Education, Development, and Change
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Friday, April 9, 2010

Spread the word

IT takes an educationist to know an educationist. Shahid Siddiqui’s earlier book Rethinking Education in Pakistan is now followed by a novel which has all the trappings of an educational setting — college campus, hostel life, educational conferences and a professor-student relationship. What is more relevant is the contemporary setting of the story which relates to recent events in the country.

The background is provided by the civil activists’ movement for the restoration of an independent judiciary, a noble and democratic cause which reflects the independent thinking at a university campus. Universities are meant to produce enlightened individuals but this can only be achieved if students are given a free hand to develop and challenge their own thought processes and that of others.

Professor Roy’s role in upholding a just cause and persistently dedicating his life to ensure its success is an example of selfless commitment to his progressive mind.

The central character of the story is Professor Saharan Roy whose exceptional personality is built up through a fascinating matrix of other characters their interactions with him.

The link between society, governance, justice and education of the masses is a theme that runs throughout the book.

The character of the professor is slowly but vividly built up by his ex-students and their reminiscing; what emerges is an inspirational figure who is an ideal university professor.

Roy arrives to spend a night at a college hostel and there meets a student, Imtisal, who finally finds someone to share her intellectual bent of mind.

The suspense builds up through a student’s quest for a mentor and the passing on of a professor’s dream to a student to carry on the noble task of being a contributor to the education of the poor.

Shahid Siddiqui has used language in a contemporary mode in order to give credence to a story which is meant to add to the literature on education that is available in the country.

The novel is an exposition of the language spoken by students these days which is Urdu with a heavy dose of English words; although for the reader it is often difficult to read English words written in Urdu. However, the style is succinct and the philosophical underpinnings are priceless in their depth and motivation for a brighter future in educating the public at large.

Moreover, the quick-paced story keeps the reader involved right up to its unexpected conclusion. Simultaneously, the link between society, governance, justice and education of the masses is a theme that runs throughout the book.

There are many gaps in our educational system which are highlighted in the book. For example, Professor Roy explains what makes a good teacher by using the imagery of a layered cake: the foundation is knowledge, the next layer is the appropriate way of imparting that knowledge, while the icing on the cake is the genuine interest in teaching creatively. Creativity leads to passion for the accumulation of knowledge by reading books extensively.

The outcome of this learning is the love that is the basis of all humanity. And Professor Roy’s philosophical rendering of that love means giving up one’s ego, position and experience — a lesson which is invaluable in the education of the young.

Furthermore, the book apprises the lay person about the latest trends in pedagogy and the importance of the affective domain in education.

In the realm of research it brings together many facets of what should be the direction of educational reform in the country. The author has made an imaginative stride in the ongoing campaign to give education its rightful parameters in the context of Pakistan.

Book: Aadhay Adhooray Khwab
Author: Dr Shahid Siddiqui
Published by Jahangir Books
Enterprise: 2009
Page: 176
Price: 250\
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