Pakistan’s First Parenting Magazine

Iqra University vs. Raffles University

The Shortcomings of Pakistani Institutions

By Maria Faheem

My first experience in China was that of an explorer from another land, uncovering and discovering everything that was foreign and connecting all that was familiar despite the distinction in cultures. This was in the year 2004 when my father was in the country for a course of study. When he later began working here, I took up the opportunity Allah had presented me with and enrolled in the bachelors program for interior design conducted in Australian University Raffles in Beijing. I left behind my choice of social sciences and a year’s worth of study at Iqra University in Pakistan, to assimilate myself within a new culture and grow through a new experience. The change was at first overwhelmingly abrupt and the transition was not one that was easy to make. At the same time, it was an exciting prospect and I allowed myself to make comparisons between the two institutions with an open mind.

Through my experience in my former university, I observed the timidity of students when it came to communicating with their instructors; a problem that I associated with the prevalence of favoritism and the preference of one student over another by a teacher who is unaware of the implications of their partiality. These lecturers were also not very good at educating a student, even though they might possess the required knowledge and qualifications to teach. The lack of importance afforded to creativity and the absence of encouragement to foster originality of thought led students to feel unsupported and face problems in the working world. With the absence of proper research facilities came the phenomenon of plagiarism. The competitive nature of the classroom led a strong student to deny assistance to a weaker student, who would in turn even be spurned by a teacher when it came to facilitating. Sadly, most girls saw higher education as a way to pass the time while they engrossed themselves in things such as makeup, fashion and other people’s private lives while they searched for husbands who would work instead of them. On the contrary, most of the boys were hardworking students who were sabotaged by their own misgivings as they contemplated their bleak futures. The ones that came from upper-middle class backgrounds were passed in their courses even if they did not attend classes since the one element that can indiscriminately be found in nearly every university in Pakistan is class-based politics.

My life in Australian University Raffles cannot be more different. The students handle their education and the prospect of their careers with a maturity and an open-mindedness that was lacking in my former class fellows. The lecturers conduct their classes with humility along with the students, they ensure that an aura of mutual respect exists in the classroom. I have yet to see an instructor here taking out the toll of a bad day or a weak performance on a student. The rules against plagiarism are strict and clear. Instead of merely highlighting the repercussions of plagiarism, teachers offer preventive techniques involving research and presentation. The students keep themselves busy with their own lives, thus ensuring that they do not have time to talk about anyone else’s lifestyle choices or sense of style. In my current university, the experience following one’s graduation is something most students look forward to with excitement rather than apprehension as they are connected with strong internships and helped to forge connections with possible employers. For the first time in my life I have been encouraged to enjoy myself while learning, through extremely interactive and challenging lectures, a dispensation of strict rules as well as helpful and encouraging teachers.

Knowledge of such matters and the training of teachers would elicit an exemplary performance of students in Pakistan because the only thing Pakistani students are not lacking in is potential. If they are treated as who they are, as the future of their country, they will rise to that which is expected of them to create a future that is bright and serves to only do better with each subsequent generation.

Maria Faheem is an interior designer and a graduate of Raffles University, Beijing

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