Brand culture for schooling system

'Brand' culture affecting local schooling system
Jan 10: In Karachi, the 'rat race' is no longer about what brand you wear or what car you own, but about which school your child attends.

Overly concerned parents, most of whom are successful professionals, go to absurd lengths to get their children registered into 'known' schools in the city. Some go as far as to register a child as soon as it is conceived, as a number of top schools have waiting lists of up till two years.

The idea is to let a child become accustomed to a particular class, its norms and values, and to excel academically. "Students from these schools are the ones who occupy some of the most powerful positions in society. Such schools allow them to make useful contacts, which helps them throughout their life," claims one parent.

"A child's schooling is very important: if the roots are strong the tree will grow steady," says Zil-e-Huma, an expecting mother, who is worried about which montessori to register her unborn child in.

There are some parents who consider this ultra-competitive trend to be "madness", yet are faced with a dearth of quality schools in the city. "I always looked down upon parents who went to such extremes, but when my first son became three years of age, I found out I was already late, far too late, for admission. Therefore, I was extra careful when I had my second son," says Faaria Ali, a university professor.

Salman Asif Siddiqui, Director of the Education Resource Development Centre (ERDC), blames such a mindset on a "mindlessness" that is prevalent in society. "Over 90 percent of all parents think all education is exam-oriented; they want an A+ from their child even if it means killing the child's creativity."

He is highly critical of most schools, and claims they are the primary reason for the stunting of a child's creativity. "Children are born curious and creative; schools try to tame them. For a school, it is more important for a child to be obedient and un-questioning; these are the prime qualities of a well-behaved student."

A few parents who have rejected the existing school system, which they feel does nothing more than produce 'cookie-cutter' individuals who maintain the status-quo, have considered homeschooling as a viable alternative option.

"In the US homeschooling is a rapidly growing phenomenon and there are millions of children who are homeschooled". In Karachi, a small group of parents have also begun homeschooling their children. They have created an online group, which they use to discuss issues such as what books to use. The site is a forum where suggestions are made, arguments put forward, and like-minded families can socialize, so that their children have a peer group network.

While some want to form a registered education board for homeschoolers, others argue that an education board means "regulations, red tape, and bureaucracy", and ask if home-schooling is supposed to be about "thinking out of the box, why go back into the box again".

Such parents believe that the traditional twenty three year long formal education process is far too 'theory-based', and that is the reason why more and more MBAs and MBBS are still left looking for jobs, instead of using their own skills to 'create jobs'. The parents realise, however, that the process of homeschooling is difficult and time-consuming in an age that promotes specialization and individuals with a narrow and focused skill-set.

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PMA criticises govt, PMDC for 'making a mockery' of medical education
Karachi: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has strongly criticised the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) for recognising medical colleges which lack a comprehensive faculty and do not provide a 500-bed facility for training their students.

The association has further criticised the statutory body of the medical educational institutions for allowing students of four unrecognised medical colleges in Punjab to appear in the first-year exams. PMA officials claim that one of these colleges does not even have its own faculty and building.

Addressing a press conference at the PMA House in Karachi on Monday, PMA office-bearers Prof Tipu Sultan, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, Dr Idrees Adhi and Dr Qaiser Sajjad strongly criticised the government and the PMDC for "making a mockery of medical education" in the country.

They claimed that due to political interests, the government had appointed Dr Asim Hussain, who is a personal friend of President Zardari, as vice president of the PMDC, and that the statutory body had reached a new high of corruption in the field of medical education.

"One example was when 70 students from Afghanistan were allowed admission to medical colleges in the country without having them appear in a proficiency test; this is ridiculous and against the norms of higher education," said Dr Sultan.

Criticising the nominated members of the PMDC, they said that its members remained silent about irregularities within the institution, while any objection raised by the elected representative from Sindh, Dr Sher Shah Syed, was not even mentioned in the minutes of PMDC meetings.

The PMA office-bearers demanded of the government to make the PMDC an independent institution and increase the number of its elected representatives so that the quality of medical education in the country could be ensured. They also criticised successive governments for ignoring the health sector, and vowed to invite leaders of different political parties to the PMA house to ascertain their health policies. The news

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KU evening programme merit list being issued
Karachi: The merit list of candidates admitted to the University of Karachi`s BS, Hons, MBA and MCS evening programme will be issued on Tuesday (today) and the same will be posted on the varsity`s website the same day, said a KU official on Monday.

Besides, an upgraded merit list of candidates admitted to the university`s Pharm-D (evening) programme would also be issued on Tuesday.

KU Admission CommitteeDirector Prof Khalid Iraqi said that the successful candidates would have to submit their admission fee from Jan 11 to Jan 16.

He said that the orientation session for all those admitted to the university`s morning and evening programmes would be held on Jan 14, while their academic session 2012 would commence on Jan 16.

Around 2,500 students had been given admission to 35 departments of the university in its evening programme and an almost similar num-ber of students were admitted to the university`s 54 departments in its morning programme.

The total strength of the students, including those already studying in the university, would be over 25,000 for the academic session 2012, he added.

ADE admission list tomorrow The list of successful candidates for admission to the Sindh education department`s newly-intro-duced two-year Associated Degree in Education (ADE) programme will be displayed on Tuesday at all three government elementary colleges of the city, according to an announcement.

The classes of the 2012 academic session for new entrants of the programme will commence on Jan 16 at these colleges, located at Hussainabad, Lyari and Sindhi Hotel.

Sources in the provincial education department said that ADEwould ultimately replace the CT (Certificate in Teaching) and PTC (Primary Teaching Certificate) courses and those possessing the ADE degree would be given preference in appointments in the public sector schools.

The curriculum of the ADE programme has already been devised in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and approved by the Higher Education Commission, according to them. Dawn

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