How it all began
Most people know Shehzad Roy only as a musician.
He has, however, been involved for many years in some remarkable attempts to reform public-sector institutions as well.
He recounts here his involvement with government schools and the lessons he learnt along the way.
Imran Akhoond has been playing guitar with me for years and now performs for all the top musical shows on television.
He belongs to a Gujrati family and, as a kid, he spoke and interacted in his mother tongue.
At school, his teacher asked him to speak in Urdu and, as expected, it was a struggle for him.
As he grew up, Imran applied for jobs but the applications had to be written in English, which was another struggle. His late father would ask him to pray to God in Arabic to ensure that he secured the job.
No doubt, it’s good to learn different languages but not so good when your fate depends on them.
It is said that only those with brilliant minds and considered as the cream of society pass the Public Service Commission’s Central Superior Service (CSS) exams and go on to become bureaucrats.
CSS examination candidates have to sit for a compulsory written essay in English.
If you do not pass this English essay exam, you fail the entire CSS examination. Among the general population, however, we could possibly have potential geniuses who may fail the CSS exams due to poor writing skills in English.
And this is true for nearly all prime jobs in Pakistan. So the cream that we get is processed and quite bad for health!
In any case, I am glad that Imran could not get the jobs he vied for, and instead became one of the top guitarists of Pakistan. But not everyone is as lucky as Imran.
I have lately been thinking about Imran because of my own journey in education reform.
It is a journey I stumbled into and through which I have learnt more from my mistakes and missteps than anything else.