Back to school

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Every so often, among the doom and gloom (mine included) a refreshing story comes along, in this case a story in an English daily on the 20th of January 2011, by Khurshid Anwar Khan entitled, Mother: a classmate of sons.

Coming from a poor family, Rukhsana Batool of Mianwali had no opportunity to obtain education. Married at the age of eighteen, she is now twenty five years old, and the mother of two young boys. When she enrolled her boys in school, she began attending class with them. She is proud that she can now read and write and says would like to take the Board exams one day.

Rukhsanas boys, Haseem and Minahil Raza are fortunate in a mother who considers education important. She will be able to guide herself and them well by reading to them about the things that are important, such as their religion, ideas and current affairs, instead of feeding them on a mental diet of custom and tradition alone. She has gifted them with the desire and ability to attain.

Whats just as heart warming is the fact that Rukhsanas husband, Sabir Shah, a motor mechanic helped her in achieving her ambition, by hiring a maid to do the housework.

Rukhsana, I admire you from the bottom of my heart. May you achieve your ambitions, and may your children achieve great things to gladden the hearts of their parents, Amen.

And Mr Shah, by recognising the importance of education for the mother of your children, and by enabling her to attend school and no doubt shielding her from criticism, you deserve the respect of every single person in this country. I hope your plea for an adult literacy centre in your area is heeded. This is the story of a great family, and if there were more men like you in Pakistan, we would be among the great nations of the world.

As much an enabler as her husband, Rukhsanas teacher, Ms Murid Fiza did not stand in the way of Rukhsanas ambition with objections and red tape, and allowed her to attend class in a childrens school. All together, this family and their teacher chose to do a positive thing, and went ahead and did it. Bravo.

On the other side of the intelligence fence, in Bajaur alone more than 70 schools have been blown up, whereas generally in the north of the country, more than a hundred schools have been blow up in the last few years, including more than fifty in the past two years alone, most of them schools that enrolled girls. This, being the concept of Shariah, is how it is attempted to be enforced.

Elsewhere, a committee of the National Assembly was told that approximately 70 percent of school children in Baluchistan drop out of primary education because they do not have transport access to school, and that six hundred scholarships meant just for Baloch students have not been released by the government. Also, a story in Pakistan Today few days ago gave the news of female members of the Punjab Provincial Assembly accusing the Punjab government of gender discrimination, and walking out of a session.

Meantime, our perceptive Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has finally noticed that the Government is facing economic challenges. Well spotted, dear! Did your light bulb suddenly flicker and almost go out, scaring you into wondering whether you would have to face a bit of load shedding last night?

When asked if perhaps his government had failed to resolve the issues faced by the people of Pakistan, Mr Gilani responded plaintively that it was unfair to blame his government for the economic situation prevalent in the country. Rather, he said the problems were due to a global recession.

Maybe this is why plans to construct a monument to Benazir Bhutto costing the national exchequer Rs 1 billion at Liaqat Bagh, Rawalpindi, have been even considered, and having been considered have not as yet been shelved as a monstrous absurdity.

I think Mr Sabir Shah of Mianwali should be prime minister of this country, with his wife as president. All those in favour, please send a resounding aye to this newspaper, thank you.

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