Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teach For Pakistan--Volunteer For the Noblest Profession

Guest Post by Rakesh Mani

With all the depressing news coming out of Pakistan in the last few months, there is one major development that has me hopeful and excited. Last month saw the launch of the Teach For Pakistan movement, which aims to expand the urban poor’s access to quality education by recruiting highly qualified young Pakistanis to teach in under-resourced schools for two years. In the long-run, these ‘fellows’ will go on to be successful leaders in various other fields, but will continue to support local educational initiatives from their positions of influence.



In the US, Teach For America (which the movement in Pakistan is modelled on) has been operating for over 20 years — with tremendous academic impact. Most alumni, over 60 percent in fact, have stayed within the field of education and continue to make an impact as educators and social entrepreneurs. In India, we launched a similar movement in the summer of 2009.

Almost two years ago, I was sufficiently inspired by the transformational power of grassroots work in education to come join Teach For India in Mumbai. But it was not easy. Leaving behind my banking job in New York meant exposing myself to financial insecurity, living the Spartan life of a schoolteacher and battling social and parental misgivings. But I was not alone either. I was inspired by 87 young idealists who had joined with me — all giving up lucrative careers and moving cities, countries and continents.

Teaching in Mumbai’s harsh Prem Nagar slums, some sights and sounds have become permanently etched in my mind — the family of five who cannot afford to send all their children to school, and therefore picked two, a girl and a boy; the beatings that a 3rd grade student can receive at home for scoring poorly on a weekly class test; a young girl reciting a poem from memory in fluent English without understanding a word of what she is saying.

My worldview changed dramatically as I saw firsthand the stark challenges of poverty — illiteracy, child labour, abuse and the privations imposed by caste hierarchies. I was astounded by this contradictory nation — innovative yet impoverished, globally oriented yet parochially sectarian.

Despite the posturing of our politicians and patriotic czars, the reality is that the lowest sections of Indian and Pakistani society are united by their shared sorrows. The education received by a child is still largely determined by their birthplace and their socio-economic background. If Nehru and Jinnah could see our countries today, 62 years after independence, nothing would shock them more than the extent of illiteracy among the masses. They would be appalled that half the adult population (and more than half the female population) remains unable to read and write, and powerless to break the cycle of poverty and servitude.

In India, 15 out of every 100 children will never attend school. And among the 85 children who do, 50 percent will drop out before 5th grade.

The challenges are manifold and multi-layered. Firstly, there is limited access to schools (particularly in rural areas) and, in cases where they do exist, the quality of education is often poor and the infrastructure abysmal. For example, a recent study showed that only 55 percent of schools in India have separate toilets for girls — a major reason for parents not sending their daughters to study. Teacher absenteeism is rampant and textbooks, as vehicles for government propaganda, offer little contextual relevance in a student’s everyday life.

Education here largely involves the teacher playing narrator in the classroom. Students are receptacles who are trained to memorise and reproduce. The more meekly they accomplish this, the better students they are. But as young children are forced to submit to rote learning, they lose the critical consciousness they will need to succeed in the years to come. And as they embrace educational passivity, they also more readily accept the imperfections and injustices their societies impose on them.

The young leaders of this movement have a chance to provide young children with the essential tools for self-defence and empowerment in tomorrow’s Asia. Imagine the socio-economic revolution possible if our youth are better equipped to compete for secure employment, to defend themselves in court, to enforce their rights, to take advantage of technology and to take part, intelligently, in political activity.

Even without teaching full-time, there are numerous ways to contribute and be a part of the solution. Your time and presence is the most valuable commodity you can part with. Volunteering in classrooms and talking about your life and work allows students to fashion a broader mindset. They learn to communicate more effectively and find role models to emulate. Even something as simple as donating and reading out simple, colourful storybooks — which affluent children have easy access to — makes a huge impact.

In just two years as a teacher, I ended up learning much more than I could ever teach. And I hope that the thousands of young, accomplished Pakistanis who join and support Teach For Pakistan will have a similarly profound experience — in humility, perseverance and leadership.

Note: This piece was first published in Pakistan's Daily Times

Here's a brief video presentation on Teach For Pakistan:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Teach For All

Pakistan Must Fix its Primary Education Crisis

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Student Performance By Country and Race

India Shining and Bharat Drowning

South Asian IQs

Low Literacy Rates Threaten Pakistan's Future

Light a Candle, Don't Curse Darkness

Mobile Phones For Mass Literacy in Pakistan

Poor Quality of Higher Education in South Asia

Teaching Facts vs Reasoning

51 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

India's IT billionaire Azim Premji has recently given $2 billion to set up a foundation to improve primary education in India.

From what I have read about it, I believe Premji is making a great investment in the future of India by focusing on the improvement of primary education. That's where the process of rote learning starts as children and stays with the students through higher levels of education which can at best prepare robotic code coolies and intellectually subservient others who mindlessly copy the western model.

It does not produce creative and original thinkers and doers needed to solve South Asia's massive problems resulting from rising population amid rapidly declining resources.

Anonymous said...

It does not produce creative and original thinkers and doers needed to solve South Asia's massive problems resulting from rising population amid rapidly declining resources.

Then why is it that people from this education system routinely beat the western students in their own collages at the post graduation level when they migrate to the west?

In anycase i seriously doubt that creativity can be taught in a classroom the way maths can be taught.I think creativity is a function of social conditioning NOT formal education.

And national pride aside copying can be far far more economically efficient than reinventing the wheel with a large risk of failure.

There is reason why most asian countries starting with Japan have modernized rapidly by copying and later adapting western ideas and technology.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Then why is it that people from this education system routinely beat the western students in their own collages at the post graduation level when they migrate to the west?"

Routinely beat at what? At doing what has been done mullion of times before them?

Let's face it. The nature of the problems South Asia faces are very different with their massive and growing populations amid scarcity of resources like air, water, land and energy.

If South Asians simply copy the West and try to live like Americans, it would take the resources of 5 planets earth...an impossible proposition. So they have to find different way to grow and utilize resources far more efficiently than the West has done during its development in an earlier era.

It's a completely different ball game requiring new playbooks and new rules.

What India and Pakistan need are more Norman Borlaugs rather than more Bill Gateses to feed their populations.

Anonymous said...

And wife of a friend of mine is a teacher at NJ school. it seems, indian rote learning in school, which we all frown upon, is being acknowledged as better than american school system has to offer. Recently she was mentioning it to me.

And BTW chinese and east asian education system is also rote learning.

Riaz Haq said...

For those unfamiliar with Azim Premji's efforts to improve primary education in India, here's an excerpt from a recent NY Times piece titled "Skipping Rote Memorization in Indian Schools":

.. the classrooms of Nagla are a laboratory for an educational approach unusual for an Indian public school. Rather than being drilled and tested on reproducing passages from textbooks, students write their own stories. And they pursue independent projects — as when fifth-grade students recently interviewed organizers of religious festivals and then made written and oral presentations.

That might seem commonplace in American or European schools. But such activities are revolutionary in India, where public school students have long been drilled on memorizing facts and regurgitating them in stressful year-end exams that many children fail.

Nagla and 1,500 other schools in this Indian state, Uttarakhand, are part of a five-year-old project to improve Indian primary education that is being paid for by one of the country’s richest men, Azim H. Premji, chairman of the information technology giant Wipro. Education experts at his Azim Premji Foundation are helping to train new teachers and guide current teachers in overhauling the way students are taught and tested at government schools.

Anonymous said...

Actually hard work is often derided as rote learning in the US.

Basically life isn't all fun and games and excitement there is a considerable amount of pain and grudgework involved in ANY academic endavour,Indians and East Asians seem to excel at this which probably explains why Indians have the highest per capita income of any major national subgroup in the USA.

Also I refuse to buy the argument that the US is somehow organically more creative creativity is a two way street if the correct social and market conditions exist ppl from good engineering colleges like IIT,DCE etc have created innovative startups like Sun microsystems,hotmail,juniper networks etc when given opportunities that silicon valley affords them.

As the Indian economy develops you see a large number of innovative companies cropping up.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Also I refuse to buy the argument that the US is somehow organically more creative creativity is a two way street if the correct social and market conditions exist ppl from good engineering colleges like IIT,DCE etc have created innovative startups like Sun microsystems,hotmail,juniper networks etc when given opportunities that silicon valley affords them."

It's no accident that almost all of the major breakthroughs of the last 50-100 years ranging from the light bulb, DNA discovery-sequencing, transistor, integrated circuits, computer programming, the Internet, to nanotechnology have come from the United States.

The culture of innovation can not come from a culture of conformity and obedience that is so common in Asia.

Original thinking requires room for questioning and reasoning and an end to rote learning.

Our young people need to be given more freedom to think and innovate to compete with the West rather than simply copy what has already been done to solve the problems of the West.

Universities in Asia need to encourage research and innovation to solve Asia's problems today to come up with a new industrial revolution that is sustainable given the rising populations and declining natural resources.

It requires new ways of organizing societies to address Asia's unique problems in the interest of the greater good of the communities and societies.

Intellectual subservience to the West will not solve Asia's problems going forward.

Anonymous said...

It's no accident that almost all of the major breakthroughs of the last 50-100 years ranging from the light bulb, DNA discovery-sequencing, transistor, integrated circuits, computer programming, the Internet, to nanotechnology have come from the United States.

That's because the US has been the world's largest economy for the past 100 years and not had a war fought on its soil since the civilo war.
Peace and prosperity=ideal ground for innovation.

USSR had a very rigorous you could say rote based asian style education system.

Yet they beat the US with sputnik,yuri gagarin,first weaponized H bomb ,space station,nuclear fusion(tokamaks),heart and lung machine,laser eye surgery,first interplanetary space priobe etc etc etc

Germany also has a very thorough education system with emphasis on physics,maths and memorization of vast amount of classical texts.

Are Germans not innovative?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "That's because the US has been the world's largest economy for the past 100 years and not had a war fought on its soil since the civilo war.
Peace and prosperity=ideal ground for innovation."

It's quite possible that peace contributed to it, but you can not discount the importance of the culture of openness, questioning and reasoning as a strong foundation for America's creativity.

Anon: "Yet they beat the US with sputnik,yuri gagarin,first weaponized H bomb ,space station,nuclear fusion(tokamaks),heart and lung machine,laser eye surgery,first interplanetary space priobe etc etc etc

Germany also has a very thorough education system with emphasis on physics,maths and memorization of vast amount of classical texts."

I agree the that US has no monopoly on creativity, but the hundred year record shows that it excels in it.

Anonymous said...

It requires new ways of organizing societies to address Asia's unique problems in the interest of the greater good of the communities and societies.

Intellectual subservience to the West will not solve Asia's problems going forward.

Nobel thought but if you'll excuse me for saying what is your alternative? Sharia and islamic law??

No thanks India's current priority is to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty and become a middle income country in the next 20 years or so.Its important to follow the path of least resistance and run with what works.

Adapting other's ideas is a sign of strenghth.The West's science and tech is based on the indian decimal number syste.(now called hindu-arabic number system since the west learnt it from the arabs during moorish spain)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_numerals

The west did not reject it saying it was 'foreign' but readily assimilated it and developed it further since as a cultural entity they saw the advantages of it.

Similarly we see great benefits in adopting western concepts of democracy,free markets,rule of law,capitalism and secularism.

Anonymous said...

It's no accident that almost all of the major breakthroughs of the last 50-100 years ranging from the light bulb, DNA discovery-sequencing, transistor, integrated circuits, computer programming, the Internet, to nanotechnology have come from the United States.

Actually Riaz the US overtook the UK as the world's largest economy in 1896 BUT was a very distant also ran compared to Germany,UK,France in Science and tech ttill the 1940s(That's 50 years!).

WW 2 was the manna from heaven for the US when massive brain drain of Europe catapulted them to supremacy.

US science and tech might was and is built on massive brain drain from the rest of the world to its universities first from Europe then from Asia.Its school system according to PISA is near the bottom in OECD.

As Asia modernizes and the educated middle class fine cushier jobs at home the brain drain will slow to a small trickle and US science and tech dominance will reduce over the coming decades to a point where it is first among equals instead of the position of running a one man race it is currently in.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "WW 2 was the manna from heaven for the US when massive brain drain of Europe catapulted them to supremacy."

The industrial revolution did start in Europe, particularly the UK, and then came to the United States.

Anon: "US science and tech might was and is built on massive brain drain from the rest of the world to its universities first from Europe then from Asia.Its school system according to PISA is near the bottom in OECD."

I don't buy these PISA or other rankings which are based on standardized tests that measure acquisition of facts rather than capacity to think and create.

The best measure of creative prowess is to look at the number of original innovations and Nobels that go the US scientists every year....the list is very very long, and most of the recipients are born and raised in the US.

The US higher education is miles ahead of any nation in the world, and its universities attract and produce the best and the brightest scientists, engineers and thinkers.

Anonymous said...

The US higher education is miles ahead of any nation in the world, and its universities attract and produce the best and the brightest scientists, engineers and thinkers.

no question about it BUT ultimately the #1 reason for that is the mega $$$ poured into research every year which is correspomdingly higher than other countries as China and 10-20 years later India close the science spending gap in the 2030-2050 timeframe this will not always be the case.

Anonymous said...

The industrial revolution did start in Europe, particularly the UK, and then came to the United States.

US and Germany industrialized at about the same time but whereas Germany practically created modern physics as we know it US had no theoretical physicist of the caliber of Heisenberg,Einstein,Max Planc etc etc

On a per capita basis Germany is still about equal to the US in innovation.Strenghts are different US is unbeatable in IT,biotech etc Gemany in the classics mechanical engineering,electrical etc etc

number of innovations and Fortune 500 companies per capita is slightly higher in Germany than USA.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "On a per capita basis Germany is still about equal to the US in innovation.Strenghts are different US is unbeatable in IT,biotech etc Gemany in the classics mechanical engineering,electrical etc etc"

I think the word "innovation" here is used loosely to describe every minor patentable improvement to a product or process.

Personally, I am hard pressed to think of any fundamental breakthrough coming out Germany after WW II.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "no question about it BUT ultimately the #1 reason for that is the mega $$$ poured into research every year which is correspomdingly higher than other countries as China and 10-20 years later India close the science spending gap in the 2030-2050 timeframe this will not always be the case."

Dollars help, but I think culture of innovation can not be bought.

It requires more of a social change to promote free thinking and free inquiry unencumbered by stifling old social customs and traditions.

Mayraj said...

I do not know that teach for America is that successful:
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9LOIGQG0.htm

I think it can only supplement regular teachers;and the falling record of American students compared to students from other countries in those 20 years doesn't indicate progress.

I think Teach for Pakistan will raise awareness of Pakistan's needs amongst those who volunteer and that is a good thing. It can maybe help students become more motivated, through a temp mentoring program. I think these students should teach Pakistani students how to get educated from knowledge on the net. There is so much out there. It will help them make up for what they are not getting in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "I do not know that teach for America is that successful"

Pakistan faces major challenges in terms of providing universal access to and improving quality of primary and secondary education in the public sector.

The nation needs a lot more functioning public schools and teachers to get gross enrollment up to assure that it can achieve close to 100% basic literacy at some point in the future.

The quality of primary education is also very poor. It's essentially rote learning that does not challenge students to think and create anything on their own.

If motivated young college educated people can fill the gap and develop a spirit of volunteerism, it will be a good thing for Pakistan's future.

At a minimum, it'll teach them to light a candle rather than curse darkness.

Anonymous said...

"Then why is it that people from this education system routinely beat the western students in their own collages at the post graduation level when they migrate to the west?"

Utter bullshit! The percentage of college educated kids in India is << than that in the West. This is a really poor comparison. How do South Asians stack up? Read this:

http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~tzajonc/india_shining_jan27_flat.pdf

"Children enrolled in secondary schools in these two Indian states are 3.1 (OECD) standard deviations
below the OECD mean. Since secondary enrollment in India is below that of other countries in the TIMSS study, the performance of the median child is almost certainly considerably worse."


This is consistent with a South Asian IQ of approximately 85, which is a good 15 points below the White mean. Whites don't dominate the ranks of Nobel laureates and Fields Medalists being stupid ... and stupid people didn't make the airplane, harness electricity, create symplectic geometry, the transistor, the polio vaccine, the MRI, the internal-combustion engine, modern democracy, the theory of Banach spaces, prove Fermat's last theorem and the Poincare conjecture, propose those conjectures, compose the Moonlight Sonata, discover the purine-pyrimidine structure of the DNA ladder, and pretty much everything that separates the civilized from the uncivilized. Who are the best Mathematicians, Physicists and Computer Scientists in the world? IITians? Hell no. Use statistics to correct your biases and get off your high horse.

Anonymous said...

"Its school system according to PISA is near the bottom in OECD."

This has to do with the cohort taking the test - expect things to get worse. There really is NO better predictor of a populations success than getting a good sense of the demographic mix.

http://www.vdare.com/sailer/101219_pisa.htm

To wit:

" *

Asian Americans outscored every Asian country, and lost out only to the city of Shanghai, China’s financial capital.
*

White Americans students outperformed the national average in every one of the 37 historically white countries tested, except Finland (which is, perhaps not coincidentally, an immigration restrictionist nation where whites make up about 99 percent of the population).
*

Hispanic Americans beat all eight Latin American countries.
*

African Americans would likely have outscored any sub-Saharan country, if any had bothered to compete. The closest thing to a black country out of PISA’s 65 participants is the fairly prosperous oil-refining Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago, which is roughly evenly divided between blacks and South Asians. African Americans outscored Trinidadians by 25 points.
"

America does a pretty good job educating its kids, and a pretty poor job controlling its borders. That's the memo.

Anonymous said...

Riaz, I can see you have chosen not to post my other comment about the performance of American schools vis-a-vis the rest of the world, perhaps due to a link to a rather politically incorrect site. I do hope you will post this comment at least so that the notion that America's "school system according to PISA is near the bottom in OECD" is looked at from the right perspective. While I too am a desi, I find desi supremacism rather unfortunate, unbearable, and unmoored from reality.

PISA summary:

"Asian Americans outscored every Asian country, and lost out only to the city of Shanghai, China’s financial capital.
*

White Americans students outperformed the national average in every one of the 37 historically white countries tested, except Finland (which is, perhaps not coincidentally, an immigration restrictionist nation where whites make up about 99 percent of the population).
*

Hispanic Americans beat all eight Latin American countries.
*

African Americans would likely have outscored any sub-Saharan country, if any had bothered to compete. The closest thing to a black country out of PISA’s 65 participants is the fairly prosperous oil-refining Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago, which is roughly evenly divided between blacks and South Asians. African Americans outscored Trinidadians by 25 points."

Really, the trends alluded to about falling US PISA scores are all about demographics. The school system works fairly well, as the above data indicates.

Anonymous said...

^^

A few points:

1.Rajasthan and Orissa are two of the most backward states of India.

The two Indian states that participated in PISA are Tamil Nadu and Uttaranchal we will see the results at the end of 2011.

2.Top 5% are according to the study comparable to Norway since middle class in these backward states are about 5% it is quite creditable that practically ALL middle class children in even the most backward states of India are at par with Norway with per capita income of $70,000 which spends much much more on each child than middle class Indians do.

3.The very low scores of most children can be attributed to the unfortunate fact that they are first generation literates and it is known that children of educated parents do far better due to the condusive atmosphere at home.

Anonymous said...

Riaz, I apologize for this long post. There is tons of data that refutes the arguments being made, and I have put references to literature to strengthen by refutations.

"A few points: ... "

All easy to debunk:

1. Read the whole paper not the first 2 pages before you choose to comment. This has been addressed in the paper itself:

"The results from a countrywide testing exercise in rural areas (Pratham 2006) gives us some sense of where these states lie in the Indian distribution. Among children tested in Grade 8 countrywide (rural areas only), 82.4 percent could read a story, 75.2 percent could divide and 95.5 percent
could write. The average of Orissa (83.98 percent (read), 71 percent (divide) and 95.3 percent (write)) and Rajasthan (92.9 percent can read, 92.4 percent can divide and 98.5 percent can write)is surprisingly not far off the Indian average—if anything, these results suggest that children in these two states may be scoring higher than the rest of the country. " Do also note that Table 5 summarizes where India would stand as a country, in terms of mean Math achievement, and it is essentially on par with Palestine, and worse than Egypt and Tunisia.

2. More or less correct. Do note a few things though:

a) Norway has the lowest IQ variance of all OECD countries. It's "smart fraction" is really dumb by OECD standards. Please refer to this paper by Professor Heiner Rindermann:

http://www.iratde.org/issues/1-2009/tde_issue_1-2009_03_rindermann_et_al.pdf

b) Norway's 95th percentile is 1/3rd of a standard deviation above India's. This is non-trivial.

3. "The very low scores of most children can be attributed to the unfortunate fact that they are first generation literates and it is known that children of educated parents do far better due to the condusive atmosphere at home."

Please refrain from spouting pet theories and present something that is backed up by data. This has little to do with "atmosphere at home" and more to do with genes passed on to offspring.

See this post by Yale/U Oregon Theoretical Physicist and polymath Steve Hsu:

http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2009/11/mystery-of-nonshared-environment.html

Also see adoption studies (specifically, the Minnesota transracial adoption study) that indicate that environment has a statistically limited impact on offspring IQs.

Also note that African-American children of parents with graduate degrees have lower SAT scores than white children of parents with a high-school diploma or less (refer to La Griffe du Lion, Volume 2 Number 3, March 2000). This too negates your hypothesis. Please offer data-based rebuttals next time. Also, if you choose to cast aspersions on the authors of these papers, do so by providing an alternative list of papers or technical literature.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts from scienceprogress.org analysis of US PISA results that concludes white students are doing very well relative to other OECD nations:

Policy makers are responding to reports that students in the United States on average scored lower than their peers in 16 out of 30 other wealthy industrialized nations on an international science exam, predictably arguing that the U.S. performance on the test (the Programme for International Student Assessment) indicates that U.S. students cannot compete in the international workforce. But a recent analysis from the Urban Institute previously discussed on Science Progress suggests otherwise. Talking about “competitiveness” makes it easy to gloss over inequities in the educational system connected to race and class.

News outlets are eager to frame the results as U.S. backsliding in the international economy. The Washington Post quoted former Colorado governor Roy Romer: “How are our children going to be able to compete with the children of the world? The answer is not well.” The Associated Press likewise presented the ranking in a dim light: “In math, U.S. students did even worse — posting an average score that was lower than the average in 23 of the other leading industrialized countries.”

In the Urban report, Into the Eye of the Storm, Harold Salzman and B. Lindsay Lowell acknowledge that policy makers often cite the results from PISA and TIMSS, another international exam, “supposedly showing U.S. students lagging the performance of most other countries.” But using the results to make such sweeping comparisons “stretches the PISA far beyond its appropriate or even intended use.” They go on to make several critical points about the test.

Achievement varies significantly by socioeconomic class and race

The majority of U.S. students, who are white, “actually rank near the very top on international tests.” But minority and low-income students face obstacles to such achievement because of differences in the quality of educational systems and household income. Salzman and Lowell conclude: “The test results indicate that, rather than a policy focus on average science and math scores, there is an urgent need for targeted educational improvement to serve low performing populations, such as recent immigrants and some minorities.”

The diversity of the U.S. population both contributes to economic competitiveness and lowers the average score of students on the test

They point out that the United States “has a large population and the most diverse demographics of any industrialized nation,” and that averaging across such a mixed group of students ignores the size of the population and the distribution of student performance within that population:

What does one infer from comparing the average test score in a nation of over 300 million with that of a nation of 4.5 million (Singapore) or using educational performance as an indicator of economic performance? We would expect India’s 39 percent illiteracy rate and its secondary school enrollment rate of less than 50 percent (World Bank 2007) to make it an inconsequential global power. Of course, that is not the case because rather than average performance it is the small percentage of high performers in a nation of 1 billion that is the more important indicator of its relative science and engineering strength. The use of average rates across a diverse group of nations and diverse populations is of limited use in drawing conclusions about global standing economically or educationally.

Anonymous said...

^^

You do agree that middle class of Rajasthan and Orissa are more or less equal to Norway vis a vis intellectual achievement.

The middle class are not genetically different from the poor in India unlike say south africa where there is a clear white-black divide therefore the abysmal score has to be due to poverty which leads to inferior enviornment for students to learn.

Alas there is a lot more to educational achievement than genetics.That's why even countries with an abundance of 'intelligent genes' invest so much money in educating their children.

Btw how's the neo eugenics movement coming along?

Anonymous said...

This is amusing. If I have the intellectual honesty to agree, with qualification, to one of your points, you choose to ignore the rest of the rebuttal. That betrays both an ignorance of statistics and poor awareness/comprehension of literature.

"The middle class are not genetically different from the poor in India unlike say south africa where there is a clear white-black divide therefore the abysmal score has to be due to poverty which leads to inferior enviornment for students to learn."


And since Subhash Khot, last year's NSF Waterman awardee, is no genetically different from other Indians, it means everyone can be a Subhash Khot, right?

There *IS* a genetic difference between the middle class and the poor within homogeneous populations. Which is why the Beijing Genomics Institute is trying to identify genes (within the Han population itself) that give rise to high IQ. Link here:

http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2010/12/supercomputers-and-mystery-of-iq.html


"Alas there is a lot more to educational achievement than genetics.That's why even countries with an abundance of 'intelligent genes' invest so much money in educating their children."

Did you even read the Turkheimer paper that Dr. Hsu posted on? If you're incapable of reading/understanding technical literature then don't bother to argue.

To simplify things for you:

1. Chinese peasants score better than the Indian middle class on IQ tests.

2. Shanghai, which participated in the PISA, scores better than OECD countries despite having poorer facilities and a far lower investment in education than other countries. New Jersey, in contrast, has the 2nd highest educational spending in the US (see here: http://www.eiaonline.com/statistics/tables3-4.pdf) but pretty poor outcomes. Demographics is destiny!

3. Read this: http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/5422

India has roughly the same number of Mathematically advanced students than S. Korea which has roughly 5% of India's cohort enrolled in schools. There's a reason why the East Asians dominate the Math Olympiads.

Anonymous said...

^^

Ah yes the Han Chinese are the new master race :)

Should have known all along.

We South Asians are destined to be primitive and relatively backward because we don't have the genes to progress. :(

ha ha ha ha

Anonymous said...

If that's a hint of sarcasm, it might only indicate how indoctrinated your are to not see reality for what it is.

Indeed, you will have to bow to your new Asian overlords :)

Arts and culture:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/KD21Ad01.html

General Comparison:

http://www.rediff.com/money/2005/sep/27china.htm

(east asian dominance in education here: http://i36.tinypic.com/28b5uzp.jpg)


http://vikramvgarg.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/india_math.png

"As it turns out, Indian students perform worse than 42 of the 51 countries tested in 2003. The average student from Orissa and Rajasthan could only answer 37 and 34 of the questions correctly whereas the international average was 52. The bottom 5 percent of Indian students perform worse than students of all countries except three. About 85 % of 9th grade Indian students struggled to even choose the minimum value out of the set 0.625, 0.25, 0.375, 0.5 and 0.125.

Many will try and argue that Rajasthan and Orissa are perhaps not the most representative states, however the nationwide Pratham survey (which tests students of lower grades) indicated that these states are among the better performing ones in India when it came to quality of education. If anything the choice of Orissa and Rajasthan might have given a positive bias to the true all India situation."

China's spacewalk vs India's (failed) Chandrayaan mission:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/world/asia/28china.html?_r=1


Computing:

http://www.computerworlduk.com/management/careers-hr/people-management/news/index.cfm?NewsId=15144&RSS

"But of the 70 finalists in it, 20 were from China, 10 from Russia and only two from the US. China's showing in the finals was also helped by the sheer volume of its numbers, 894. India followed at 705, but none of its programmers were finalists."

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/19/0148220

Multiple Chinese teams in the top 10 - none from India.

http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/060909-china-dominates-nsa-backed-coding.html?hpg1=bn

Software superpower India? The code coming out of China is clean, their pool of talented high-IQ, and conscientious people nearly limitless. Wait and watch -- 10 years later China really will have us creamed here too.

Chem Olympiads:

http://punekar.in/site/2009/08/07/india-bags-seventh-spot-at-international-chemistry-olympiad/

India 7th ... China 1st :)

International Math Olympiad - the less said the better. 9 of the last ten years, Chinese have come first. 8 Indians have got golds in the last 40 years - over 40 Chinese have in the last 9. The much vaunted IITians again bite the dust. I mean, in 2006 (individual ranking data checked only for that period), 6 of the top 13 participants at the IMO were Chinese. The top ranking Indian was ranked 140-odd. They probably have a pool of over a 100 students better than the best IITian Math student any given year. That's a mind-blowing performance at the high-IQ end of the spectrum (corroborated by data indicating they have a 20 point IQ edge over India).

We know where the future fields medalists are going to come from.

http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.china/msg/188e5fbe8e021479?pli=1

And the US Math Olympiad team here:

http://www.maa.org/news/062609usimo.html

US Mathcount winners here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_winners_of_the_Mathcounts_competition


Music:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/JL02Ad01.html

Anonymous said...

continued .. part II.



Miscellaneous Comments:

http://tinyurl.com/m6hfvo

China is the ONLY nation out of 104 where all 6 out of 6 participants
were awarded *gold* medals (cutoff: top 1/12 of all contestants).

And the only 2 contestants out of 565 who had perfect marks and who
scored at the 100th% percentile hail from North East Asia:

(a) Makoto Soejima of Japan
(b) Dongyi Wei of China

Now we turn our attention to the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO).
This is their 40th anniversary, and was held in Mérida, Mexico from the
11th July 2009 to the 19th July 2009. Normally students who do well in
math tend to ace physics, but due to the overlap of dates with the IMO
very few if any managed to participate in both events. In other words,
we're sampling a different talent pool here.

Participating countries will send up to 5 students (contestants) to the
IPhO. Gold Medals are awarded to 8% of the contestants; gold or silver
medals are awarded to 25% of the contestants; gold, silver or bronze
medals are awarded to 50% of the contestants; and Olympic Medals or
Honorable Mentions are awarded to 67% of the contestants. That is, the
overall criteria very closely parallels that of the IMO (with exception
of the HM category.)

70 countries participated, with 315 contestants in total (not every
country sent 5 contestants). Unlike the IMO however, the International
Physics Olympiad does not explicitly rank countries. Individual results
are as follows:

http://ipho2009.smf.mx/marks

Top 5 out of 315 contestants:

1. China's Handuo Shi
2. Taiwan's Yu-An Chen
3. Korea's Donggun Kim
4. China's Qian Lin
5. China's Jin Lei

The pattern is once again so eerily familiar with the IMO: all the top
dogs hail from North East Asia.

In fact, the China team once again has a perfect 5/5 record on the gold
medal list. Casual inspection shows no other country achieving this
perfect gold medal record.

Anonymous said...

"Something more than the mental mechanics of classical music makes this decisive for China. In classical music, China has embraced the least Chinese, and the most explicitly Western, of all art forms. Even the best Chinese musicians still depend on Western mentors. Lang Lang may be a star, but in some respects he remains an apprentice in the pantheon of Western musicians. The Chinese, in some ways the most arrogant of peoples, can elicit a deadly kind of humility in matters of learning. Their eclecticism befits an empire that is determined to succeed, as opposed to a mere nation that needs to console itself by sticking to its supposed cultural roots. Great empires transcend national culture and naturalize the culture they require. "

"The world’s largest country is well along the way to forming an intellectual elite on a scale that the world has never seen, and against which nothing in today’s world - surely not the inbred products of the Ivy League puppy mills - can compete."

The Asians eschew religion in favor of the best from the West. They eschew political correctness in favor of what works - be it in social science or the hard sciences. And they're astonishingly smart.

Anonymous said...

Finally, a list of the most recent Putnam Fellows:

Ricky I. Liu (Harvard)
Tiankai Liu (Harvard)
Hansheng Diao (MIT)
Po-Ru Loh (Caltech)
Yufei Zhao (MIT)
Jason C. Bland (Caltech)
Brian R. Lawrence (Caltech)
Qingchun Ren (MIT)
Xuancheng Shao (MIT)
Arnav Tripathy (Harvard)
Seok Hyeong Lee (Stanford)
Bohua Zhan (MIT)
William Johnson (U of Washington)
Xiaosheng Mu (Yale)

On the Putnam contest:

The examination is considered to be very difficult: it is typically attempted by students specializing in mathematics, but the median score is usually one or two points out of 120 possible, and there have been only three perfect scores as of 2008[update]. In 2003, of the 3,615 students taking the exam, 1024 (28%) scored 10 or more points, and 42 points was sufficient to make the top 102.

Many Putnam Fellows have gone on to become distinguished researchers in mathematics and other fields, including three Fields Medalists—Milnor, Mumford, and Quillen—and two Nobel laureates in physics—Feynman and Wilson.

Anonymous said...

^^

Wow but tell me why did the han master race get so comprehensively thrashed over the past 200 years u know Japan,UK...(Just about everybody).

Also why have Indians won more NOBEL PRIZES than Chinese?

(A far more prestigious award than school/college level contests)

Also why is it that 1.4 billion han have collectively created less technology over the past 1000 years than a relatively small country like the UK ?

High IQ genes I'm sure.

Also I'm pretty sure you have few achievements of your own and thus hide behind statistics.

Anonymous said...

"Also why have Indians won more NOBEL PRIZES than Chinese?"

I'd be hard-pressed to believe that you're not an ignoramus, though there is, of course, a chance that you're choosing to be untruthful.

Ethnic Chinese Nobel Laureates in the Sciences:

Steven Chu
Charles K. Kao
Tsung-Dao Lee
Yuan T. Lee
Samuel C. C. Ting
Roger Y. Tsien
Daniel C. Tsui
Chen Ning Yang

Ethnic Indian:

C.V.Raman
S. Chandrasekhar
H.G. Khorana
V. Ramakrishnan

(Also note that 3 of the 4 belong to one highly intelligent subgroup of South Asians, probably the only intelligent group other than the Parsis).

Fields Medalists:

Shing-Tung Yau
Ngô Bảo Châu (ethnic-Chinese from Vietbnan)
Terence Tao

Indians = ZILCH! ZIP ! ZERO!

"Wow but tell me why did the han master race get so comprehensively thrashed over the past 200 years u know Japan,UK...(Just about everybody)"

Everybody ... except India :)

Anyway, the answer probably lies in the Qing dynasty which closed China up and protected against foreign influences.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Rites_controversy

Individual European countries, OTOH, were allowed to build on each others breakthroughs. This historical anomaly is being corrected though, and China will surely occupy center-stage in all respects very shortly. The writing is on the wall, and only a fool will ignore it despite mounds of contrary evidence.

Anonymous said...

"Also I'm pretty sure you have few achievements of your own and thus hide behind statistics."

Err, personal slights in lieu of arguments? Seeing your pathetic command of the English language, your inability to comprehend even social science papers, and your puerile theatrics and shifting goal-posts, I see little basis for you to cast aspersions on my competence. Indeed, while I have few real achievements, I was at least part of the IMOTC (http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/International_Mathematical_Olympiad_Training_Camp), which puts me in a position to understand what real Math is about - something I doubt you have any idea of.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the Express Tribune on small increase in overall literacy led by rural female literacy:

ISLAMABAD: The quest for knowledge in rural areas, particularly in females, compensated for the declining trend of getting an education in cities, according to the Pakistan Labour Force survey.

In 2009-10 the literacy rate in Pakistan marginally increased to 57.7 per cent due to an increase in the literacy ratio of females in rural areas. During the preceding year the literacy rate was 57.4 per cent. The male literacy rate stood at 69.5 per cent while it was 45.2 per cent for females.

According to the official definition, the literacy rate is that percentage of the population ten years and above which is able to read and write in any language.

Though more than half of the rural population is illiterate, the ratio improved by over half a percentage point to 49.2 per cent by June 30, 2010 due to an increasing number of women and girls who can read and write. The female literacy ratio improved to 34.2 per cent, a progress of 0.8 per cent in a year. In rural areas, the 63.6 per cent male literacy rate improved by only 0.4 per cent in comparison. The literacy rate in urban areas marginally declined due to a dip in the number of men who qualify as literate. The urban literacy ratio decreased 0.1 per cent to 73.2 per cent, due to a fractional reduction in the male literacy rate. At present more than eight out of ten urban males are educated but the ratio is below that of 2008-09.

The provincial literacy rates also depict interesting trends. In Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the number of educated people increased, while it decreased in Sindh. The figure remained stagnant in Balochistan at 51.5 per cent. Punjab turned out to be the most educated province, followed by Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber -Pakhtunkhwa.

In Sindh the percentage of educated people dropped by one per cent to 58.2 per cent in 2009-10. The declining ratios were witnessed across the divide, rural, urban, females and males. Contrary to that in Punjab the literacy rate increased to 59.6 per cent. Over half of the rural population is literate and the urban literacy ratio stood at almost three-fourth in the province.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa the literacy rate increased to 50.9 per cent, a progress of almost one per cent. The rural literacy rate increased to 48.4 per cent but the urban literacy dipped by 0.4 per cent. The urban literacy rate increased while the rural literacy rate declined.

In terms of level of education, near four out of ten literate people are not even matriculates. Another one out of ten is below intermediate, the survey reveals. Only 4.7 per cent of the total literate population has cleared intermediate but not bachelor’s and just 4.3 per cent have a bachelor’s or above. Even today over four out of ten Pakistanis are illiterate according to official figures.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has been ranked 10th among the countries in term of human development improvement by the United Nations Development Programme’s 20th Human Development Report 2010, according to Dawn News:

Those among the 135 countries that improved most in Human Development Index (HDI) terms over the past 30 years were led by Oman, which invested energy earnings over the decades in education and public health.

The other nine “Top Movers” are China, Nepal, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Tunisia, South Korea, Algeria and Morocco. Remarkably, China was the only country that made the “Top 10” list due solely to income performance; the main drivers of HDI achievement were in health and education.

The UNDP report said that in Pakistan, between 1980 and 2010, the HDI value increased by 58 per cent (average annual increase of about 1.5 per cent).

“With such an increase Pakistan is ranked 10 in terms of HDI improvement, which measures progress in comparison to the average progress of countries with a similar initial HDI level”, it added.

Pakistan’s life expectancy at birth increased by more than nine years, mean years of schooling increased by about nine years and expected years of schooling increased by almost 4 years.

Pakistan’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased by 92 per cent during the same period. The relative to other countries in the region, in 1980, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh had close HDI values for countries in South Asia.

However, during the period between 1980 and 2010 the three countries experienced different degrees of progress toward increasing their HDIs states the Report.

The Report introduces the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which identifies multiple deprivations in the same households in education, health and standard of living.

The average percentage of deprivation experienced by people in multidimensional poverty is 54 per cent.

The MPI, which is the share of the population that is multi-dimensionally poor, adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.275. Pakistan’s “HDI neighbors”, India and Bangladesh, have MPIs of 0.296 and 0.291, respectively.

Riaz Haq said...

China, Nepal, Indonesia and South Korea are among the ''top movers'' in the Human Development Index (HDI), while India joins the list of top 10 performers in income growth, says a report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), according to a UNI report:

However, the country ranks 119th in the non-income HDI and is way below China (89) and Sri Lanka (91), and also below its other neighbours Bangladesh (116) and Pakistan (112). The UNDP launched its 20th anniversary edition of Human Development Report 2010 'The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development' worldwide today. In India, the report was launched by UNDP Resident Representative and UN Coordinator Patrice Coeur-Bizot in the presence of Planning Commission member Syeda Hamid and Chief Economic Advisor, Union Ministry of Finance Kaushik Basu.

Among Asian countries, Nepal ranks second among top movers in non-income HDI while India is among top ten in GDP growth and is among the middle human development countries. The other nine Top Movers are China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Tunisia, South Korea, Algeria and Morocco.

An analysis of the 40-year trends shows that poor nations, including Nepal, were making 'faster development gains'.

There has been steady progress on the HDI over the past 20 years and India's HDI was above the average for countries in South Asia.

Its economic growth has been impressive, but inequality was on the rise and the report said there was 30 per cent loss in HDI value when adjusted against inequality, said Mr Coeur-Bizot.

Reacting to India's ranking in the report, Mr Basu said the country's goal was to improve overall human development and not just economic growth. However, he said, economic growth and rise in income levels were necessary for improving human development index, as for example, access to education and health services was linked with income level.

Ms Hamid in her remarks said more emphasis would be placed in democratisation of the five year plans and change introduced with the 11th Plan would be more visible in the 12th Plan. The 2010 Report introduces three new indices that measure the impact of inequality, gender disparities and multi-dimensional poverty.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a sobering assessment of the education crisis in Pakistan, as reported by the BBC:

The Pakistani government says the country is in the midst of an educational emergency with disastrous human and economic consequences.

A report by a government commission found that half of all Pakistani school children cannot read a sentence.

The commission found funding for schools has been cut from 2.5% of GDP in 2005 to just 1.5% - less than the national airline gets in subsidies.

It describes the education crisis as a self-inflicted disaster.

The report says 25 million children in Pakistan do not get primary education, a right guaranteed in the country's constitution.

Three million children will never in their lives attend a lesson.
'Crumbling infrastructure'

The report says that while rich parents send their children to private schools and later abroad to college or university, a third of all Pakistanis have spent less than two years at school.

"Millions of children are out of school, there is a crumbling infrastructure and education budgets are constantly shrinking but... the situation can be improved in a matter of years if there is a political will for change," the report says.

It says that at the current rate of progress Punjab province will provide all children with their constitutional right to education by 2041 while Balochistan province - the worst affected area - will not reach this goal until 2100.

The report says that only 6% of children in the country get their education in religious schools or madrassas.

The commission found that:

* 30,000 school buildings are so neglected that they are dangerous
* 21,000 schools do not have a school building at all
* Only half of all women in Pakistan can read, in rural areas the figure drops to one third
* There are 26 countries poorer than Pakistan who still manage to send more of their children to school
* Only 65% of schools have drinking water, 62% have latrines, 61% a boundary wall and 39% have electricity

The report said that Pakistan - in contrast to India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - has no chance of reaching the UN's Millennium Development Goals for education by 2015.

The findings also affect population growth - because educated women have smaller families with children who are healthier and more inclined to use their own education to nurture the next generation.

The report concludes that if the government doubled its present spending on education, significant progress could be made in just two years.

Riaz Haq said...

One of the measures of the goodness of a nation, particularly its middle class, is its level of civic engagement.

By this measure, advanced western nations lead the pack with the United States in #1 position, followed by Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Holland, Canada, and lo and behold! Sri Lanka.

In South Asia, Pakistan is a distant second to Sri Lanka's 51% participation rate. Pakistan's participation rate of 42% ranks it at 27, the same as Israel.

India lags far behind with the participation rate of only 28% ranking it at 48 among 130 nations, according to a recent Gallup poll on civic engagement that included 130 nations.

While 53% of Sri Lankans gave money to charity and 53% volunteered time, 51% of Pakistanis contributed money and 27% volunteered time. In India, 28% donated money and 18% volunteered time. Comparable figures for the top-ranking United States are 65% and 43%.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/145589/civic-engagement-highest-developed-countries.aspx#2

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a blog post about Qatar that speculates on OECD PISA scores of Qatari and immigrant students from India and Pakistan:

As I've noted before reforms in education will take a long time to bear fruit and it is important that those reforms include the earliest school years as that will impact the education of students in the later years. But what are the issues in Qatar's educational system? If you search my blog for PISA you'll find a few posts from last year that discuss the issue, one of which noting in detail some of the things I heard from both teachers and Qataris about how schooling works in the public sector, and it is definitely an eye-opener. That can't be the full story though. It was not only Qataris that were tested, students in the various private schools were also tested and Qatar has a large number of private schools: Indian curriculum, British curriculum, Pakistani curriculum American curriculum, French curriculum, even a Canadian school. I also don't think Qataris make up the majority of students in the country anymore given that Qataris only make up about 15% of the population, I speculate they are around 30% of the students due to the high birthrates amongst Qataris as well is the fact that many of the ex-pat workers do not have their families here. PISA likely tested students from all backgrounds.

Yet Qatar scored far lower than all of the OECD countries, and scored lower than other Arab nations such as Jordan and Tunisia. But if many of these kids went to private schools on Western curriculums one would have thought that at least a portion of the students would've scored around the levels of their home countries (unfortunately India, Pakistan, and major Arab countries like Egypt didn't participate in the PISA study so we have no idea how well those curriculums would do). This would imply that the public school students would've on average scored even lower than the Qatar average would suggest. While I have no data to back it up I can't believe that would be true -- Qatar public schools would have to be some of the worst on the planet for that to be right! The schools may have a number of issues based on what I've been told but I have met many Qataris and their education is certainly not that bad.

Anonymous said...

Some good articles there, Riaz. I really think that low-IQ (on average) South Asian countries would be better served if their education systems were geared toward producing skilled manpower for the manufacturing sector. India, ambitiously and foolishly, plans on increasing college enrollment to 30% - a ludicrous proposition which would make an Indian college degree more worthless than it currently is. Charles Murray, possibly the most thoughtful Sociologist in the US right now, believes that only 10% of the US population is capable of doing justice to college education. I'm guessing the corresponding figure for India/Pakistan is 1-2%. His remedies are worth watching:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8GN8g0Si7Q

Riaz Haq said...

British Prime Minister David Cameron, now on a visit to Pakistan, has offered about $1 billion in aid for education, according to Financial Times:

Please respect FT.com's ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cc68ce4c-5f91-11e0-bd1b-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1IfKt9DJ6

David Cameron offered Pakistan’s leaders up to £650m ($1,055m) of aid for schools and heaped praise on their “huge fight” against terrorism in a diplomatic gamble to end years of mutual mistrust with a gesture of goodwill.

During a confidence-building visit to Islamabad with an entourage of his most senior security advisers, Mr Cameron jettisoned the usual list of UK demands and instead gave Pakistan the benefit of the doubt over Afghanistan and its support for militant groups.

Please respect FT.com's ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cc68ce4c-5f91-11e0-bd1b-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1IfLC3dkM

Such optimism over Islamabad’s intentions marks a big break in British diplomacy, making a stark contrast with Mr Cameron’s description of Pakistan “looking both ways” on terrorism, a remark that triggered a serious diplomatic incident last year.

Rather than regarding Pakistan as a country that “can do more”, particularly on curbing Taliban activities, the British assumption is now that Islamabad’s security agencies have limited control over militant groups they once helped to create.

The big test for Mr Cameron is whether his expression of trust can generate better results than the more transactional approach adopted in the past. British officials say they are already seeing tangible improvements in intelligence co-operation and a greater willingness to discuss a political peace deal in Afghanistan.

Mr Cameron sought to demonstrate the breadth of the new partnership by offering funds for up to 4m school places by 2015. “I struggle to find a country that’s more in our interest to progress and succeed than Pakistan,” Mr Cameron said after a meeting with Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s prime minister.

“If Pakistan succeeds then we will have a good story ... if it fails we will have all the problems of migration and extremism, all the problems.”

The package of up to £650m, which more than doubles previous education funding, forms part of an aid programme that is set to become Britain’s biggest.
----------
The centrepiece of Mr Cameron’s visit was a security round-table with Pakistan’s civilian leadership and General Ashfaq Kayani, its military chief. Sir John Sawers, head of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, and General Sir David Richards, chief of the defence staff, also attended, in their second visit to Islamabad in less than a month.

Mr Gilani later brushed aside questions over Pakistan’s willingness to combat terrorism. “We’ve the ability and we have the resolve and we are fighting and we’ve paid a very heavy price for that,” he said, citing the 30,000 casualties in Pakistan’s effort to quell an internal insurgency.

One senior Pakistani government official speaking after Mr Cameron’s meetings said closer security ties would take some more time to develop. “Clearly, the UK wants Pakistan to extend help to combat militant plots on British soil,” he said. “But the UK will also need to be much more forthcoming on helping Pakistan to go after members of its own militant groups from places like Baluchistan who have taken refuge in Britain.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story titled "India Graduates Millions, But Too Few Are Fit to Hire":

BANGALORE, India—Call-center company 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd. is desperate to find new recruits who can answer questions by phone and email. It wants to hire 3,000 people this year. Yet in this country of 1.2 billion people, that is beginning to look like an impossible goal.

So few of the high school and college graduates who come through the door can communicate effectively in English, and so many lack a grasp of educational basics such as reading comprehension, that the company can hire just three out of every 100 applicants.

India projects an image of a nation churning out hundreds of thousands of students every year who are well educated, a looming threat to the better-paid middle-class workers of the West. Their abilities in math have been cited by President Barack Obama as a reason why the U.S. is facing competitive challenges.

Yet 24/7 Customer's experience tells a very different story. Its increasing difficulty finding competent employees in India has forced the company to expand its search to the Philippines and Nicaragua. Most of its 8,000 employees are now based outside of India.

In the nation that made offshoring a household word, 24/7 finds itself so short of talent that it is having to offshore.

"With India's population size, it should be so much easier to find employees," says S. Nagarajan, founder of the company. "Instead, we're scouring every nook and cranny."

India's economic expansion was supposed to create opportunities for millions to rise out of poverty, get an education and land good jobs. But as India liberalized its economy starting in 1991 after decades of socialism, it failed to reform its heavily regulated education system.

Business executives say schools are hampered by overbearing bureaucracy and a focus on rote learning rather than critical thinking and comprehension. Government keeps tuition low, which makes schools accessible to more students, but also keeps teacher salaries and budgets low. What's more, say educators and business leaders, the curriculum in most places is outdated and disconnected from the real world.

"If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys," says Vijay Thadani, chief executive of New Delhi-based NIIT Ltd. India, a recruitment firm that also runs job-training programs for college graduates lacking the skills to land good jobs.

Muddying the picture is that on the surface, India appears to have met the demand for more educated workers with a quantum leap in graduates. Engineering colleges in India now have seats for 1.5 million students, nearly four times the 390,000 available in 2000, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, a trade group.

But 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates are unemployable by India's high-growth global industries, including information technology and call centers, according to results from assessment tests administered by the group.

Another survey, conducted annually by Pratham, a nongovernmental organization that aims to improve education for the poor, looked at grade-school performance at 13,000 schools across India. It found that about half of the country's fifth graders can't read at a second-grade level.

Riaz Haq said...

Sesame Street is launching an adaptation of its children's tv show produced in Urdu for Pakistani audience, according to the Guardian newspaper.

There's no Cookie Monster, no Big Bird and no Count von Count.

But Pakistani children will soon start experiencing what millions in the west have done for more than four decades – the joys of Sesame Street.

In a $20m (£12m) remake of the classic American children's programme, the setting for the show has moved from the streets of New York to a lively village in Pakistan with a roadside tea and snacks stall, known as a dhaba, some fancy houses with overhanging balconies along with simple dwellings, and residents hanging out on their verandas.

The Pakistani version, in which characters will speak mostly in Urdu, will feature Rani, a cute six-year-old Muppet, the child of a peasant farmer, with pigtails, flowers in her hair and a smart blue-and-white school uniform. Her curiosity and questions about the world will, it is hoped, make her a role model for Pakistani children.


Sesame Street International already co-produces 18 localized version, including those in Bangladesh and India, and reaches millions of children in 120 nations around the world.

Riaz Haq said...

UN World Food Program's initiative to provide free food and cooking oil to school children is persuading poor families to send their daughters to school in Pakistan, according to a news report:

The program has already noted success in a 62% increase in girls' attendance in the last decade.

"This is really a big help. In these times when things are so expensive, receiving [cooking] oil free of charge is a real bonus," Fareeda Bibi mentioned while placing the four-litre fortified oil tin by her tiny stove.

A tin of oil costs Rs 450 [US$5.5], and Fareeda needs at least three a month to cook for her family of eight.

"My husband earns Rs 5,000 [$61] a month as a carpenter, so our budget is tight. Over Rs 1,000 [$12.2] goes towards utility bills; we spend nearly 2,500 [$30.5] on food and then there are new shoes to be bought for the children or medical bills to pay for my parents-in-law. Every little bit that comes in free in such hard times is a bonus."

Fareeda's daughter Shama receives the oil at her school in Dera Ghazi Khan District in Pakistan's Punjab Province every month as part of a UN World Food Programme (WFP) operation run in conjunction with the government.

"The incentive is mainly to increase enrolment and keep the girls in school. The assistance is only given in girls' primary schools in Punjab. However, in NWFP [North West Frontier Province], Balochistan and Sindh, we have included boys as well," said Amjad Jamal, a WFP spokesman.

The programme had increased girls' enrolment by 25% and attendance by 62%
since 1998, said Marcelo Spinahering of WFP Pakistan. "Children are given high energy biscuits for onsite feeding in certain parts of the country. For the most part they receive take-home rations of four litres of fortified edible oil on a monthly basis and 50kg of wheat on a quarterly basis," he added.

Attitudes changing?

Fareeda said the school feeding programme had also played a part in persuading male members of her family to allow Shama to go to school, just like her two brothers.

"When they say there is no need to educate girls because they will never need to earn a living, I point out the oil we receive helps us run the house, and then they fall silent," Fareeda said, adding: "Of course it is very important to us that our daughter is being educated. I am not literate and this handicaps me."

Noor Bibi, the mother of another young schoolgirl said: "Even though we pay no fees at government schools, my husband says we spend too much on uniforms and books." The oil bonus helps 'balance' this, and she hopes to double the gains in a few years time when her two-year-old daughter is enrolled.

Fozia Hina, deputy district officer for Dera Ghazi Khan sub-district, said: "In areas such as ours, which is largely underdeveloped, parents do not like sending girls out of the house, even to school. Traditionally girls do not leave the home of their parents or husbands. Since the [cooking] oil incentive began several years ago more parents are eager to enrol kids. Mothers are keen to enrol even four-year-old girls."...


http://southasia.oneworld.net/todaysheadlines/pakistantake-home-rations-brings-girls-to-schools

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an opinion piece by Rakesh Mani published in the Wall Street Journal:

Much has been spoken and written of India’s “demographic dividend.” With almost 40% of the population – around 500 million people – under the age of 15, it is estimated that around 25% of the global workforce will be Indian by 2030. What this means is that the quality of education that young Indian children are receiving today is going to impact us all in the near future.
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1. Commit to spending more on education. Way back in 1968, the Kothari Commission recommended that India spend 6% of its Gross Domestic Product on education. However, in the 43 years since, India’s total educational outlays have never exceeded 4.3% of its GDP in any given year. Setting aside more funds for education is a critical first step that will demonstrate the government’s commitment to educational reform.

2. Fix primary education first. There are two major tasks here: raising enrollment to 100% in urban as well as rural areas; and then minimizing drop-outs. Both need to work in tandem to be meaningful. In Mumbai, for instance, enrollment rates are very high – above 95% — but only a fraction of these students actually finish school due to absurdly high drop-out rates. In addition, eliminating gender gaps at this early stage must be a priority. Shockingly, in some rural areas, thousands of young girls do not attend school because there are no separate toilets for them. Other girls do not attend because the walk to school – often in a neighboring village – is unsafe.

3. Yes, the answer is building more schools with better infrastructure. But even as the government and private institutions are building more schools, the quality of instruction is falling sharply. Teacher training needs a great deal of work and effort. Here, it is heartening to see the number of NGOs that are rushing to fill this gap but most of these efforts are still confined to urban areas, and especially large metropolitan cities. We need high-quality instruction to produce high-quality students capable of playing active roles in a rapidly growing country.

4. Prioritize schooling over higher education. In the early 50s, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, decided to build out India’s higher education platform to compete technologically in the Cold War era. Under his direction, institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology were expanded and the country focused on producing more engineers and scientists. But the expansion of higher education was accompanied by a neglect of school education. This continues today, with new engineering colleges mushrooming every day. Schools are often viewed as little more than a means to gain access to a solid engineering program. This remarkable trend has had far-reaching effects.
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Make no mistake: we are in the midst of a severe education crisis. And it is for this reason that we need to be talking about the subject more and encouraging debate. Because let us be sure that, without a significant change in mindset, education reform is a non-starter and the “demographic dividend” will just remain a fancy term confined to political journals.


http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/07/26/india-journal-can-india-reap-an-education-dividend/

Riaz Haq said...

Results of PISA international test released by OECD in Dec, 2011, show that Indian students came in at the bottom of the list along with students from Kyrgyzstan:

Students in Tamil Nadu-India attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale that is significantly higher than those for Himachal Pradesh-India and Kyrgyzstan, but lower than all other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
In Tamil Nadu-India, 17% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This means that 83% of students in Tamil Nadu-India are estimated to be below this baseline level. This compares to 81% of student performing at or above the baseline level in reading in the OECD countries, on average.
Students in the Tamil Nadu-India attained a mean score on the PISA mathematical literacy scale as the same observed in Himachal Pradesh-India, Panama and Peru. This was significantly higher than the mean observed in Kyrgyzstan but lower than those of other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
In Tamil Nadu-India, 15% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
Students in Tamil Nadu-India were estimated to have a mean score on the scientific literacy scale, which is below the means of all OECD countries, but significantly above the mean observed in the other Indian state, Himachal Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu-India, 16% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.


http://www.acer.edu.au/media/acer-releases-results-of-pisa-2009-participant-economies/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a piece by Lan Pritchett of Harvard University on India's poor performance on PISA:

Compared to the economic superstars India is almost unfathomably far behind. The TN/HP average 15 year old is over 200 points behind. If a typical grade gain is 40 points a year Indian eighth graders are at the level of Korea third graders in their mathematics mastery. In fact the average TN/HP child is 40 to 50 points behind the worst students in the economic superstars. Equally worrisome is that the best performers in TN/HP - the top 5 percent who India will need in science and technology to complete globally - were almost 100 points behind the average child in Singapore and 83 points behind the average Korean - and a staggering 250 points behind the best in the best.

As the current superpowers are behind the East Asian economic superstars in learning performance the distance to India is not quite as far, but still the average TN/HP child is right at the level of the worst OECD or American students (only 1.5 or 7.5 points ahead). Indians often deride America's schools but the average child placed in an American school would be among the weakest students. Indians might have believed, with President Obama, that American schools were under threat from India but the best TN/HP students are 24 points behind the average American 15 year old.

Even among other "developing" nations that make up the BRICs India lags - from Russia by almost as much as the USA and only for Brazil, which like the rest of Latin America is infamous for lagging education performance does India even come close - and then not even that close.

To put these results in perspective, in the USA there has been huge and continuous concern that has caused seismic shifts in the discourse about education driven, in part, by the fact that the USA is lagging the economic superstars like Korea. But the average US 15 year old is 59 points behind Koreans. TN/HP students are 41.5 points behind Brazil, and twice as far behind Russia (123.5 points) as the US is Korea, and almost four times further behind Singapore (217.5 vs 59) that the US is behind Korea. Yet so far this disastrous performance has yet to occasion a ripple in the education establishment.
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These PISA 2009+ results are the end of the beginning. The debate is over. No one can still deny there is a deep crisis in the ability of the existing education system to produce child learning. India's education system is undermining India's legitimate aspirations to be at the global forefront as a prosperous economy, as a global great power, as an emulated polity, and as a fair and just society. As the beginning ends, the question now is: what is to be done?


http://ajayshahblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/first-pisa-results-for-india-end-of.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on community service requirement at elite schools in Pakistan:

The Social Service Society of Foundation Public School’s (FPS) A-Level campus is working on making this kind of work mandatory for all A-Level schools in the city.

According to Muneer Iqbal, the chairperson of the society, he and his peers are already in touch with students from other schools to push for this demand. Meanwhile, the school’s society plans to publicise the cause at events in different schools. “As youngsters, we should contribute to the society by helping those who are in need,” Iqbal said.

At the FPS A-Levels campus, all of the 120 first-year students have to do mandatory community service of 30 hours to be able to pass to the second year. They are free to choose what kind of work they want to do.

They can, for example, teach at government schools, tend to the elderly at shelter homes, or spend time with the mentally or physically challenged or those suffering from life-threatening diseases.

“Community service is greatly needed at government schools because they are in a deplorable state,” said Iqbal. “If educated people like us step forward, we can make a huge difference.”

Another student, Hamza Masood, also at FPS, believes that community service also gives students applying to universities abroad an edge. “Foreign universities prefer students who have done social service,” he said. “Even the top universities in Pakistan, like the Lahore University of Management Sciences, give credit to social service.”

But Masood does not do charity work because it will get him admission to a foreign university. According to him, at the end of the day it is satisfaction that one gets from helping the people that matters.

“I went to Dar ul Sukoon five months after I did community service there,” he said. “I was delighted when two children recognised me and called me by my name. They made me realise that our visits meant a lot to them.”

It seemed like students of other A-Level schools feel the same way. Saba Basit, who studies at Nixor College, believes that students should be made aware of how important serving the community was.

“Community service should be made mandatory but students should know what they are doing is important for the community rather than it being imposed upon them,” said Basit. “Social service does not only mean going to hospitals or old homes. It means that we can also help others in our neighborhoods as well.”....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/323138/small-ideas-big-impact-foundation-public-school-wants-mandatory-charity-at-a-levels/#comment-520994

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune Op Ed on Anglo-centric textbooks in some Pakistani schools:

The other day my son, a class five student in one of the most sought-after schools in Karachi, came to me for help in a school project. Having read on several parenting websites that I should be participating in my son’s scholastic life, I eagerly agreed. The project was on famous explorers, and given that I’m my nuclear family’s resident amateur historian, my interest was piqued. He obediently rattled off the list of the explorers he had to pick from: Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, Magellan and so on. “What about Ibn-e-Batuta?” I asked “Who?” he replied. “Ibn-e-Batuta,” I pressed on. “You know, the guy who actually covered more ground than Marco polo? That Ibn-e-Batuta. He also happened to be a Berber and a Muslim.”

“Oh”, he said, probably ruing the moment he asked for my help, ‘no, he’s not on the list.’

Since then, I related this story to a few people, and the most common response was: Ibn-e-Batuta? Isn’t that the mall in Dubai? A couple of my more Bollywood inclined friends remembered his name as the title for a song in the Naseeruddin Shah movie Ishqiya.

Ironically, if you Googled anything at all a few weeks back, you’d have seen that even Google, that infamous tool of Zionist oppression, celebrated his 707th birthday with a doodle commemorating his travels. And why not? After all, this is a man who went all the way from Morocco in the West to China in the East. He travelled to the Byzantine Empire, Spain and the steppes of the golden horde in the north to Somalia in the south. He even got to Sindh, where he famously encountered a rhino before getting as far as Chittagong. That effectively means that he covered more ground than anyone else until the invention of the steam engine, some 450 years later. Sadly, if you went to one of Pakistan’s elite schools, chances are you’ve never even heard of him. Worse, you may have grown up thinking that everything of value in human history came from Europe. Except for paper of course; that’s Chinese.

I don’t blame my son, or any of the similarly schooled people I spoke to. I went to the same school and, by the time I finished my O-levels, I could have told you how many wives Henry VIII had, and what Marie Antoinette’s famous (almost) last words were, but I couldn’t have told you who Timurlane was (is that the next street over from Park Lane?), and I certainly couldn’t tell a Khwarezm-shah from a Shahenshah (you know, the Amitabh movie where he has his arm wrapped in chain mail). I knew Machiavelli and Napoleon, but not Kautiliya and Sun Tzu.

I don’t even blame the schools. The only usable and attractive textbooks are understandably Anglo-centric. The East appears on the periphery, and when it does, it is always through the eyes of the discoverers. All of whom are, of course, dead white males. Our poor little subcontinent appears as a footnote in the conquests of Alexander, or as the land the search for which inadvertently lead to the decimation of the Native Americans.

It wasn’t until the advent of Pakistan Studies that this part of the world made a poorly-written, and even more poorly-edited, appearance. We met the whitewashed and utterly neutered versions of Muhammad Bin Qasim (who, by the way, was absolutely not tortured to death by the Caliph) and Mahmud of Ghazni (who was absolutely not in it for the loot)...


http://tribune.com.pk/story/342988/so-who-was-ibn-e-batuta/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story of WFP program take-home rations for school girls in Bajaur agency in FATA:

Taking turns to lug a heavy can of edible oil, Mushtari and Sheema Gul, twin sisters aged nine, trip home happily from their school in Ghareebabad village in Pakistan’s troubled Bajaur Agency.

“Our kitchen is run on this oil,” explains Sheema. The shiny cans are distributed in her school under World Food Programme (WFP)’s ‘Back to school, stay in school’ project launched as people began streaming back to the Bajaur after the Pakistan army completed flushing out Taliban militants from the agency in April 2011.

“Last year, as people displaced by the fighting began returning, we entered into an agreement with the WFP to launch the project,” Akramullah Shah, an official of Bajaur Agency’s education department, tells IPS.

From 2007 to 2009, when the Taliban held sway over Bajaur Agency, about 100,000 people fled for safety to makeshift camps. “During that period Taliban militants destroyed 107 schools and disrupted education services, affecting about 80,000 students,” Shah said.

With much of Bajaur’s infrastructure reduced to rubble and the mainstay of agriculture ruined, the returning residents had little to look forward to and were reluctant to take on the added burden of sending their children to school.

Ghufran Gul, father of Mushtari and Sheema, said he would not have been able to send his daughters to school but for the WFP programme of distributing edible oil and fortified biscuits. “The oil is tasty and people like to use it for making rotis (unleavened bread),” he said.

“We are happy. We sisters get the biscuits while the oil is used by the entire family,” said the Gul twins who study in grade three of the government girls’ high school in Bajaur.
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“As soon as the Pakistan army had defeated the militants, we started reconstruction of damaged schools and launched programmes to encourage the students to return, ” Bajaur Agency lawmaker Akhunzada Muhammad Chittan told IPS.

According to Chittan, enrolment at the government-run primary schools had increased from 102,922 in 2010 to 1,320,876 by the end of June this year and was to improve further.

“Apart from providing free books and food items, relief organisations other than the WFP have been pitching in with purchased uniforms, shoes and teaching kits that are powerful incentives for parents to send their children to schools,” he said.

According to the 2008 census the literacy rate among the FATA’s 3.2 million population is just 22 percent, well below the national average of 56 percent.

A brief setback to the food distribution programme occurred in December 2010 when a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a WFP centre in the Bajaur, killing 45 people and injuring 80 others.

WFP spokesperson Amjad Jamal said the food assistance programme was due to run until the end of this year, but the U.N. agency has proposed that it should be allowed to continue until 2015.

“The main objectives of the programme are to protect children from hunger and motivate the parents to send their children back to schools to resume their education,” he said.

Except for the North Waziristan Agency, the WFP programme now covers the whole of the FATA and parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhthunkwa provinces.


http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/07/pouring-edible-oil-on-pakistans-troubled-areas/