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Homeless Jacob Lewis Gets Place in Cambridge University



Jacob Lewis, 22 years of age, had quite a hard time with quite a lot of hard work which eventually paid off. Being homeless and extremely poor, Jacob had to go through a lot to turn his dream into reality; to get elite education without any support from his family. He was dropped out of college at the age of 17 and then returned to his studies as a mature student, after he felt the need to when his friends and mates were seen graduating.

“At the start of this year I was working 24 hours a week to support my studies and make ends meet, I was barely eating.”

Jacob, after a fall-out with his family, was left with no roof over his head. Jacob was forced into sleeping on friends’ sofas – but spent every waking hour at the college. He lost his zero-hours contract with a nightclub after he asked to take time off for the sake of giving his exams. But he didn’t give up.

“I was on a zero-hours contract and my employer wouldn’t let me have time off for an exam,” he recalled. “I had never missed a shift and I wasn’t prepared to jeopardize my A-levels for £6.50 an hour.” “It was a challenge; but not an impossible one.”

He also gave some credit of his success to his college who gave him benefit through its student hardship fund; Coleg y Cymoedd is the largest A level provider in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf with over 500 learners receiving results. Jacob said he put an extreme effort to make his results outstanding; he spent 12 hours a day in the library. After seeing his result, this effort was worth it.

Jacob obtained 4A*s in his A levels – in the subjects of history, law, sociology and the Welsh Baccalaureate.  He acquired 100% both in history and overall in law. Jacob is his college’s first student to be placed in the Cambridge University. He stated: “I’m absolutely delighted with my results and I hope this shows Welsh students that with hard work and dedication this can be done and dreams can come true.”

Jacob said he didn’t have any firm career or future plans ready after he finishes his education. But he has a sincere “commitment to try and make the world a better place.”

Furthermore, Jacob’s college’s principal Judith Evans stated that she is too extremely proud of all the success Jacob received. “We are so proud of him and are delighted to have been part of his journey.”

Razzan Sehar
Angels International College

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“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be”



The most dreadful word a Pakistani student can hear in his student life is ‘fail’. Although Pakistani’s have proved to show the world, their extraordinary talent in an assortment of fields- be it education, politics and many others there are students in Pakistan that persist to struggle to achieve preferred positions, designations and most of all grades. We all know how concerned our parents are about our grades, and not so providentially some students who could not grab the utmost of their scores and grades they live their sophomore years with the constant ranting by the society. Not only does the society blame them, but their parents too are ashamed of them?

So does a failure in grades means that the person is a total failure? Well absolutely not, Pakistani students need to realize this. FAILING in itself demands us to; give it another go for least a statistically significant number. What if you fail? A failure helps us shape us our dreams and aspirations and work hard for them. Talk about JK Rowling, Bill Gates and the element if failure has made their success worth it. Talking about a few of their success stories we might get a better insight on what made them work hard even after the failures. This way, many people can know, as a matter of fact that how necessary it is to continue with the same zeal and zest even after you have failed once. You need to have faith in God, and believe that your capabilities will make you, find your way through it.

J. K. Rowling; We owe that woman for Harry Potter, don’t we? Rowling may be undulating in a lot of Harry Potter  today, but before she published the series of novels she was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. Rowling went from depending on welfare to survive to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through her hard work and determination.

Oprah Winfrey; Most people know Oprah as one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the richest and most successful women in the world. Oprah faced a hard road to get to that position, however, enduring a uneven and often abusive childhood as well as numerous career setbacks.

Bill Gates; Gates didn’t seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.

Albert Einstein; Most of us take Einstein’s name as synonymous with genius, but he didn’t always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.

Isaac Newton; was undoubtedly a genius when it came to math, but he had some failings early on. He never did particularly well in school and when put in charge of running the family farm, he failed miserably, so poorly in fact that an uncle took charge and sent him off to Cambridge where he finally became into the scholar we know today.

The reason for providing you with the history of their stories and all is to stimulate courage inside of you and optimism will help many people around the world to continue to have success stories after failures. Going through these failures and successes is what makes you work passionately for your preferred profession or career.

Rida Kamal
Beaconhouse School System

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Slum girl beats all odds to secure distinction in SSC exam



16-year-old Nargis Gul from the slums of Chakwal has just proved that there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome by sheer hard work and determination. Nargis, born and raised in the slums, decided not to let the odds come in the way of her dream to excel in education. She secured 1,004 marks in Senior Secondary Certificate (SSC) annual examination and also topped her class.

In a video message shared online, she said: “I have obtained 1,004 marks after so much hard work despite the hard conditions as we don’t even have a reasonable residence, whenever it rains, everything inside our hut gets wet along with my books,” further adding “I do not want any laptop from the government, but only education”.

She resides in a gypsy house containing two small rooms with her family and her mother sell the bangles to earn money. Her two cousins Aakash and Aksar are also studying in class eight to follow her.

The chief minister Punjab congratulated Nargis Gull on obtaining 1004 marks in science subjects in Rawalpindi Board matric examination and announced a free house for the talented student. The chief minister said that a free of charge house will be given to the student in Lahore or Chakwal according to her choice. He also gifted  five lakh rupees for day-to-day expenditure of Nargis Gull and her family whereas her educational expenses will also be borne by the provincial government. Shehbaz Sharif said that Nargis Gull has obtained outstanding marks in science subjects due to hard work despite difficult circumstances. He said that talented students like Nargis Gull are bright future of Pakistan and the nation is proud of her. He said that Punjab government will bear educational expenditure of Nargis Gull throughout her educational career.

The chief minister also talked to Gul’s teacher on phone in Chakwal and appreciated her efforts.

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The Real Face of Education



Welcome to the  most of  the educational  institutions of today: they are the new breed of the institutions which have blossomed into  an industry of catering to the educational needs of the middle class , rich upper middle class and of course the elite. The word industry might sound crude or even vulgar to few who would think that schools are the alma mater of the students and are the  sacred grounds ; but , it is the bitter truth and the soon we swallow it the better. Schools, colleges & universities all have become industries which produce students packaged in fancy gift wraps, with a colorful ribbon like a cherry on icing, and then dished out to the unsuspecting, at times suspecting, parents who only want the end product: the child with marks. Hence, the manufacturing of the students is a profitable business and combine it, with fancy slogans, foreign programs and of course a real learning sprinkled here and there and it is the recipe of opening an educational institution in Pakistan; if you know your business and you have done your research, have the knowhow of running a business and have partners who are the so called educationists of the past two decades and are a big name in the present one.

So, how did education, if we should call it education, reach to this level; it is a question worth probing into. Many factors are responsible for it and I dare to identify a few of the leading ones. I do not wish to offend anyone in doing so, or point a finger at any institution; it is just a social commentary.

• Rise of the materialistic and the technologic world ; A tale of two generations:

I remember my parents were into marks, asking me about my progress and they used to attend parent teacher meetings; so were the parents of my class fellows and my friends too. But these never were into marks only; they always expected teachers and schools to give a true picture of their children’s capabilities and performance. They never expected a false report card landing into their laps; hence sending kids to schools was one part of their duty. They never neglected the other part of their parents’ duty: spending time with their kids, sitting with them for homework, setting a routine for work. It was the children’s job to study and parents to supervise at home. I remember my mother was also unable to help me with my Math and Science work at home in secondary school , but she was always there and I knew it very well that I  could not go out to play at 6 until I had done my work and she had signed the diary and listened to my tests. Of course,   Fathers were busy then too in their jobs, but the parents always knew what was happening with their kids. They used to see my notebooks regularly and I was always asked to work on my weakness over the weekend.    Gradually, such type of parents started becoming mommies and daddies with the rise in the social setup of our middle class and upper middle class. The race for more money, foreign trips, branded clothes, expensive furniture gave a rise to a culture where parents only became a source of money for the children. The rise in technology further gave rise to a materialistic approach where the kids learned the application of the gadgets in their mothers’ wombs, but the parents failed to learn the things which they so proudly bought for their young progenies. The parents are happy that their kids have the latest laptops, gadgets, mobiles, X box and it will make their kids intelligent and smart just by using it. Most of the children did become smart, but smart in what way: in dodging their parents, in becoming ease loving and taking their parents for a ride. A major part of this generation which is growing up unsupervised in their homes with the entire world at the touch of their fingertips gave a rise to a new breed of education; the new face of the private sector.

• The tuition culture : replacement of real parents:

Well, when I was a student, there were hardly a few students in the schools who went for tuitions. Those who needed support at school or at home were identified and were given realistic help. Just for doing the homework or babysitting for a few hours, parents very seldom used to send their kids for tuitions to aunties as they were called. Even at O levels, the children used to get summer classes in schools and it used to be enough to get good   grades. When the parents stopped paying attention to their off springs, and they started thinking that by spending money on tuitions is enough and they have done their  job, the real problem started. The tuition centers and the schools day care for even one month old babies mushroomed and the whole scenario changed for our education sector. Well the tuitions centers for O levels and a levels is another story altogether ; I am talking about summer camps for toddlers and evening schools and after school centers for working moms which have replaced what parents used to do. What kind of students they will give to the society and what kind of rosy picture they give to parents we all know very well.

• The new face of  private institutions to meet the new generation of parents ‘demands 

Obviously, this new emerging culture in Pakistan needed schools that were also selling education to the precious clients and catering to the need of the materialistic world. How could schools not change to meet the rising demands and not sniff what was to become the most profitable business in Pakistan. Now parents send kids to schools, pay a hefty amount of fees and demand their kids get good grades in the name of education. This changed the system completely. Let us delve deep into the changes that I feel have taken place over the years:

 Now parents demand marks, students want marks, teachers give marks and schools sell marks.
 The policy of making everything easy in the name of education has emerged. You make things too easy for the students and just keep on promoting the kids to please the parents who do not have time to check their kids ‘abilities but only see the end result : a result card which gives them the certificates of their money well spent.
 Along with a new breed of parents, schools and students, of course, a new breed of teachers have emerged too, who are apt at finding the easy way out of things, not to bother about notebook checking, and why should they, when parents and higher ups only want marks and all students passing, only grading papers as per the new requirements. These teacher do not teach or make students learn anything concrete; but yes they know the necessary art of superficial coverage and pleasing all concerned; the clients and the employers. Of course, that is the right way in today’s world. All that glitter is gold indeed.

To conclude, the real sad truth is that Pakistan is in dire need of a revolutionary change in education and culture where all need to sit and think, and bring a change together before it gets too late. The damage done over the past decade is I hope not still irreversible.

The change should come from the real educationists who are still a part of the old leading institutions and have tasted real education. They must all sit together, join hands and bring the schools back to their old glory. If the real teachers, educationists are brave enough to change the thinking of the young generation under their care by providing students with real education and its value, the next generation of parents will not be mommies and daddies and the vicious cycle will ultimately end. The real change will come but we all  , who actually care , need to work hard for it .

Sabeen Masaud
Beaconhouse School System

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