Mending broken shards

By Minahil Amin

Passing matriculation exams is an important part of the lives of many Pakistani students. Both the students and their parents make utmost effort to ensure good marks. This effort involves studying for hours, and taking tuitions. Mostly, female teachers teach tuitions at home. They think that their aim is to help the student learn information so that they can reproduce it correctly in the exam. These teachers are not wrong in thinking so, because our education system does somewhat give preference to rote learning.

In Rabtt Summer Camp 2015, many students could not attend camp because they had to go for tuitions. Since it was Ramzan, almost every tuition teacher wanted to get free early, and so would call their students for morning classes. Even though these girls wanted to attend summer camp because they loved it, they were forced to go to tuitions because their parents thought that tuitions were more important. Perhaps tuitions are more important. But then, summer camp is not useless either. These kids spend the entire academic year rote learning formulas and information. A month of learning through fun and games can do them no harm; in fact it refreshes their minds.  Since I was an English teacher at RSC’15, one of the students wanted me to help improve her English. Her reading skills improved considerably in a couple of days before Ramzan. Once Ramzan started, she had to go for tuitions in the morning, and she could not improve her English further. Once, I asked her why she didn’t ask her tuition teacher to help her with her English. She said that Physics, Chemistry, Biology are more important than English and more attention needs to be given to them. Her answer should not have shocked me, but it did. No subject is more or less important. In fact, if there was a hierarchy of subjects, English would have been more important because language is required to express every feeling, thought and emotion.

minahilThe method of teaching at tuition centers is not only extremely monotonous; it is sometimes brutal as well. One of the summer camp students told us that her tuition teacher would hit the students if their homework was not done on time. Another time, I was helping a student paint her clay art project. After accidently dropping some paint on the table, her body suddenly froze. She looked up at me, and said in a tiny voice, “Miss, aap ghusa to nahi karain gi?” I was silent for a second, my mind buzzing with thoughts. Dropping paint is not that big a deal. Why would I be angry if a kid drops some paint, and that too on a table which can easily be cleaned? Isn’t art all about making a mess and having fun? I patted the girl on the shoulder, smiled and said, “Nahi baita, iss mai ghusa karnay wali kaun si baat hai?” You can’t imagine how relieved she looked. Then she said, “Par humari miss to gandd macahnay par bohat ghusa karti hain.” I shook my head and asked her to continue painting.

The purpose of a teacher’s life is to shape a child’s future. The fellows at Rabtt are not teachers, we are friends.

Children are like flowers, and even the lightest touch can harm them. If a child mentions something, it is never without a reason. Sometimes, teachers tell a kid off for something, and then forget all about it. However, that one sentence uttered out of a teacher’s mouth might change the child’s life forever. Education does not imply learning books upon books by heart. Education has a greater purpose. Proper education has the power to turn useless rocks into diamonds. Teachers are not just there to teach a class, and then go home. The purpose of a teacher’s life is to shape a child’s future. The fellows at Rabtt are not teachers, we are friends. Friends, who wish to give something and get something in return. Friends, who want to make a difference. Friends, who want to have fun and gift smiles. Friends, who want to mend broken shards.

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