Plight of Pakistani students

Feb 26th, 2012 | By | Category: Latest, Pakistan

Being an International student can be very stressful especially if you have to go it alone. Naive Pakistani students leave home in high spirits to acquire the ‘waliyati’ education because it offers bright prospects and opens doors to plenty of dough encompassed with a life changing experience. I do vouch for all that and I cannot deny the fact that the curriculum, instructors and facilities that can be found in most institutions of higher learning in countries like the United States, Canada, UK and Australia are unparallel to the ones found back home but does that imply that the few who do get the opportunity to study in fancy schools are living a life of envy? As much as they would like to say ‘yes’, deep down inside they will only hear a resonating ‘no’.

It is not easy being an international student, living in an alien environment, being a part of a microcosm of multiculturalism and dealing with harrowing situations. Sure, the idea of studying abroad is riveting, until you actually do it. Everything associated with the ‘waliyati’ education comes at a hefty cost and by that I don’t just mean in monetary terms but also in terms of physical and mental wellbeing.  More often than not it takes leaving home to realize that we are truly blessed with a lifestyle that is probably out of reach for the average Joe Smith studying at London School of Economics.

Most students belonging to upper middle class families have at their disposition fine dining, housekeeping, clean laundry amidst other things that they take for granted. It is only when they have to do all that on their own do they begin to appreciate things back home.  Not that I think that there is anything wrong with doing all those chores, it’s just that no level of mental preparedness helps one to keep up with all these cumbersome duties. Self sufficiency is a hard feat to conquer and only the strong willed can make it. Life as an international student means balancing work, studies and house chores contrary to partying, sightseeing and relaxing.  If anything it means your workload is tripled and your nerves are always on edge. Matters are only made worse when the family back home decides to cut down your allowance forcing you to fend for yourself. By the end of the educational sojourn many are exhilarated about going back to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan only to find a dismal and bleak state of affairs.

If only Pakistan had institutes of high caliber devoted to different schools of learning many would comfortably stay home without having to slave all day in an alien country. Of course it’s a different scenario if the entire family is settled but that is just the ideal situation. It is very common for most of the student Diaspora to share small apartments surviving the minimalistic way. Fact of the matter is many individuals sacrifice the good life back home in return for quality acquisition of knowledge. Worse yet, many who come back as graduates from top universities find that there is little opportunity in Pakistan’s job market especially if they want to make it big. As much as they want to stay home they are forced to go back in search for a better living because the government just doesn’t give two tarts about improving the social, economic and educational prospects of the country. Consequently Pakistan has been facing acute brain drain and more so in the recent years  but apparently this grave problem has been conveniently sidelined.

If our country continues to spend less than 3% of its GDP on education and instead chooses to consistently increase its defence budget to RS.495 billion for a threat that may just be more perceived than real then one shouldn’t even bother anticipating change.

It is so unfortunate that a country that has a rich endowment of resources and young people brimming with talent is not doing anything to hone it. Pakistani students are blessed with great intellect and they deserve much better than struggling to get the quality of education that is so easily accessible to their white counterparts. If only the leaders of our country had even a foresight to acknowledge the importance of knowledge based society!

Humaira Ahmad

About the author

Humaira Ahmad Hirose is a freelance writer and blogger who thinks narcissism is necessary for high self esteem.

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  1. Dear Humaira
    i could tell you all this before you left for Australia. I faced the same situation when I was studying abroad but we share thoughts and You have my email. May be I can lessen your woes.
    Best wishes

  2. Humaira,
    The part about Pakistani government not giving a dime for intellectual students is absolutely true. But where i would differ from your thoughts is that, Life is not always difficult for a student abroad. Sometimes, they even end up having a better time than they used to have back home. Being home, a regular “Desi” boy/girl is spoon fed till the time they actually have to become self dependent, and at that time too a “reference” or a bribe is usually used to get them a seat at the office. The biggest benefit of going abroad is that it kills the superiority complex in many of those who come from a big shot family. They actually get to taste the flavor of being an average person.
    Its not that just the standard of education being provided in Pakistan is the issue behind brain drain. In my opinion, Security of life right now is the biggest issue. If only there is a safe and secure Pakistan, There is still hope for change.

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