I BECAME aware of an educational tier system very early in my college days, which was around the early 1950s. I matriculated from Islamia High School, Gujranwala, which was a school of good repute all round in this small town of the time.
I came back to Lahore and managed to get admission to a famous college. In our FSc (medical) section, there were students from well-known English medium schools of Lahore like Saint Anthony’s and Cathedral — schools about which I did not know anything while in Gujranwala – in addition to my favourite and ‘dream’ Urdu medium school — Central Model High School of Lahore, the good reputation of which I was well aware, even in my small town.
One day, it so happened in a chemistry class that our teacher, just out of the blue made a remark which has stuck in my mind to this day. He announced in the class during his lecture,” I do not like boys coming from Islamia schools to our college.”
There was a round of applause for the teacher from the English medium students while we, the ones (a few) who had come from Islamia schools were sitting in the class like frightened chickens.
Come to think of it now, we were admitted to the college strictly on merit, like the rest of them. The only obvious difference was that they could converse in English fluently, while we were still learning to speak correct English.
A bit of our pride returned after the December examinations when our performance was at par with our English-speaking friends — in English subject. Our teacher of the 1950s could be forgiven for his painful remarks as he was still under the influence of the Raj days.
Naturally, I worry about our youngsters who today face not two but a three-tier educational system in our country. Our prime minster is aware of this problem and has vowed to change it into ‘one syllabus for all students’ system. This is a noble gesture but to me it appears easier said than done.
Only time will tell whether he and his team of education experts will be able to successfully tackle it.
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2020