Abu Dhabi, UAE: The longest-serving Pakistani teacher in Abu Dhabi has criticised parents who do not want their children to study in her country’s curriculum schools.
Farazana Rashid, who works at Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Arab Pakistan School, said this was one of the major reasons behind a growing identity crisis among Pakistani children in the UAE.
“They have become a confused generation and I have seen this in my three decades of teaching,” Ms Rashid said.
She said that when parents ridiculed their home country and rarely took their children back to visit it became very difficult for the child to feel confident about their identity.
“If the home country is facing any problem, these children should be groomed in such a manner that they become part of the solution rather than disconnecting themselves with their original identity,” Ms Rashid said.
She has dedicated more than 32 years of her life to generations born and raised in the UAE.
Ms Rashid arrived in the UAE in 1980 and has taught more than 20,000 children, aged between 9 and 1. She says she has seen a worrying trend in the Pakistani community over thee years.
“Until the time Pakistani elites were sending their kids to study alongside the not-so-privileged children, there was positive competition among the children,” she said.
“The interaction raised the overall performance of children in the class.”
But Ms Rashid said that since the late 1990s, when companies started giving employees education allowance to its staff, parents began moving their children to international-curriculum schools and community schools were left with those who could not afford expensive schools.
“It is sad but the truth is, unlike other communities, the Pakistani community generally doesn’t respect its education system,” she said. “Those who are better off will never send their children to Pakistani education providers.”
Ms Rashid is proud of the efforts made by teachers in these schools. Their students may come from homes with little education but their parents are committed to providing it for their children.
“I have seen so many illiterate mothers religiously attending parent-teacher meetings and showing keenness to know about their children’s performance,” she said.
She is also satisfied with the overall performance of the school’s students, claiming pupils there perform as well as any other schoolchildren in the UAE.
Ms Rashid is particularly proud of her female pupils’ performances during her long stint as a teacher.
“There was a time when many girls used to leave education because of family pressure and early marriages,” she said. “But in the past few years, I have seen a major change. Now the average number of career-orientated girls has increased incredibly.
“They are not only pursuing their careers in the UAE but also in different parts of the world.”
Ameera Siddiqui is one of Ms Rashid’s past pupils. She is successfully pursuing her career in the software industry in Abu Dhabi.
Ms Siddiqui endorses her teacher’s view and says that rich Pakistani families never want their child to study alongside those from families less well off.
“That is why my generation, which is born and brought up here, battles a complex and is conscious of the class divide,” she said.
“Even though we are all from the same roots, we don’t want to accept each other’s existence.”
Dr Javaid Laghari, the former chairman of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, said: “Those students who perform well in an international curriculum are widely accepted for admission, sometimes with full scholarship, in the leading universities of the world.
“The only restraining factor that makes the international curriculum beyond the reach of the average parent is the cost, as it tends to be more expensive than the local one.”
© The National