Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pak Girl's Journey: Karachi Slum to Harvard Business School

Anum Fatima, a resident of Ibrahim Goth slum located near Karachi's Steel Town, is making history; she is going to Harvard  Business School this summer as part of a student exchange program.

Anum's father is employed as a driver and her mother works as a maid. The slum school she attended is run by The Citizen's Foundation (TCF), a private foundation. From 5 schools in Karachi in 1995, TCF has expanded to 910 purpose-built schools with 126,000 students in 97 towns and cities across Pakistan.

Institute of Business Management (IoBM) Karachi

After graduating from the TCF school located near her slum, Fatima has completed her BBA in Human Resource. She is currently attending College of Business Management (CBM) of  the Institute of Business Management (IoBM), a private Business School in Karachi.

Anum is breaking many stereotypes about Pakistani women, particularly poor women, by studying business management at top business schools in Pakistan and the United States. She told a news reporter that when she broke the news to her father, he did not know what Harvard was. “When he went to work that day, he asked his boss, who told him what a tremendous achievement it was,” she said.

Although it's the first time that a TCF grad is going to Harvard, the Foundation schools have had many success stories of its graduates from poor families who have gone on to attend professional schools to become doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers and business executives.

In spite of its many failings in adequately funding human development, Pakistan has continued to offer much greater upward economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India over the last two decades. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report titled "Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present And Future.

New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise described the rise of Pakistan's middle class in a story from Pakistani town of Muzaffargarh in the following words:

For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power.
Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”

GeoTV is illustrating  this welcome phenomenon of upward social mobility in Pakistan with a series of motivational "Zara  Sochiey" videos on young men and women who have risen from humble origins to achieve significant successes in recent years. Each individual portrayed in the series has overcome adversity and  focused on acquiring education as a ticket to improve his or her economic and social situation.

GeoTV videos feature a number of young men and women, including Saima Bilal, Kashif Faiq,  Qaisar Abbas and many others, to inspire and encourage other Pakistanis to pursue their dreams against all odds.

Contrary to the incessant talk of doom and gloom, the fact is that the level of educational attainment has been rising in recent decades.  In fact, Pakistan has been increasing enrollment of students in schools at a faster rate since 1990 than India, according to data compiled and reported by Harvard University researchers Robert Barro and Jhong-Wa Lee . In 1990, there were 66.2% of Pakistanis vs 51.6% of Indians in 15+ age group who had had no schooling. In 2000, there were 60.2% Pakistanis vs 43% Indians with no schooling. In 2010, Pakistan reduced it to 38% vs India's 32.7%.

As of 2010, there are 380 (vs 327 Indians) out of every 1000 Pakistanis age 15 and above who have never had any formal schooling. Of the remaining 620 (vs 673 Indians) who enrolled in school, 22 (vs 20 Indians) dropped out before finishing primary school, and the remaining 598 (vs 653 Indians) completed it. There are 401 (vs 465 Indians) out of every 1000 Pakistanis who made it to secondary school. 290 (vs 69 Indians) completed secondary school  while 111 (vs. 394 Indians) dropped out. Only 55 (vs 58 Indians)  made it to college out of which 39 (vs 31 Indians) graduated with a degree.

Education and development efforts  are beginning to bear fruit even in remote areas of Pakistan, including Federally Administered Tribal AreasThe Guardian newspaper recently reported that FATA's Bajaur agency alone has 616 school with over 60,000 boys and girls receiving take-home rations. Two new university campuses have been approved for FATA region and thousands of kilometers of new roads are being constructed. After a recent visit to FATA, Indian journalist Hindol Sengupta wrote in The Hindu newspaper that "even Bajaur has a higher road density than India"

 Prior to significant boost in public spending on education during Musharraf years, the number of private schools in Pakistan grew 10 fold from about 3000 in 1983 to over 30,000 in 2000. Primary school enrollment in 1983 has increased 937%, far greater than the 57% population increase in the last two decades.

With current public education funding at just 2% of GDP, the Pakistani government is clearly abdicating its responsibility of educating poor children. Fortunately, there are a number of highly committed individuals and organizations like The Citizens Foundation (TCF) and the Human Development Foundation (HDF) which are very active in raising funds and building and operating schools to improve the situation in Pakistan. It is important that all of us who care for the future of Pakistan should generously help these and similar other organizations.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Must Fix Primary Education

Pakistan Human Development Since 1980s

Working Women in Pakistan

Pakistan's Out-of-School Children 

Pakistan's Human Capital

Status of Women in Pakistan

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Teach For Pakistan

Business Education in Pakistan

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers


Mike Z. said...

A Spirit elevating news, thanks for sharing it Riaz Haq Sahib.

Faraz said...

This is something to be proud of because
1. Anum Fatima.

2. TCF that provided her platform

Idiot religious extremists and corrupt leaders are barrier/cancer in the growth of Pakistan but Anum Fatima and TCF are real assets of Pakistan.

Ram said...

even as an Indian I feel that this is a spirit elevating news which shows human endeavor has no limits.

Now let us hope pakistan's superior school enrolling translates into Pakistan growing a knowledge based economy to compete with India, or a manufacturing industry to compete with India. Otherwise what is the use of education.

Zaheer said...

This is a tremendous achievement. Thanks for consistently reminding us of the many positive things that happen in Pakistan. Your observations are really welcome, backed as they are by statistics and actual data.

Imran Qureshi said...

Last month I had the opportunity to visit a TCF school in Karachi. Although its located along the banks of a Sewage river, the students, teachers and the staff were no less motivated than any other school in the world. The day I visited the school, a local company was conducting a entrepreneurial seminar. When we visited the classroom, the excitement was obviously about winning the first position but the 6 teams were more interested telling us about their ideas and why their idea should be the winner. The enthusiasm and confidence was really something to witness. The winning team would have easily competed at any global stage. Considering where these students come from, the things they are doing can easily be compared to a private school in Karachi. Obviously there are challenges but with ample exposure these children can do wonders just like what Anum did.

Please continue to support the TCF schools and build the next generation of Pakistan …

Roy said...

Whats the connection between the girl getting a scholarship and rising middle class?

Riaz Haq said...

Roy: "Whats the connection between the girl getting a scholarship and rising middle class?"

I guess it's too hard for you to understand that education is the ticket for the poor slum dwellers to move up to the middle class.

There are many benefits of rural to urban migration for migrants' lives, including reduction in abject poverty, empowerment of women, increased access to healthcare and education and other services. Historically, cities have been driving forces in economic and social development. As centers of industry and commerce, cities have long been centers of wealth and power. They also account for a disproportionate share of national income. The World Bank estimates that in the developing world, as much as 80 percent of future economic growth will occur in towns and cities. Nor are the benefits of urbanization solely economic. Urbanization is associated with higher incomes, improved health, higher literacy, and improved quality of life. Other benefits of urban life are less tangible but no less real: access to information, diversity, creativity, and innovation.

Aamir Malik said...

Mr. Haq
Frankly I did not know about the progress these institutions are making in Pakistan. Because the usual news from Pakistan is negative. Thank you for putting a professional report together.
But I don't think we should compare our self with India, due to a major difference in the social structure. Pakistan is a nation in building, while they are a little over bloated with their size.

Hamid said...

In a country of 180+ million there is should be no resting easy because one girl made it. There are countless millions who do not get even 10% of opportunity that this wonderful child got.

Good news is great but let us not get blinded by it and ignore poor children suffering due to poor governance violence and militancy!!

TCF-USA Silicon Valley said...

It gives us great pride to share with you the success of two former TCF students who have received scholarships to attend premier universities in the US this year.

Anum Fatima completed her matriculation studies at the TCF school in Yousuf Goth. Her stellar results at the intermediate level led to admission at the College of Business Management where she completed her BBA degree in. She secured admission to the MBA program at the Institute of Business Management (IoBM). She was then accepted to the 2013 US Sisters Summer Exchange Program supported by the US Pakistan Women's Council, whereby she has received a scholarship to attend the Harvard Business School during the summer semester. Anum hails from humble origins and is the eldest of five siblings. Her father works as a chauffeur, earning a modest salary of $100 a month.

Nadeem Hussain joined the TCF school at Ibrahim Goth in the 4th grade. When it came time for his matriculation exam, Nadeem was the highest scorer among the regional TCF schools. Nadeem gained admission at the Institute of Business Administration, one of the leading universities in Pakistan, through the competitive National Talent Hunt Program. He is currently in the 3rd year of his Bachelors in Computer Science degree and has been selected for the "Study of the United States Institute for Student Leaders on Comparative Public Policy - 2013 Program" (USEFP). He will attend the program at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute Civic Initiative in Amherst, Massachusetts. Nadeem's father works at a factory producing wires and earns a nominal wage of between $150 to $200 every month. He is the second of 5 siblings, all of whom have completed their matriculate from TCF.

For a typical TCF student who comes from an economically challenged background, to be able to attend a premier university in the US is nothing short of a miracle. It is the care and support of people like you that makes such miracles possible.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' report on a newly-inducted female fighter pilot in Pak Air Force:

With an olive green head scarf poking out from her helmet, Ayesha Farooq flashes a cheeky grin when asked if it is lonely being the only war-ready female fighter pilot in the Islamic republic of Pakistan.

Farooq, from Punjab province's historic city of Bahawalpur, is one of 19 women who have become pilots in the Pakistan Air Force over the last decade - there are five other female fighter pilots, but they have yet to take the final tests to qualify for combat.

"I don't feel any different. We do the same activities, the same precision bombing," the soft-spoken 26-year-old said of her male colleagues at Mushaf base in north Pakistan, where neatly piled warheads sit in sweltering 50 degree Celsius heat (122 F).

A growing number of women have joined Pakistan's defence forces in recent years as attitudes towards women change.

"Because of terrorism and our geographical location it's very important that we stay on our toes," said Farooq, referring to Taliban militancy and a sharp rise in sectarian violence.

Deteriorating security in neighbouring Afghanistan, where U.S.-led troops are preparing to leave by the end of next year, and an uneasy relationship with arch rival India to the east add to the mix.

Farooq, whose slim frame offers a study in contrast with her burly male colleagues, was at loggerheads with her widowed and uneducated mother seven years ago when she said she wanted to join the air force.

"In our society most girls don't even think about doing such things as flying an aircraft," she said.

Family pressure against the traditionally male domain of the armed forces dissuaded other women from taking the next step to become combat ready, air force officials said. They fly slower aircraft instead, ferrying troops and equipment around the nuclear-armed country of 180 million.


Centuries-old rule in the tribal belt area along the border with Afghanistan, where rape, mutilation and the killing of women are ordered to mete out justice, underlines conservative Pakistan's failures in protecting women's rights.

But women are becoming more aware of those rights and signing up with the air force is about as empowering as it gets.

"More and more ladies are joining now," said Nasim Abbas, Wing Commander of Squadron 20, made up of 25 pilots, including Farooq, who fly Chinese-made F-7PG fighter jets....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Atlantic Magazine story on Pakistanis taking MOOCs at MIT:

It's more than 11,000 kilometers from Shakargarh, a city in northeastern Pakistan, to the venerated halls of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the top universities in the United States.

Twenty-five-year-old Khalid Raza lives in Shakargarh but is taking "The Challenges of Global Poverty," a course taught by a former adviser to the World Bank and a professor of international economics at MIT.

Recently, while on the bus, he pulled out his laptop and submitted one of his first assignments.

"It was an amazing experience when I was submitting my assignment," he said. "I was traveling and my friend was sitting with me. When I submitted my assignment, after some time he asked me a question, 'What are you doing?' So I told him the whole story, that I am taking a course from the U.S.A. He was so surprised and shocked."

The experience -- something Raza says he never thought would be possible -- doesn't cost him a single rupee. All he needed was the interest and an Internet connection to reserve his seat in a virtual MIT classroom.

Raza is one of the several million learners worldwide to have discovered "massive open online courses," or MOOCs. While a number of universities attempted to introduce free online courses in the early 2000s, MOOCs have only begun to catch fire in the last year. Today, the silly-sounding acronym has become a buzz word, and is one of the hottest topics in education.

A group of U.S. education technology startups, in partnership with dozens of top U.S. universities, now offers MOOCs on everything from poetry to physics. Course platforms feature lecture videos, other multimedia content, embedded quizzes, discussion boards, and online study groups. Essays and other projects less suited to automated grading are reviewed by classmates based on rubrics. Interaction with professors and teaching assistants is rare. Completing a course earns you a certificate, and several U.S. schools have begun to accept MOOCs for credit.

The startups' founders say their goals are at once practical and humanistic -- an effort to overcome rising education costs and a shortage of resources and make top-quality learning accessible to the masses.

Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor, is the president of edX, a nonprofit collaboration between his university and Harvard University that currently offers more than 60 MOOCs.

He believes his and similar projects are nothing short of transformative.

"I think education is not going to be the same ever again," Agarwal says. "I really describe this technology and MOOCs as the biggest revolution in education since the printing press -- and that happened 500 years ago."...

Riaz Haq said...

Malala inspires girls school enrollment surge in KP, reports Bloomberg:

MINGORA, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban's attempts to deter girls from seeking an education, epitomized by the shooting of 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the face last year, are backfiring as school enrollments surge in her home region.

While Yousafzai missed out last week on the Nobel Peace Prize, her plight is helping change attitudes in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which lies at the center of a Taliban insurgency. The four-month-old provincial government boosted education spending by about 30 percent and began an enrollment drive that has added 200,000 children, including 75,000 girls.

Yousafzai's story "is certainly helping us to promote education in the tribal belt," Muhammad Atif Khan, the province's education minister, said by phone. "Education is a matter of death and life. We can't solve terrorism issues without educating people."

Taliban militants targeted Yousafzai in retaliation over her campaign for girls to be given equal rights to schooling in a country where only 40 percent of adult women can read and write. Though the Nobel award went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Yousafzai was showered with accolades in a week in which she published her memoir: she won the European Union's top human rights prize and met President Barack Obama at the Oval Office.

The shooting occurred a year ago as Yousafzai traveled home on a school bus in Mingora, a trading hub of 1.8 million people where a majority of women still cover their faces and girls aren't comfortable answering questions from reporters. The bullet struck above her left eye, grazing her brain. She was flown for emergency surgery to Britain, where she lives today.

The increased media attention on Swat since the shooting is pressuring government officials to improve educational standards and encouraging locals to send their kids to school.

Three days ago in Mingora, as local channels flashed the news that Yousafzai didn't win the peace prize, high school student Shehzad Qamar credited her for prompting the government to build more institutions of higher learning.

"She has done what we couldn't have achieved in 100 years," Qamar said. "She gave this town an identity."..
"Taliban wanted to silence me," Yousafzai said in an interview with the BBC last week. "Malala was heard only in Pakistan, but now she is heard at the every corner of the world."

Sadiqa Ameen, a 15-year-old school girl in Swat, said she wanted to read Yousafzai's book, titled "I am Malala." The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, has threatened to kill Yousafzai and target shops selling her book, the Dawn newspaper reported, citing spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.

"This is probably the first ever book written by a Swati girl," said Ameen, who lives near Yousafzai's school. "I am sure her story will be something we all know and have gone through during the Taliban rule."

Musfira Khan Karim, 11, prayed for Yousafzai's success in the Nobel competition with her 400 schoolmates in Mingora.

"I want her back here among us," Karim said in her school's playground. "I want to know more about her. I want to meet her."

Riaz Haq said...

From The News:

After finishing school, she received a scholarship to attend the Institute of Business Management (IoBM), first for her Bachelor’s and then her Master’s. And when she applied for a US State Department programme for women, she was selected for spending three months at the Harvard University.

“It was an advanced learning programme for English. There were 15 students from all over the world. I topped my class and received a certificate, and a book signed by the Dean,” she said.

The three-month long trip to the US opened new avenues for her. She met a classmate of Benazir Bhutto, she spoke at the state department and interned at a US-based think tank.

“People in the West think that girls in Pakistan are not allowed to study. In all of the presentations I made and all the people I talked to, I told them that parents wanted their girls to study, but it was the lack of resources and awareness that held them back.”

They were also interested about knowing the state of education in Pakistan. Fatima patiently explained to them the public-private divide, and how the civil society was sometimes able to bridge the gap. She attended a fundraiser for the TCF. “I met a lot of Pakistani Americans. They were very interested in where I come from. What problems my community faces. With one of them I am currently working on a micro-finance project for Ismail Goth.”

Riaz Haq said...

Two poor #Karachi slum kids rise from Hijrat Colony to attend McGill University. #Pakistan

The story begins in Haripur in the 1990s, Waris Khan worked at the Tarbela Dam as a labourer and made his way to Karachi with Rs500 in his pocket and a simple dream that his children’s life would be better than his.

Karachi was not welcoming at first; Waris slept on the footpath for a few months, desperately trying to eke out a living. He was convinced that Karachi would “do” something for him and that conviction kept him going.

Then, his luck began to change slowly, he found work at a vegetable stall, where for 16 hours a day he sorted and stacked vegetables. Eventually he set up his own stall, selling watermelons and fruit chaat.

He rented a room in Hijrat colony and got married. On Dec 3, 1993, his son Fazal was born.

Waris worked long hours enabling him to expand his business and he soon set up a large fruit stall in Bath Island.

He would often ask the men and women who frequented his stall about the neighbourhood school called Kensington Grammar School. Very early on, he had made up his mind that Fazal would attend this school. When the time came, he confidently strode in through the gates and insisted that they educate his son.

The school was run by a family who strongly believed in providing quality education for children from low-income backgrounds. Adil Soomro whose family set up the school tells me “Waris paid the fees for Fazal for a few months but after that when he could not afford to, we sponsored him.” Fazal was a keen learner and adapted easily to the school.

As the years passed, Fazal went to school in the mornings and helped his father at the fruit stall in the afternoons. He often bought his books along and would do his homework there. “My colleagues at school would see me at the fruit stall,” he says. “Some of them were accepting of me, others didn’t want to study with the son of a fruit vendor.” He says. “In fact, there came a time, when some of my father’s regular clients stopped coming to our stall and we heard that they were telling people that my father could afford to send me to school because the fruit he sold were so expensive.”

In the years that followed, Fazal’s younger brother also joined school and continued in his footsteps. When the O level results were announced, Fazal received a scholarship at the Lyceum School. His parents were overjoyed, Waris Khan could see the years of hard work paying off.

“Years ago my father’s cousin’s wife had taunted him and told him that he would never amount to anything and that his children would also remain uneducated labourers,” Fazal tells me. “That really hurt my father to the core. When I got into A levels he felt vindicated!”

Fazal fit into Lyceum, playing sports, participating in extra curricular activities. He slowly made a few friends. “Even though I wore the same uniform as them, somehow they knew I wasn’t like them,” he says. But many of his classmates accepted him with open arms and helped him settle in. When the time came to apply for college — ­­­ he didn’t even consider it an option given his financial constraints — until Adil and his mother who had been guiding him since his early school days encouraged him to.

And then a miracle happened … he got accepted with a partial scholarship to McGill University.

“I remember telling my father that I had been accepted at one of the best universities in Canada. I had gone to the his fruit stall to break the news to him, but I knew there was no way that I would be able to afford to go.” Fazal remembers that he had tears in his eyes and for the first time he felt helpless.

Riaz Haq said...

Aansoo is a 20-year-old student in the final stages of a bachelor's degree. She is the only person in this village with more than a smattering of education. Her mission is to change that: "I'll make these children doctors," she says. "I'll make them teachers and engineers."

The kids in Aansoo's cattle shed are from Pakistan's Hindu community — a marginalized, sometimes victimized, minority in an overwhelmingly Muslim nation. Their village has for centuries subsisted on the tiny income produced by picking cotton and green chilies for feudal landlords.

Riaz Haq said...

Energy is a critical element in our lives and positive developments are taking place in energy sector of Pakistan. Four to five years from now, our country will have a significant energy growth as many big projects are in the pipeline, said Syed Asad Ali Shah, former advisor finance, Sindh, on Tuesday.

“One of the greatest achievements of this government is to import LNG through LNG terminals, which have been completed laying down in March this year. LNG import is becoming streamlined. It will very much help redress energy crisis,” he said while speaking as a guest of honor in Conference on Entrepreneurial Engineering Opportunities in Renewable Energy for Self Sufficiency organized by College of Engineering Sciences, Institute of Business Management (IoBM).

He said apart from achievement in LNG sector, oil prices had also crashed which would boost overall production of the country. Shah said integration in energy sector was a much needed. All the companies working in silo should be controlled and monitored by one single body. “It is unfortunate thing that our country has been relying on imported fuel to generate electricity, while, our country is blessed with many resources and one of them is huge reserves of coal. I see positive development in Thar coal as Engro Corporation and Habib Bank Limited will be working on it,” he said.

He said hopefully, sanctions on Iran would be soon lifted and Iran-Pakistan (IP) Gas project would become reality. Prime minister of Pakistan has also discussed energy issue with Turkmenistan in his recent visit. We are generating 100mw electricity from wind corridors, which have the capacity of thousands mega watt. We also have great potential of solar energy if used properly,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Engro Vopak Terminal Limited Shaikh Imran Ul Haq delivered presentation on how Pakistan got LNG pipeline laid. How challenging it was in 335 days, “still Engro achieved this task”.“We are energy deficit country and importing LNG will provide us cheap alternative energy,” he said.

Senior Executive Director Osmani & Co Dr Akhtar said Europe and America had excelled in wind and PV solar energy as renewable energy, while coal, gas and oil are vanishing in those countries. Germany’s single largest energy production is solar and we were not getting benefit of this natural resource despite abundance of it in our country.

He said wind and PV solar energy should be used by choice rather than compulsion. Karachi was going to be dark in the smoke of pollution and electric vehicles were the solution for this.
Managing Director Systek (Pvt) Ltd Navid Ansari said energy gap is third world countries like Pakistan could not be overcome in near future. Solar energy could be immediate, affordable and abundant alternative source.

Member (Energy) of the Planning Commission, Ministry of
Planning, Development & Reforms, Syed Akhtar Ali said pricing on PV solar products should be lowered to promote the product. The government needed to lower duties on local production to make it viable.

Rector IoBM Talib Karim, Chairperson IEEE Dr Parkash Lohana, Ex-managing director Siemens Sohail Wajahat, Engineer, IEEEP, Irfan Ahmed,Dean Faculty of EECE MUET Dr Bhawani Shankar and HoD Public Affairs and Senior faculty IoBM Parvez Jamil were also present on the occasion.

Riaz Haq said...

Going from an inner-city slum to an Ivy League university is an incredible journey for anyone. But for a girl in Pakistan, a country where the female literacy rate is 38%, it is an almost unheard-of achievement.

Anum Fatima made international headlines when she won a summer scholarship to Harvard. She grew up in a Karachi slum but attended a school run by The Citizens Foundation (TCF), an education charity which has opened 1000 schools teaching more than 145,000 underprivileged children. TCF schools are built in deprived areas and are open to all faiths and ethnicities. They also focus on giving both girls and boys equal access to education - 46% of their pupils are female.

Now 23, Fatima was one of TCF’s first graduates. The daughter of a maid and a driver, she completed her undergraduate degree and has started a Masters Programme from CBM, a leading business school in Karachi, with a TCF scholarship. Fatima says: “I want to be the CEO of a leading company but before that I want to spend a few years at TCF to pay them back for all they have done for me."

Anum has given presentations on the challenges girls face

While she was delighted with the news that she would be jetting off to Massachusetts, her father had a slightly delayed reaction. Fatima said: “He had not heard of Harvard. When he went to work that day, he asked his boss, who told him what a tremendous achievement it was.”

Fatima came first in her class at the Harvard summer school. She says: “It was an advanced learning programme for English. There were 15 students from all over the world. I topped my class and received a certificate and a book signed by the Dean.”

During the three-month trip she also spoke at the US State Department and interned at a US-based think tank. She was able to give people an accurate description of the educational challenges in her country.

Fatima said: “People in the West think that girls in Pakistan are not allowed to study. In all of the presentations I made and all the people I talked to, I told them that parents wanted their girls to study but it was the lack of resources and awareness that held them back.”

The need for education to be made a priority in Pakistan is clear - 26 countries that are poorer than Pakistan send more children to primary school and one in 10 children worldwide who are not in primary school live in Pakistan. TCF believes its model is a Pakistani solution to a Pakistani problem.

Ateed Riaz, Co-Founder of The Citizens Foundation, said: “Everything related to education is a step forward; whether it is under a tree, in a garage or in a tent. However, we felt that since we ourselves are a product of formal education, we will build our institution along the same lines. We will create schools which are properly built, and not in a tent or basement. We were confident about our decision and there was never any hesitation or doubt regarding the path we had chosen.”

Riaz Haq said...

Upwardly Mobile #Pakistan: #TCF & #IBA Alum Nadeem Hussain's rise from #Karachi slum to #WorldBank consultant. … …

This is a moving story about a young man from a katchi abadi in Karachi, who graduated from IBA, Karachi despite his father working as a mazdoor in a wire factory for 35 years. Today, Nadeem Hussain works as a World Bank Technical Assistant to the Government of Sindh and after his office duties are over for the day, he helps children from katchi abadis secure admission into top tier universities like IBA, so they can experience the same life transformation that he did through the power of education. What’s even more striking about Nadeem’s story is that the daughter of the owner of the factory where Nadeem’s father works studied at IBA, at the same time as Nadeem.

“I’ve personally experienced how education removes the barriers of class and privilege,” shares Nadeem. “There was a time in my life when I went to the factory to help my dad sometimes. Later, when I secured admission into IBA, the owner of the factory was so proud that he hugged my father. My father was the proudest dad in the world at that time. Two years later, the daughter of the factory’s owner also got admitted into IBA and we actually took a course together. Now, I want other children from katchi abadis to have opportunities like this.”

Extraordinary Pakistanis: the mama and baby fund

“My father migrated to Karachi from Naushahro Feroze when I was a young boy,” shares Nadeem. “He started working in a wire factory and we got a house in a katchi abadi near the industrial area. There was no school in the area and I was an out of school child until The Citizens Foundation (TCF) opened up a campus in my area. My mother got me enrolled in grade four because she had studied till grade five and was able to teach me the Urdu alphabet on her own. I did my matric in 2007 and later applied for a fully funded National Talent Hunt Program (NTHP) scholarship in IBA. At IBA, I got the opportunity to visit the United States as part of an exchange programme and visited places like MIT, Harvard and the US Senate. In the US, I realised that no other child from my TCF school or katchi abadi would get the opportunity to see what I’m seeing unless I could help them in some way.”

In his senior year at IBA, Nadeem and a friend, Farheen Ghaffar, created the TCF Alumni Development Programme (ADP) together with a group of volunteers, to help TCF students find placements and funding for top tier universities like IBA, LUMS, NED, FAST-NU and Habib University. Here’s how their team works: first, the team collects data from TCF, of their graduates. These graduates are then educated about the different top tier universities and their programmes. For example, the application process to a top university is in itself so complicated and the application fee so high that it becomes a barrier to the application. The ADP’s team of volunteers mentor the TCF alumni and guide them through the application process while convincing university management to drop the application fees for such underprivileged children. Through their honest work and advocacy, Nadeem and team were able to convince Dr Ishrat Hussain at IBA to waive the application fees for all such students and recently, five students mentored by Nadeem’s team are successfully studying at IBA, fully funded by scholarships.

Riaz Haq said...

From Slums to Universities Abroad – 5 Most Inspirational Stories

Every once in a while, 1 out of the 23 – 32 million people living in slums in Pakistan, manages to surpass all the obstacles that come their way, to the extent that they break all barriers right to the very last…


One such inspiration to all students, (regardless of their social background) is Muhammad Sabir, a 28 year old activist that is now running the organisation called ‘Slumabad’ that aims to focus on social issues like promoting education and hygiene in kids from slum areas, since these topics are of least importance in such places.

Having completed his schooling from City District Government Boys High School, Township Lahore and graduating from Pakistan’s Chartered Institute of Management Accountants by doing side jobs such as teaching tuition, Sabir was selected as a 2012 fellow for the Emerging Leaders of Pakistan (ELP) programme run by the Atlantic Council, a development program empowering future Pakistani leaders. For his training, Sabir was sent to United States of America. There he met with policymakers, civil society leaders and such, to help further his efforts in Pakistan.


From Ibrahim Goth, (a slum area in karachi) this TCF student has completed her B. A from CBM and is now being sent to Harvard Business School for a Summer Exchange Programme on a full scholarship.


Shah Faisal, is a dedicated student that lacks the funds for further education though he has managed to secure the first place in 12th grade (inter) exam’s all over Pakistan. Though this samosa vendor has appealed to be given a scholarship in Peshawar University’s System Engineering program, he hasn’t received confirmation as of yet.


A similar success story – a star student who managed to secure amazing grades in matric is the daughter of a vegetable seller. After school she and her sister sell vegetables with their father or manage their own ‘gola ganda’ stall. Be it power break downs or a shortage of gas, she lets nothing deter her from her aim of being the best. One day she wishes to gain admission into a medical college to pursue her family’s dream.


Son of a fruit seller with a vision; this man let nothing stand in his way to success and certainly did not let this label define him negatively. Instead, today he stands proud of having made it to where most people can only dream of being, a partial scholarship to McGill University, in Canada. Being funded by a good soul, Fazal graduated from one of the most reputable A level institutions in Karachi, again only on merit, and not on source. Today his brother is following his footsteps with many people supporting them in their efforts to improve their lives and those of their to -be families.

These are just a few cases that we know of. There are hundreds more that are only restricted by such circumstances that don’t allow them to excel beyond what they have been exposed to. We strongly believe, being granted the right opportunities does wonders for lifetimes to come. If anyone of you possesses the means to help not just these kids, but the likes of them, sponsoring their education is potentially the best way to not only secure the future generations of this nation, but also to give back to the society in which we spend such privileged lives.

Riaz Haq said...

In Lahore, Pakistan, parents with incomes of
less than 2,000 rupees per month spend 10–11
percent of their income on education, while
those with monthly incomes above 10,000
rupees spend 6 percent (Alderman et al.,

Riaz Haq said...

School Quality, School Cost, and the Public/Private School Choices
of Low-Income Households in Pakistan
Harold Aldermana
Peter F. Orazemb
Elizabeth M. Patern

Given the deliberate concentration on low income neighborhoods, the
sample strategy identified a large number of low income households. Fifty-five percent of the
sampled children are in households earning less than 3,500 rupees ($100) per month,
corresponding to below $1 per person per day. Despite the low incomes, a surprisingly large
proportion of children is in school. Only 11 percent of the boys and 8 percent of the girls aged
6-10 were not enrolled. However, the probability of withholding a child from school drops
rapidly as income rises. The lowest income households withheld 25 percent of their boys and 21
percent of their girls from school. In contrast, almost all children in households earning above
Rs 3500 are in school.
Not only is enrollment high, a high share of children is enrolled in private schools, even
children from the poorest families. Only in the poorest category in table 1 is the share of
children in government schools greater than in private schools, and then only barely so. As
household income increases, the share of children in private school increases dramatically.
Similar findings of extensive use of private schools by poor families in Karachi (Kardar 1995).
The high proportion of children in private schools is even more surprising, given the
share of household income that must be sacrificed. Even though the amount spent per child rises
with income, the share of income spent declines. In addition, for the lowest income households,
the difference in expenses between private and government schools is not large. While the fees
for private schools exceed that for public (indeed, most public schools are free) government
schools charge for uniforms, books and supplies. Operating costs of private schools are relatively
low, despite relatively higher teacher pupil ratios, due to lower salary structures. Overall, many
private schools can compete with government schools on total schooling costs. The survey
verified these costs by interviewing staff and managers.

Riaz Haq said...

From Ibrahim Hyderi Fishing Village Near #Karachi to U of Michigan, there’s no stopping this #TCF alumna. #Pakistan

Iqra Saleem is no ordinary girl — the first person to attend Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) from her fishing village — Saleem has just returned from an exchange programme in the United States and aspires to work in the public sector to give back to the society.

Saleem, a resident of Karachi’s Ibrahim Hyderi, said her school had played a pivotal role in shaping her life. With no educational institution in the disadvantaged neighbourhood, Saleem said it was her good fortune that The Citizens Foundation (TCF) decided to build a campus in the area.

Student by day and tailor by night, Saleem strived hard. That is what she said took her where she is today. “I believe everyone can achieve their dreams with hard work and consistency,” Saleem said.

After acing her matric and intermediate exams, Saleem set her eyes on the LUMS scholarship programme. With the help of mentors from TCF-Alumni Development Programme, Saleem prepared for the university admission test and was eventually awarded a full-merit scholarship to study at LUMS’ Suleman Dawood School of Business.

“I don’t think I would have had a future if there was no TCF in Ibrahim Goth. I might have remained unaware of what I could achieve like many out-of-school children. I would have never realised my dream for higher education without the support of my mentors,” Saleem said.

For the young who lead challenging lives Saleem said, “Always dream high and never give up. “No one gets anywhere without hard work. Some people just have to struggle more.”

Saleem’s urged the privileged to help the less fortunate. “Never settle for less. Help others if you come across opportunities. Scores of children still remain out of school and and they have little idea of what they are missing out on,” she emphasised.

Having just returned from Michigan after studying a semester at Saginaw Valley State University on scholarship, Saleem said she wanted to attend graduate school abroad before returning to work in the public sector.

“I want to particularly deal with education as it is something very near to my heart. I want to devote my time and money to revamp the sector to such an extent that exclusive access to education becomes a thing of the past,” Saleem said.

Riaz Haq said...

Amjad Ali, #Karachi rickshaw driver, father of six daughters sending them all to school in #Pakistan. One of his daughter Muskan just won a scholarship to study at top #business school. #education #highereducation

In a country where many women are still discouraged from getting an education and are married off early, Amjad Ali, a father of six daughters, and a rickshaw driver, has broken the mould by sending his daughters to Karachi’s leading universities, reports Samaa TV.

“People often mocked and criticised me, saying that girls are bound to get married and move out and to stop wasting my hard-earned money on my daughters,” he said.

But one of his daughters, Muskan, recently received a scholarship from the Institute of Business Administration, which is one of the top business schools in the country. “It was one of the happiest days of my life,” he said. “Be it a son or a daughter, the right to education is equal for all,” he believes.

Riaz Haq said...

The education spending multiplier: Evidence from schools in Pakistan
Tahir Andrabi Natalie Bau Jishnu Das Naureen Karachiwalla Asim Ijaz Khwaja / 11 Jun 2023

Private schools in Pakistan, as in many other countries, are financed almost entirely through school fees. Therefore, when public schools improve, private schools must also improve or risk losing valuable revenue as parents opt for public schools. This column examines the effect of a public school grants programme in rural Pakistan and estimates the ‘education multiplier’ for the effect of public funding on private sector school quality. The authors find that grants given to public schools increase test scores in both public and private schools as a result of increased competition.

In the past, policymakers worried that there were not enough schools for children in low- and middle-income countries. But today, millions of children in these countries live in villages or neighbourhoods where they can choose from multiple public or private schools. Figure 1, for instance, shows a typical village in the Learning and Educational Achievement in Pakistan Schools (LEAPS) study. The village takes 20 minutes to cross on foot, but has five private and two public schools. The average village in the LEAPS sample has 7.3 schools, and 60 to 70% of the rural population in Punjab (Pakistan’s largest province) lives in such environments. If we include cities, that fraction rises to more than 90%.

That is a big deal for public policy, which has historically failed to account for the relationship between public policy and the private sector in education.

To see why, note that private schools in Pakistan, like in many other countries, are financed almost entirely through school fees, which parents must be willing to pay. Therefore, when public schools improve, private schools must respond, or face the risk of losing valuable revenue as children opt to attend improved public schools. Thus, understanding the total impact of any programme - even those targeted purely to public schools - requires considering its effect on all other schools in the market, not just on the school where the intervention was implemented, as accounting for the total effects can lead to very different conclusions about effectiveness. Our new paper (Andrabi et al. 2023) measures the effect of a public school grants programme in rural Pakistan and estimates the ‘education multiplier’ for the effect of public funding on private sector school quality.

Riaz Haq said...

The education spending multiplier: Evidence from schools in Pakistan
Tahir Andrabi Natalie Bau Jishnu Das Naureen Karachiwalla Asim Ijaz Khwaja / 11 Jun 2023

Private school fees and their entry or exit into the schooling market are not affected
Interestingly, we do not find evidence of a treatment effect on private school fees, exits (or entries) or market shares - by 2011, the market share of private schools was the same in treatment and control villages. The fact that market share did not change does not mean that parents do not respond to or observe improvements in school quality. Rather, enrolment shares in 2011 are an equilibrium outcome following quality changes in both sectors.

Using standard methods from the literature (Dhaliwal et al. 2013), we then show that the intervention increased test scores in public schools by 1.18 standard deviations for every US$100 in additional spending. But once we factor in improvement in private schools as well, cost-effectiveness increases by 85% to 2.18 standard deviations for every $100 in additional public funding, putting the programme among a small group of highly cost-effective interventions (see Evans and Yuan 2022). Finally, the education multiplier also had fundamental implications for how programmes should be targeted. We show that regardless of whether the government is interested in maximising test score gains from the programme or is interested both in equity and gains, accounting for the education multiplier changes the optimal geographical targeting and distribution of grants across villages.

Riaz Haq said...

The education spending multiplier: Evidence from schools in Pakistan
Tahir Andrabi Natalie Bau Jishnu Das Naureen Karachiwalla Asim Ijaz Khwaja / 11 Jun 2023

Our first main result, that grants to public schools increased test scores, contrasts with an earlier literature where null effects were more common (e.g. Das et. al. 2013, Mbiti et. al. 2019). We may now need to move beyond such ‘grant pessimism’ precisely because we have learned from the previous failures. In contrast to previous grants in India and Zambia, which were offset by parents because they were small, the grants here were much larger and could be used for infrastructure improvements (Das et al. 2013). Indeed, grant size and test score improvements are positively correlated in this programme.

In addition, the schools could use the grants to hire teachers on temporary contracts. Again, this policy reflected what we had learned from prior research, which has consistently shown that teachers hired on temporary contracts may be more effective because they face stronger career incentives (Duflo et al. 2015, Muralidharan and Sundararaman 2013, Bau and Das 2020).

Finally, to avoid the problems of centrally mandated expenditures that are not responsive to local needs as well as potential misuse, schools worked with a reputed NGO and a reconstituted school council to determine investment priorities that were then funded through the grant.

Beyond showing that public school grants can increase test scores, this study demonstrates the existence of a large education multiplier from the public to the private sector. Hundreds of millions of children live in neighbourhoods/villages with substantial school choice, and many of the schools that they can choose from are private schools that survive on school fees. In this highly interconnected world, the idea that there are `programmes for public schools’ and `programmes for private schools’ and that the two can be kept separate is no longer tenable. Failing to account for the effect of public sector interventions on the private sector - ex-ante in the design of the programme and ex-post in its evaluation – leads to less effective interventions and inaccurate evaluations. In our case, restricting the focus to public schools would have led to an entirely different estimate of the programme’s cost effectiveness.

While we show that taking the private sector into account is crucial, spillovers on private schools need not always be positive. Dinerstein and Smith (2021) find that in New York City a public-school improvement programme led to children leaving private schools, and these schools then shutting down. In the Dominican Republic, Nielson et al. (2020) show that a huge school construction programme led to the closure of some private schools, but with quality improvements among the survivors. But across all these studies, the clear message is that the days when public school programmes would have effects only on public schools are over. We need to think of the full schooling environment and not just the part in which we have intervened.