Category Archives: Children and Youth

No ambassador can be greater than his country

By Zubeida Mustafa

It had been a really windy day. The Karachi University campus wore a dusty look. That was not unusual. In those days there were few trees and greenery to shield it from the sprawling sandy wastes where Gulshan-i-Iqbal stands today. When we reached the University we found the tables, chairs and blackboard in the Seminar Room coated with dust which had also drawn wavy patterns on the floor.

We had learnt to ignore the natural elements as the price we had to pay for the spaciousness of the campus. This day was no different until Dr Khurshid Hyder reached the University in time for her class. She was teaching us International Relations. No sooner had she arrived, that every one was acutely made aware of how unacceptable it was for academics to be in unclean surroundings. She went straight for the broom and without much ado began sweeping the room. Of course that stirred every one into action and the students promptly took over the clean-up operation. She had given the lead. Continue reading No ambassador can be greater than his country

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Rethinking in the social sciences

By Zubeida Mustafa

One positive result of the growth of consciousness of the women’s role in society has been that some rethinking is now taking place in the social sciences.

Economics, the most male-oriented of disciplines, specially finds itself outpaced by the changes in the status of women. While previously economists never took gender into account in formulating yardsticks and definitions to measure and explain various concepts and computing statistics, they are now being forced to take note of women’s contribution to economic and social activity. Continue reading Rethinking in the social sciences

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Raising daughters: anguish of a mother

By Zubeida Mustafa

45-22-09-1989As the social fabric begins to disintegrate under the stress and strain of ethnic violence, crime and political fragmentation, one wonders who is the worst victim. There is no doubt that it is the youth of today. Denied the normal and stable social environment they need for their healthy mental, moral, intellectual and physical growth, the young suffer the most.

An impression has, however, gained ground that only boys are the main losers because when terror strikes they are generally the ones to fall before the bullets. They are believed to be the most exposed to the devastating impact of the instability and insecurity that prevails today. Girls, after all, are said to be protected in the safe sanctuary of their homes. Continue reading Raising daughters: anguish of a mother

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Fight against illiteracy: an uphill task

By Nafisa Hoodbhoy and Zubeida Mustafa

“Bina parhayjo waqt gunwaya”, the powerful TV jingle, came to mind as we walked one after-‘ noon through a long dusty corridor of a government school in Korangi. We (were on a surprise visit to one of the Nai Roshni schools.

Going up a flight of stairs in the school building, we came upon a classroom without window panes. Seated on dusty wooden benches, with books open before them on rickety desks .were 24 boys in dishevelled shalwar-kameez and chappals. They listened intently as their young bearded teacher taught numerals on the blackboard with almost religious devotion.

This was a maths class in progress at the Nai Roshni school. After the teacher had finished he called upon one of the children to come and recite the tables. The boy did so with great zeal in a sing-song tone and the class repeated the lesson after him. Even when the child made a mistake the class did not falter. It was the teacher who would intervene. Obviously the emphasis was on the rote method so common in the schools here. Continue reading Fight against illiteracy: an uphill task

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Budget and health sector: low allocations, poor achievement

By Zubeida Mustafa

IT IS a measure of the government’s poor commitment to public health that one of the largest cuts instituted in the revised Federal ADP now announced is for this sector.

From Rs 810 million, the allocation for health has been scaled down to Rs 736 million, which is considerably less than what was spent in 1986-87. The health sector will receive less this year in the Sind ADP too, the allocation having been reduced from Rs 364.6 million in 1986-87 to Rs 360.6 million in 1987-88. Continue reading Budget and health sector: low allocations, poor achievement

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Liaquat National Library Periodicals in need of preservation

By Zubeida Mustafa

AFTER what one hears of the poor reading habits of Pakistanis and their lack of interest in books, one would expect a library to be a deserted place. But a casual visit to the Liaquat Memorial Library on Stadium Road should be enough to convince anyone that there are quite a few people in the city who do like to read. It can, however, be presumed that people read only if they can get books, newspapers and magazines conveniently and free of cost. Continue reading Liaquat National Library Periodicals in need of preservation

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