Keeping them illiterate

By Zubeida Mustafa

Going by the number of education policies announced in Pakistan since 1947, the volume of reports produced by commissions on this issue of direct concern to human development and the statements issued by government dignitaries pledging their commitment to universalising education, one would have thought that by now  Pakistan must be heading the world  education league.

What is the reality? The UNDP, which compiles the Human Development Index using schooling as one of the criteria, tells us another story. In its 2015 report, Pakistan is categorised as a Low Human Development country and ranks 147th out of 188 states. The mean years of schooling for children is 4.7 years and only a third of the population above 25 has had some secondary schooling. Continue reading “Keeping them illiterate”

Indomitable to the very end

Indomitable to the very end

A tribute to renowned journalist Naushaba Burney (1932-2016).

Over 60 years ago, a young woman in her twenties walked into a classroom at Karachi University to teach journalism to a bunch of young students, most of whom were men. There were not many female students then in this newly launched institution of higher education located in the heart of Karachi. To have a woman teach men of her own age was something unusual and it could have deterred the boldest of women.

For Naushaba Burney this was a challenge. She acquitted herself with grace and won many admirers. Her education abroad gave her the confidence to play a pioneering role in a predominantly male environment. Having studied at Columbia University, the University of California Berkeley and the University of Oregon, Eugene from 1953-1956, Naushaba was highly qualified for the job she had clinched. Continue reading “Indomitable to the very end”

Memories: Tributes to Naushaba Burney

The Children’s Literature Festival in Karachi ended on Saturday 26 Feb 2016. Where were you Naushaba? We used to be the two “senior juniors” in this event ever since it was launched by Baela Raza Jamil in 2011. We travelled together to Lahore, Islamabad, and Quetta and enjoyed the company of the youth. This time it was lonely without you.Your family and friends miss you. Here is how they remember you.(ZM)

OUR MOTHER WHO WANTED TO BE THE BEST … AND WAS

With daughters and granddaughter

By Samya Burney on behalf of her siblings

AMMA always worked when we were kids as she enjoyed the stimulation and also needed the money.  However, she worked part-time for quite a while when we were young so that she could balance her career and time with us. She finally decided to go back to working full-time when she accepted a job at PIA, writing speeches for the chairman as well as articles for Humsafar, among other things. Continue reading “Memories: Tributes to Naushaba Burney”

My friend Naushaba

 

NaushabaBy Zubeida Mustafa

SHE was a fellow traveller in our journey in journalism and before long we became friends. That was Naushaba Burney whose death last week has robbed many of us of a valuable supporter who infused moral strength in us during critical times. She began her career as a teacher, and as good teachers do, she knew the art of bringing out the best in those she interacted with.I can’t even recall the first time I met her. She seems to have been around in the wide and colourful canvas of friends I have cherished all my life. Having launched on her professional career before I did she had already made a mark and was recognised for her talent. After graduating in journalism from Berkeley in the 1950s, she began teaching at the University of Karachi. Although she left the University after a few years at heart she remained a teacher forever. Continue reading “My friend Naushaba”

A Visit to Vietnam

By Rabab Naqvi

geust-contOnce you step out on the streets of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, it is hard to believe that this is a country that was devastated by war not long ago. My cousin, Rashida, responded to my email from Vietnam, “I am glad you are having a nice stay in Vietnam. My mind still carries the war ravaged scenes of that country of 40 or 50 years ago”. To find remnants of war today one has to go to the War Museum and the Cu Chi tunnel complex.  Hanoi, which was bombed during the war, buzzes with life. Amidst restaurants, hotels, shopping plazas and bazaars pretty women and handsome men scurry around. Vietnamese are blessed with good looks and good figures. Men and women both drive motorcycles on roads and highways. Vietnam has the highest number of two-wheelers per capita. Whole families somehow manage to fit on one motorcycle. It is amazing how they can carry an incredible amount of stuff of varying shapes and sizes on a motorcycle. It appears to be their main mode of Continue reading “A Visit to Vietnam”

Ideas-2006: what did it achieve?

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE government has billed the much hyped up Ideas-2006, the fourth exhibition of defence equipment to be held in Karachi last week, as a big success. The grand display of various weapon systems with indigenised names was said to be good for the countrys image. If nothing else, it was claimed that the exhibition proved beyond doubt that Pakistan had advanced technologically and could manufacture tanks and aircraft.

In the absence of technical evaluation from independent sources we cannot be sure how much of the defence manufacturing is local and how much it involves merely the skill of assembling various parts manufactured abroad as our car industry is doing. But Ideas-2006 had a negative impact in one important respect, apart from the traffic woes it created for the citizens of Karachi. It has focused attention sharply on the imbalance in the governments financial and policy priorities. Concern was voiced frequently in the talk shows held by television channels that the government is spending heavily on defence while the social sectors are being neglected.
Continue reading “Ideas-2006: what did it achieve?”

Why Karachi turned into a cesspool when it rained

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE rains this monsoon have devastated Karachi. The impression sought to be created by the city fathers on whom blame is being heaped is that the rainfall this year was exceptionally heavy. It is also being suggested that the city has never emerged unscathed whenever it has poured. But these are myths. First of all it must be pointed out that admittedly the rain in late July and August this year was more than what is normal in lean years. But it did not set any record. In the last few weeks Karachi has had 289 mm of rain. Not a fantastic figure by any means.

In 2003 the city received 308 mm. What is more, it received 105 mm in a few hours on July 28, 2003 when the city was drenched with water which drained out from the main thoroughfares in a day or two. This year the maximum rain Karachi received in one spell was 80 mm and the water continued to flood many areas and key communication arteries for over ten days. It also flooded many homes and shops in the Clifton area that had been Continue reading “Why Karachi turned into a cesspool when it rained”

Doing more for mental health

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

Last week, the Pakistan Association for Mental Health (PAMH) observed the mental health week to coincide with the world mental health day on October 10 organized globally by the World Federation for Mental Health and WHO. This is an annual event.

Much as cynics might be tempted to brush it off as a ritual which has no impact, any discerning observer of the scene cannot fail to note the awareness which has been created in Pakistan, thanks to the endeavours of the PAMH.
Continue reading “Doing more for mental health”

Filling a vacuum

89-11-07-1995

By Zubeida Mustafa

Wnen I went to call on Safina Siddiqi on her return from South Africa where she had gone to receive UNEP’s Global 500 Roll of Honour award on the World Environment Day, she was not home. Her house-help who has been with the family for over 20 years duly informed me that she was somewhere in the neighbourhood. I set out to hunt for her, being familiar as I was with her favourite haunts. Within five minutes I had located Safina. There she was at the roadside supervising the planting of saplings. Her hands were full of soil, for she considers her supervision incomplete if she does not show her personal involvement in the work by joining the gardeners in their task.

That did not surprise me. For that is how I have always found Safina — down-to-earth, unassuming with no airs about her and always ready to pitch in when help is needed. No sooner had I asked her how she was, that her eyes lit up and she went on to give me the details of how she had planted sixty-two saplings further down the road before she left for Pretoria. Continue reading “Filling a vacuum”