High population growth rate, low status of women: Perfect recipe for Demographic Disaster

By Zubeida Mustafa

44-14-07-1989Pakistan is heading for a demographic disaster. And if we need to be reminded of it,, the recently published report of the National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS) in Islamabad should serve the purpose. It very bluntly states the implications of a runaway population growth rate for the socio-economic development of the country.

The State of Population in Pakistan graphically describes the impact of a high population growth rate (2.8 – 3.1 per cent by current guesstimate) on various sectors in the last four decades. It also projects future growth at a constant rate and how it will affect the socio-economic situation in the year 2000. In mid-1987 Pakistan’s population was estimated to be 102 million. At the turn of the century it will be 150 million if it continues to grow at the rate of 2.8 per cent per annum. Continue reading “High population growth rate, low status of women: Perfect recipe for Demographic Disaster”

Education gets more funds but still below requirements

By Zubeida Mustafa

In a welcome departure from past practice, the Federal Finance Minister for State listed education as the first priority of Government policy in his budget speech on June 3. The next priorities were identified as rural development and power generation.

It is encouraging that after a long period of neglect, education should figure as a major concern of the Government. This is also reflected in the massive increase of 68 per cent in the Federal Government’s development budget for education for 1989-90. It has increased from Rs. 1.17 billion in 1988-89 to Rs. 1.97 billion for the coming year.

43-01-07-1989_AThe PPP Government’s commitment to education notwithstanding, the overall budgetary situation in respect of this sector points to the financial constraints faced by the planners. The provinces which finance primary, secondary and college education have not been in a position to match the Federal Government’s generosity. In some provinces the education development budget has had to be slashed. Continue reading “Education gets more funds but still below requirements”

Educating Orangi

By Zubeida Mustafa

“Punishment should be reformist in its goal. It should make the child realise his mistake…But punishing a child unnecessarily and aimlessly will not inculcate good habits in him nor will it reform him … Corporal punishment creates hatred in a child for his teacher… It should be avoided. (Translated from Urdu)

These and many more practical suggestions are contained in the Teacher’s Guide published recently by the Orangi Educational Project. The guidelines do not reflect anything radically innovative. But the move to publish a 31-page guide of this nature is definitely an unprecedented step. Some of the trained teachers say they had never been taught many of th42-21-04-1989ese norms in the course of their training.

The publication of the guide speaks of the collective efforts of a handful of schools to upgrade themselves and improve their quality of education. It is not strange that it should be schools in Orangi which should have decided to opt for a self-improvement process. According to Dr Akhter Hameed Khan, the Director of Orangi Pilot Project and the driving force behind the education programme, Orangi is a new settlement and its people have the pioneering spirit of settlers. Hence they are willing to shed old conventions and inhibitions and experiment with new ideas. Continue reading “Educating Orangi”

I was determined to live — and live normally

By Zubeida Mustafa

Dr Rukhsana Parveen is a Senior House Officer in the Nawabshah Civil Hospital. Her job in the 73- bed medical ward is considerably demanding entailing as it does six hours of morning duty every day and four emergency duties a week — twice in the afternoon and twice at night.

For 27-year-old Rukhsana, her work as a physician is most satisfying. She speaks enthusiastically about her profession, narrating animatedly her experiences with her patients. She is proud of her achievements: in the last few weeks she has cured six patients suffering, from the deadly disease Hepatitis-B. Continue reading “I was determined to live — and live normally”

Helpful donors come to the rescue

By Zubeida Mustafa

When ‘ the first kidney transplant operation was performed at the Civil Hospital, Karachi, on November 20, 1985, few expected it to be more than a rare surgical feat accomplished once in a blue moon. After all, the obstacles to be surmounted were several, the most significant being financial constraints. Could a hospital in the public sector with a limited budget, sustain a programme which cost Rs 140,000 to provide postoperative care and drugs to one patient for one year?

40-10-03-1989-AThere were other limiting factors as well. Even though the availability of surgical skill could be taken for granted, without an infrastructure of specialised nursing, extensive dialysis services and laboratory facilities, kidney transplant surgery could not be made routine. At that time arrangements did not even exist in the country for tissue matching, the first prerequisite for a transplant operation, and blood samples had to be sent abroad for this purpose.

Then there was the question of social acceptance of an idea that was quite radical for a society where life and death have a religious sanctity about them and are not. to be tampered with. Would donors be readily available and how would the people react to the concept of cadaveric donation, which has to be the ultimate endeavour of a transplant programme. Continue reading “Helpful donors come to the rescue”

Population survey: Pakistan’s poor rating

By Zubeida Mustafa

In a recent study on family planning in 95 Third World countries, the Washington-based Population Crisis Committee ranked Pakistan 43rd in availability of modern birth control methods, service related activities, information and outreach and government commitment to population in terms of budget and policy. Out of a total score of 100, Pakistan received a lowly 29 and was rated as “poor”.

It compared most unfavourably with Taiwan which scored 92 and was ranked first. In fact Pakistan was also way behind other South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh which scored 76,64 and 64 respectively. Even Nepal was better off with a rating of 30.

What emerged significantly from the survey was the close relationship between family planning programmes, the decline in fertility rate and the level of economic development. Higher decline in total fertility rate (TFR) between 1970 and 1985 occurred in countries with “excellent” scores on access to birth control. It is no coincidence that these are also countries which have recorded good progress in the economic field such as Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and China. Pakistan’s TFR fell by only 18 per cent when China’s recorded a decline of 55 per cent. The TFR in India and Bangladesh fell by 32 and 21 per cent respectively. Continue reading “Population survey: Pakistan’s poor rating”

Women in politics: The great paradox

By Zubeida Mustafa

ELECTIONS- 88 in Pakistan have highlighted the two paradoxes that have come to characterise the role of women in politics in a number of Third World countries. At one end are a handful of enterprising, educated and emancipated women who participate in the political processes and gain general acceptance in leadership roles. At the other end are the women among the masses who lack education, political awareness and personal freedom. Their involvement in politics is minimal.

What is significant in Pakistan is that the size of the small group of women active in politics is growing, while the number of those uninvolved in and untouched by the electoral exercise which is the essence of a democratic system is shrinking. In the elections this time the women’s presence on the political scene created a greater impression than ever before. Continue reading “Women in politics: The great paradox”

Women power at work

By Onlooker

Ravaged by rains, overflowing sewers and digging by . civic agencies, the approach road to the Karachi Administration Society (adjacent to the PECHS) had been in a state of battered neglect for months.

No one came to attend to it when the post-monsoon road mending work was taken in hand all over the city in August.

Quite belatedly at the end of October, this heavily used stretch of road was put into good shape. Few are aware of the formidable ‘women power’. that went into its repair.

37-02-12-1988But the Councillor of the area, the KMC, the ZMC and other agencies concerned know better. They have found it impossible to ignore the forty or so women who have periodically visited their offices demanding what they insist is their right as tax-payers. They call themselves the Karachi Administration Women Welfare Society. Continue reading “Women power at work”

Government and private schools compared: elitist versus plebian

By Zubeida Mustafa

Why don’t parents boycott private schools? This question was posed to me by a senior bureaucrat in the government’s education department. He was speaking in the context of the countless complaints parents, educationists and students voice against private educational institutions.

Any parent would tell him that private schools are the lesser of the two evils: the other being the schools managed by the government.

When parents have a choice between the two, the private institutions are invariably their first priority. It is understandable. Inefficiency, corruption and lack of resources have taken their toll in the schools in the public sector. Their standard of education and academic environment have deteriorated to an appalling extent over the years. Continue reading “Government and private schools compared: elitist versus plebian”

Teaching English the modern way: Mind your language

By Zubeida Mustafa

It might sound paradoxical but the fact is that in spite of English being quite commonly used in Pakistan, a foreigner visiting this country can face considerable difficulty in communicating with the people he meets in the course of his travel. Not many of the people he would come in contact with in restaurants and hotels (not the five-star ones), on the road, at airports and railway stations can speak English. Continue reading “Teaching English the modern way: Mind your language”