December 16, 2014… #PeshawarAttack #ArmyPublicSchool #teach500

Pakistan_peshawar__3140702kDecember 16, 2014, a date which shall be remembered for all times to come, a date which etched the souls of many across the globe.  Army Public School, Peshawar was attacked by Taliban and within a matter of hours, news and visuals of soul stirring carnage from the school started pouring in from all over.

Close to 200 lives have been lost; mostly students.  Reactions from all across the nation have been strong, ranging from sorrow, anger, rage, sympathy and these reactions have been witnessed across the globe.  Eyes across continents welled-up, each parent saw own children in Peshawar, vigils, messages of solidarity and prayers no matter which direction one looked.  Screams of demanding justice, hanging the terrorists, action plan, counter-terrorism strategy, all being placed top priority and must be so.

B5DXNduCMAAJdX9Amid all this, an important facet must not be ignored.  The victims of this barbaric attack were mostly students.  Perhaps the only future livelihood for their families.  Who is to know how they were to be an integral part of the society and contribute within their families, neighborhoods, communities, cities, provinces and Pakistan at large.  Perhaps some may have been doctors, some engineers, some teachers, some artists.  Who is to know? This is the future of Pakistan which has been attacked and undoubtedly, the vacuum which has been created is unfathomable. Who can say if we may have lost the future Sir Sattar Edhi of Pakistan?  Each life has the power to influence in its own peculiar way and each life gone takes away that power to change the world in that peculiar way.

While those who are gone can only be prayed for, let us derive the courage and do our best to fill the vacuum whichPakistan_Peshawar__3140840k has been created.  The future, as badly as it may have been affected, is in our hands.  Close to 200 youngsters were on their way to acquire education to become responsible citizens and contribute to their families and this nation in their own peculiar way.  They are no more. Can they be replaced? No. No one can be replaced for each one is special and unique.  However, considering the number of children out of schools in Pakistan, can those (close to) 200 martyrs who are no longer in schools be replaced by 500 living children who are not attending school? Yes. This is most certainly possible.

10676262_767886536625303_6232273999744427747_nTaimur Rehman a man whose heart beats for Pakistan, has taken an initiative in collaboration with Taba Foundation with the primary focus of putting out of school children on the path of receiving education.  The schools Taba works with are located in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  The initiative is comprehensive starting from contacting the parents and counseling them to send their children to school to funding for text books, material, uniform, tuition, etc.  Overall cost for sending one child to school is Rs. 6,000/- per annum.

We, as a nation, should be proud of individuals like Taimur Rehman for being able to think in such directions and need to support such initiatives whole-heartedly.  Come help secure our future.

B5cbItRCUAEm_E1A small note before ending this: Salam Martyrs of Army Public School, Peshawar, you seem to have brought us together like many of us had only wished for. You have been able to bring about the interfaith harmony, the interracial harmony which much efforts put together could not bring about. I salute you my Martyrs. It is a responsibility of each and every one of us to do justice to every drop of blood shed to at least bring tolerance and promote peace and co-existence. Start from our families and friends and let this grow till the extremists find it difficult to breath and are suffocated to death or find co-existence and love the only way to survive.

Pakistan Zindabad!

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For updates/information on the initiative, kindly contact Taimur Rehman and follow Teach500 on Twitter.

Of private schools in Panjgur…

It was rather a delayed call for me when I was admitted in a private school after having attained my basic education in nearby Government school. All I considered was the proximity that I could easily saunter through the warehouse of food department that passaged a half-wrecked wall which could easily be climbed without brushing any part of clothes. Taking bigger leaps, I would see the Panjgur rest house newly constructed on an elevated altitude. Turning right to the Bait-ul-Maal office, a four-wheeler jeep that was crashed long ago was stationed not to be removed for ages. A regular sight was non-school-going children laden on the abandoned vehicle mouthing engine and horns as they played. Passing Tehsil and by the Telephone Exchange, the new school was hardly few yards away from Shaheed Javed Chowk.10403438_10152573860580875_1095732604921558805_n

Earlier, it was a disappointing beginning in the sarkari school. The edifice of my ideal school was razed in my initial schooling days. Government schools are always about writing. Writing Takhti, the wooden slate; the lessons, arithmetic tables and what not. We had kind bunch of teachers. Most of them suffered in their subjects but good enough to pass on the burden to students. What I still miss about the place is the respect it inculcated for teachers, no matter how wrong they are: the elderly deserved a kiss on the hands on our way off school.

By early 90’s, Makran Division had no English medium schools. In Turbat, the biggest city of the division, English Schools were initially established only to last for a year or so. There was no fundamental planning on which private sector English medium schools may function in the region. It was to the credit of late Mr. Habibullah Bangalzai, Panjgur saw its very first English Medium School in 1993. I was its second batch. Initially, it was a modern version of already prevailing government schools in the locale but with time the standards were slightly raised and teachers from Punjab were assigned to teach subjects in English. With no time, local youth educated in Quetta and Karachi took the teaching assignments and our school showed good promise. Shifting buildings every two years, Pak Public Model School was first of comparable private schools that thronged in the next decade.

Evidently, private schools in Panjgur provided phenomenal match to the Urban schools in Quetta, the provincial capital, for quite a while. Unprecedentedly, co-ed was highly appreciated by most quarters of the society. The social instinct started to shift toward competition in educating trends. Even the religious notables sent their minors to private schools. Mr. Zahir Hussein, a US-return fostered his idea of setting up American English Language Centre which proved to be a success story. It not only gathered youth for healthy atmosphere in evenings but also shoved them toward another mode of competitive knack. Female students found the opportunity to polish their communication and comprehension of English without travelling to Quetta for similar purposes. Later, he launched his own English-to-English-and-Balochi medium school followed by another school after a brief period by one of our considerate principals Haji Lateef. Resultantly, few years down the line, the fruition of these efforts came to fore. Candidates from Panjgur were considered intellectually superior to the other districts in the division. They clinched the seats in provincial public service commission as walk in the park. While I travelled to Quetta, I found the elementary private education bar in Panjgur glaringly better than most of the noted schools in Quetta. A number of men contributed a great deal in the district what has been the transitional transformation in cultivating quality education in following years.

The recent attacks on educationists and closure of private schools in Balochistan are matter of grave stress. In Makran Division, all private schools face existential threats from right and left. Schools are torched and teachers are threatened to avoid attending classes with parents hesitant to send their children to schools. Even the much anticipated Dr. Malik regime is completely clueless to deal with the conundrum. Where the children in modern times are acquainted with specialized tools and pedagogical excellence, the schools in Makran Division lay deserted. No any clear policy line is yet designed other than allaying fears of parents by statements by incumbent administration and political wish-men. The war waged to dismantle uncompromising efforts of people who cemented the foundation of education in Makran is painfully to continue with its dreadful impacts in the future.

Having witnessed the pleasant lift in private elementary education being the earliest batches during the transition days, I fear the dilapidated jeep along the way to my school still remains a telltale monument of good old times.