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INTERVIEW WITH Baela Raza Jamil

  • Saleem Shahab
  • Jan, 2018
  • 354
  • Interview

Ms. Baela Raza Jamil is a public policy specialist and currently the Director of Programmes at Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), the Director of the Institute for Professional Learning, a coordinator at the South Asia Forum for Education Development (SAFED) and a Managing Trustee at the Sanjan Nagar Public Education Trust. She is also affiliated with the Technical Advisory Group of the UN Secretary General's Global Initiative on Education

Would you like to throw light upon the foundation of Idara e Taleem O Aagahi and services being rendered there?

The Idara's establishment was an act of  conviction- we wanted to put into action a journey of ideas and practice together with innovations that are public as a social movement.  ITA was created with a name that was deliberated as an identify marker and given by my grandmother "Hima Akhlaque Husain' an educator, linguist , author and early childhood expert in her own right. We believe that education is a right as a comprehensive lifelong transformational process - organic and tangible. We have been through 3 phases so far; of experiments/pilots of core products and services; of scale up and innovations in the 21st century since its establishment in 2000. We have a long way to go in terms of ideas that work on scale, can be sustained and institutionalization of the organization including its leadership, diverse services for education and equity.     We are grateful to many partners who support us and the teams across Pakistan who believe in the vision, work and practices of ITA.

You spend a busy, purposeful and devoted life. What motivated you to do so?

From my childhood (age 4-5) there was a rebellion against our education system that was not allowing us to reach our potential; it was a disabling rather than an enabling system. It was very class driven; there was nothing equalizing about it in a newly found country.  It was not letting go of the past and neither was it embracing the future. This was an important area to invest in. As a child born nine years after partition or in that first decade, I grew up with people determined to change Pakistan - see it as a homeland for which sacrifices had been made. My parents were migrants; they came from East Punjab and UP in India and knew that had been done for a higher ordered reason; so I saw that struggle- passion and aspiration for change. From my toddler days we were on the Mall road in Lahore participating in processions/demonstrations. At age 10 I was politically aware - we had pelted the 'enemy' from the other side of the wall when I was in a convent boarding in Lahore!  We did not like the Tashkent declaration in 1966 and so that was shared that it was anti Pakistan; we did not like the Governor Punjab who had ordered tear gas and firing at students in Multan when one of my relatives a final year medical student was shot and killed! These were grave matters and mobilized us to collect stones from our courtyard/grounds at the boarding -almost 100-200 and throw at the office across for aiding and abetting in an agreement, which was anti Pakistan! Now obviously I was not processing the complicated stuff but was fearless enough to incite and mobilize 'innocent' girls in my boarding to work for a 'cause' in a convent! Well the consequences were dire and that was a calculated risk for a higher ordered reason that justified our actions! By the time I was 15 I was determined to live a life that would be for a 'cause' now what I did not know then but I was already preparing for one! I had then disciplined myself to be independent, determined, hardworking and purposeful. I trained myself to sleep less, I was once again in a boarding school in UK Cobham Hall - in 1971 for 2 years where I trained hard to learn, to sleep less, to educate myself, including appreciating theatre, music, operas, restaurants; learning how to cook, form new relationships, making serious decisions, learning that independence does not mean freedom to do what one wants but making decisions with responsibility; learning to say 'no' backed by convictions; manage my own funds and life! That was a lot of lifeskills learning that one did from 15-17 years of age! I was hurting for many reasons, I was away from family in an alien land that had colonized us and still had remnants of 'imperialism' in my boarding school where I made some fine friends; East Pakistan was separated and Bangladesh was created that same year when I was away-wrongs had been done; my grandfather died! I already felt in exile and tortured; I began to discover the existence of Allah in my being and the need to believe in a Higher Ordered energy that would in turn propel me! Those grooves that I set for myself continued throughout my life-they were self taught and p...

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