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

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

Budget and education:  Shortfall in outlay despite Iqra and other incomes                                                   

By Zubeida Mustafa

 WHILE the federal and provincial budgets announced in June have shown an increase in the allocations for the education sector as in previous years the government has failed to display the political will, social commitment and economic capacity to promote education sufficiently in a country where 74 per cent of the population is illiterate.The fact is that, increase in funds notwithstanding, Pakistan is still a long way from the goals the framers of the Sixth Five-Year Plan had laid down in 1983, which would have boosted literacy to 48 per cent and primary school enrolment ratio to 75 per cent. Continue reading Budget and education:  Shortfall in outlay despite Iqra and other incomes                                                   

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