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”

Education in Seventh Plan: The weakening political commitment

By Zubeida Mustafa

EDUCATION is not a high priority item in the draft of the Seventh Five-Year Plan. The targets are relatively modest and if these are achieved, Pakistan would still remain educationally backward.

Given the government’s poor record in meeting the goals of the Sixth Plan it appears that the authors of the Seventh Plan are being .more cautious and realistic in not aiming too high. But the lower targets could also be indicative of the government’s weakening political commitment to education. Continue reading “Education in Seventh Plan: The weakening political commitment”

An unconventional calling

By Zubeida Mustafa

Way back in 1974, when Khushi Kabir first went to Vnandapur, a remote village in Sylhet, to do relief and rehabilitation work for Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), it was a new experience for her.

Previously   her work had been restricted to the village on the outs- kirts of Dhaka. Anandapur took her away from her home and family, Living among the peasants and interacting with them, Khushi developed a new approach to life. She gradually shed off her inhibitions and values imbibed from her middle class background (her father was Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Information in United Pakistan). She was soon to discover the fulfilment of working with the downtrodden.

Continue reading “An unconventional calling”

Population growth: Strategy for 7th Plan raises questions

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE PROPSALS that the Population Welfare Division has submitted for the Seventh Five-Year Plan make incongruous reading.

The first 45 pages are a candid admission of failure: the government could not meet any of the population targets of the Sixth Plan. Yet the goals spelt out for the Seventh Plan are even more ambitious than the previous ones which proved unattainable,

In the Sixth Plan period, not much headway has been made in the demographic sector. The Plan had aimed at increasing the level of acceptors from 9.5 per cent in 1983 to 18.6 per cent in 1988. But according to the Population Division’s report family planning practice actually fell to 9.15 per cent in 1987. Continue reading “Population growth: Strategy for 7th Plan raises questions”

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”