By Maham Tarar
Education and learning are one of the most important ingredients to becoming all that you can be. How open you are to learning will help determine your path in life.
Education does not just happen at school. It is not just about Math and other subjects. Your education and learning are happening all the time. They happen any time your mind is open to learning.
Education is not just about learning facts, but more so about learning how to think. It is learning to make good choices. It is learning to act with purpose.
Becoming educated is a lifelong process. It can be hard and frustrating at times, but it can also be incredibly exciting and enriching. Most importantly, learning and education can help you:
Change the world
Become a better person
Reach your potential
Eliminate your fears
Make the most of mistakes
Support your family
“Education is our greatest opportunity to give an irrevocable gift to the next generation”
“A good education is the greatest gift you can give yourself or anyone else.”
Pakistani Heroes: Small “Edupreneurs” Making a Big Difference
“I want to study every day, and learn new things, and get good grades. Then I will get a good job when I am older, and I will buy the house my parents always wanted but never could afford.”
This is what Sabah tells me, her eyes scrunched up in such resoluteness that I had to remind myself that I was talking to an eleven year old. Sabah, like many children in Pakistan, studies in a public school. The school only has 4 rooms, with multi-grade teaching taking place in all the classrooms. Her teachers sometimes show up at school regularly, though they have no qualms in taking off for weeks at a stretch. These schools are a meager excuse for an educational establishment. There is no clean drinking water, the washrooms are messy and ill equipped, and the children often get beaten with a little wooden stick. The reasons for getting beaten vary on a regular basis; sometimes it’s because they laughed too loud or they dropped their notebook on the floor. Sometimes it’s because their handwriting was sloppy that day.
Education in Pakistan is a relegated investment. The government claims that the budget for education in the country increases every year, but sadly enough, that (claimed) investment is never translated into tangible proof. I have met children who could barely read the English alphabet out loud to me and these children were in the 4th grade.
English-medium private schools are posh and expensive, and low-income households in Pakistan cannot afford to send their children there. Luckily for these families, private sector low cost private schools are starting to emerge in the hundreds across the country.
These schools provide a significantly higher quality of education, and attempt to do so at bare minimum costs, which translates into lower fees for students. These “edupreneurs,” as we have now begun to call them, are facing the challenge of trying to balance the educational learning quality and outcomes with costs incurred. I have met dozens of such inspirational individuals in Pakistan, and I can personally say that they are doing the very best that they can with the limited resources available to them.
These edupreneurs give hope to the youth of Pakistan, and even more importantly, they give them the opportunity to access high quality education that the public sector is simply unable (and unwilling) to provide.
And these students give hope to the rest of Pakistan, as their bright young minds are our future. Their hard work will pay off and they will help shape the future of our country. They help us to remember that everything is not an outcome of where you came from, whether you earn less than a dollar a day, or whether your parents sent you to the best schools in the country.
The little things matter … how much you learnt that day … how much you want to make a difference in your life and the lives of those you love … and how much you believe in your own ability to become someone.
I know, and I truly believe that Sabah will grow up to be a wonderful and intelligent young woman, and that she will buy her parents that house they have always wanted.
Maham is a microfinance specialist and has extensive experience conducting leadership and financial literacy trainings. She grew up in Pakistan but is now working in the U.A.E. and is crazy about anything that can Make a Difference!
1- High school children at Sacred Heart School in Lahore, owned and run by Edupreneur Daisy Santaram. These students said they wanted to change the world.
2- Kindergarten children at St. Alberts school in Lahore, owned and run by Edupreneur Simon Albert. With no classroom they are studying on the roof of their school in the scorching summer heat.