in the courtyard to bid farewell to their favourite teacher.

“I will never forget that day,” he recalls. “Some of them were so sad to see me go that they were crying.” Yet another incident that Khan remembers is when he caught a couple of boys making indecent cartoons in the school bathroom. “I gave them an earful,” he says. “I wasn’t harsh but as a teacher it was my responsibility to discipline them and advise them against such activities.”

It so happened that the students never forgot Khan’s lecture that day. “I was visiting the University of Peshawar a few months ago and one of the boys recognised me,” Khan explains. “He came over, hugged me tightly and said it was my guidance that led him to correct his ways and become a doctor. On that day, I was proud to be a teacher.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2015.