France can overturn its burkini ban, but not the damage it has done

The burkini ban robs Muslim women of their agency to wear what they want as well as their agency to openly practice their faith. — AFP
The burkini ban robs Muslim women of their agency to wear what they want as well as their agency to openly practice their faith. — AFP

The expectation to be modest is everywhere in Karachi, where I spent the first 18 years of my life before leaving to begin university in America.

I never wore shorts — even when summer temperatures would scrape past 45° Celsius; I would always carry a shawl to drape over my shoulders if I left the house wearing a sleeveless top; and, sometimes, I was told not to wear a seat belt because of the way it provocatively clenched my chest.

These unspoken rules were shields against the male gaze. But they weren’t enforced — either by the mosque or the state. To this day, the most frequent and ignorant question I get asked about Pakistan is: “Do you have to wear a hijab when you’re there?” I can count on my fingertips the number of times I covered my head growing up, and even then it was always just a rectangle of fabric that I floated over my head halo-like before knotting it jauntily at the neck.

Still, I resented the way my body was policed and longed to live in a city that would allow me to unleash it. But even now, after living first in the US and now in England for over six years, wearing a short skirt in public in these other countries feels like a radical act.

Take a look: Muslim women say burkini debate ‘absurd’

For the longest time, dressing myself as I wanted, without compromise, was a reiteration of my own agency.

I took it as a cue that I could do anything, that I could be anyone. Some caveats to this newfound freedom came immediately: The male gaze — as evidenced by unwelcome catcalls — thrives on the streets of New York and London just as it does on those of Karachi.

Other caveats took longer. Donald Trump called for Muslims to be banned from entering the United States. In the wake of Brexit, reports of racism spiked.

One morning, waiting for a coffee, I had to clear my throat twice before being looked at, even though I was at the front of the line. I took my espresso to go and checked my phone on the way out.

The news was awash with a single photo: A woman sitting up on a stony beach, pulling a sky-blue tunic over her head, surrounded by armed police officers.

Microaggressions are part and parcel of being a person of colour in the developed, “Western” world. But the minute these turn into major aggressions backed by secular law is when things become violently unacceptable. The woman who was forced to strip against her will was asked to do so because of a ban on the burkini (a full-body swimsuit favoured by Muslim women) issued in over a dozen French towns.

France’s highest administrative court has since overturnedthe ban in one of these towns, but for me, the damage has already been done.

The burkini ban robs Muslim women of their agency to wear what they want as well as their agency to openly practice their faith. It also robs all Muslims of the freedom to define their faith on their own terms.

The mayor of Cannes, one of the French towns that issued the ban, calledthe burkini “the uniform of extremist Islamism”. Conflating Islam with extremism has become ubiquitous — and it’s a dangerous misunderstanding to perpetuate not only because it’s the farthest thing from the truth, but because it creates a culture where fearing Muslims, and hence discriminating against them, is legitimised.

See: Burkini brouhaha

Picture yourself on the beach: fully-covered, head-wrapped, skin bronze. Surrounded by women in bikinis, skin white. It takes courage to be different — and when that difference is punished, it can sandpaper a flaring spirit down to a stub. Last week, a woman at a beach in Cannes was asked toremove her headscarf. Apparently, when she refused, strangers shouted at her to go home.

It gets tiring to constantly having to justify your right to stand on the ground under your feet — the same way it gets tiring to endlessly fight for your right to wear what you want.

By leaving Karachi, I thought I was swapping one battle for another: That of a woman for that of an immigrant. But France’s burkini ban proved me wrong. Because for Muslim women, there aren’t choices when it comes to battles. Apparently, we have to fight them all, everywhere.

At first, I was heartened by the international outcry against the ban: The cacophony of outraged voices of every colour, from many countries, highlighted that unique battles need not be fought alone. But then I saw this tweet go viral.

Two images — the recent photo of the woman in the sky-blue tunic mid-strip surrounded by armed officers, next to a decades-old black-and-white one of an officer measuring the length of a woman’s swimsuit.

“This suit is too big. This suit is too small. When will it be OK for women to wear what they want?”

How is the struggle of Muslim women now comparable to the struggle of a white woman then? The burkini ban attacked faith, race, nationality, and gender all at once. By focusing on gender alone, much of the discourse around the ban missed out on the intersectional complexities — and that left me feeling isolated all over again.

I’ve always loved the ocean — its salt and spray and sand. Growing up, I’d wear my swimsuit to the beach, underneath leggings and an oversized t-shirt. These would get soaked in the waves and catch small stones in their folds. While dragging myself in and out of the surf, I resented how heavy I felt; how I’d look up to see every woman around me similarly waterlogged.

In the end, which beach would I rather be on? The one where every woman is forced to cover herself or the one where one woman is forced not to?

It doesn’t feel like a choice to me. But, at the end of the day, I’d still pick solidarity over ostracisation.

Wouldn’t you?


Education In Pakistan

Education in Pakistan is overseen by the Federal Ministry of Education and the provincial governments, whereas the federal government mostly assists in curriculum development, accreditation and in the financing of research and development. Article 25-A of Constitution of Pakistan obligates the state to provide free and compulsory quality education to children of the age group 3 to 16 years. “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such a manner as may be determined by law”.[3]

The education system in Pakistan is generally divided into six levels: Preschool (for the age from 3 to 5 years); primary (grades one through five); middle (grades six through eight); high (grades nine and ten, leading to the Secondary School Certificate or SSC);intermediate (grades eleven and twelve, leading to a Higher Secondary (School) Certificate or HSC); and university programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees.[4]

The literacy rate ranges from 96% in Islamabad to 28% in the Kohlu District.[5] Between 2000 and 2004, Pakistanis in the age group 55–64 had a literacy rate of almost 38%, those ages 45–54 had a literacy rate of nearly 46%, those 25–34 had a literacy rate of 57%, and those ages 15–24 had a literacy rate of 72%.[6] Literacy rates vary regionally, particularly by sex. In tribal areas female literacy is 9.5%.[7] Moreover, English is fast spreading in Pakistan, with more than 92 million Pakistanis (49% of the population) having a command over the English language,[8] which makes it the third largest English-speaking nation in the world and the second largest in Asia. On top of that, Pakistan produces about 445,000 university graduates and 10,000 computer science graduates per year.[9]Despite these statistics, Pakistan still has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world[10] and the second largest out of school population (5.1 million children) after Nigeria.

Primary education[edit]

Only 87% of Pakistani children finish primary school education.[12] The standard national system of education is mainly inspired from theBritish system. Pre-school education is designed for 3–5 years old and usually consists of three stages: Play Group, Nursery andKindergarten (also called ‘KG’ or ‘Prep’). After pre-school education, students go through junior school from grades 1 to 5. This is followed by middle school from grades 6 to 8. At middle school, single-sex education is usually preferred by the community, but co-education is also common in urban cities. The curriculum is usually subject to the institution. The eight commonly examined disciplines are Urdu,English, mathematics, arts, science, social studies, Islamic studies and sometimes computer studies (subject to availability of a computer laboratory). Provincial and regional languages such as Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto and others may be taught in their respective provinces, particularly in language-medium schools. Some institutes give instruction in foreign languages such as Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Frenchand Chinese. The language of instruction depends on the nature of the institution itself, whether it is an English-medium school or an Urdu-medium school.

As of 2009, Pakistan faces a net primary school attendance rate for both sexes of 66 percent: a figure below estimated world average of 90 percent.[13]

Pakistan’s poor performance in the education sector is mainly caused by the low level of public investment. Public expenditure on education has been 2.2 percent of GNP in recent years, a marginal increase from 2 percent before 1984-85. In addition, the allocation of government funds is skewed towards higher education, allowing the upper income class to reap majority of the benefits of public subsidy on education. Lower education institutes such as primary schools suffer under such conditions as the lower income classes are unable to enjoy subsidies and quality education. As a result, Pakistan has one of the lowest rates of literacy in the world and the lowest among countries of comparative resources and socio-economic situations.[14]

Secondary education in Pakistan begins from grade 9 and lasts for four years. After end of each of the school years, students are required to pass a national examination administered by a regional Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (or BISE).

Upon completion of grade 9, students are expected to take a standardised test in each of the first parts of their academic subjects. They again give these tests of the second parts of the same courses at the end of grade 10. Upon successful completion of these examinations, they are awarded a Secondary School Certificate (or SSC). This is locally termed as ‘matriculation certificate‘ or ‘matric’ for short. The curriculum usually includes a combination of eight courses including electives (such as Biology, Chemistry, Computer and Physics) as well as compulsory subjects (such as Mathematics, English, Urdu, Islamic studies and Pakistan Studies).

Students then enter an intermediate college and complete grades 11 and 12. Upon completion of each of the two grades, they again take standardised tests in their academic subjects. Upon successful completion of these examinations, students are awarded the Higher Secondary (School) Certificate (or HSC). This level of education is also called the FSc/FA/ICS or ‘intermediate’. There are many streams students can choose for their 11 and 12 grades, such as pre-medical, pre-engineering, humanities (or social sciences), computer science and commerce. Each stream consists of three electives and as well as three compulsory subjects of English, Urdu, Islamiat (grade 11 only) and Pakistani Studies (grade 12 only).

Alternative qualifications in Pakistan are available but are maintained by other examination boards instead of BISE. Most common alternative is the General Certificate of Education (or GCE), where SSC and HSC are replaced by Ordinary Level (or O Level) and Advanced Level (or A Level) respectively. Other qualifications include IGCSE which replaces SSC. GCE and GCSE O Level, IGCSE and GCE AS/A Level are managed by British examination boards of CIE of the Cambridge Assessment and/or Edexcel International of the Pearson PLC. Generally, 8-10 courses are selected by students at GCE O Levels and 3-5 at GCE A Levels.

Advanced Placement (or AP) is an alternative option but much less common than GCE or IGCSE. This replaces the secondary school education as ‘High School Education’ instead. AP exams are monitored by a North American examination board, College Board, and can only be given under supervision of centers which are registered with the College Board, unlike GCE O/AS/A Level and IGCSE which can be given privately.

There is another type of education in Pakistan which is called “Technical Education”, gathering technical and vocational Education. The vocational curriculum starts at grade 5 and ends on grade 10.[15] Three boards, Punjab Board of Technical Education, NWFP Board of Technical Education, and Sindh Board of Technical Education, provide facilities of technical education. PBTE (Punjab Board of Technical Education) offering Matric tac. and D.A.E. (Diploma of Associate Engineering) in technologies like Civil, Chemical, Architecture, Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, Computer Sciences and many more technologies. This is three years program and combines Physics, Chemistry, Islamic study, Pakistan Study and other more than 25 books related to their Technology. After matric and then three years diploma is equal to 12th grade, and diploma holder iscalled Associate Engineer. Either they can join their respective field or can take admission in B.Tech. or BE in their related technology after D.A.E.

Tertiary education[edit]

The University of the Punjab, established 1882 in Lahore, is the oldest university of Pakistan.

According to the UNESCO’s 2009 Global Education Digest, 6% of Pakistanis (9% of men and 3.5% of women) were university graduates as of 2007.[16] Pakistan plans to increase this figure to 10% by 2015 and subsequently to 15% by 2020.[17] There is also a great deal of variety between age cohorts. Less than 6% of those in the age cohort 55-64 have a degree, compared to 8% in the 45-54 age cohort, 11% in the 35-44 age cohort and 16% in the age cohort 25-34.[16]

GIK Institute from the Clock Tower

Quaid-i-Azam University entrance

After earning their HSC, students may study in a professional college for Bachelor’s degree courses such as engineering (B.Engg/BS Engg.), B.Tech Hons/BS Engg.Tech medicine (MBBS), dentistry (BDS), veterinary medicine (DVM), law (LLB), architecture (B.Arch),pharmacy (Pharm-D) and nursing (B.Nurs). These courses require four or five years of study. There are some councils and boards that will handle all the education matters in these cases; they are the PMDC, Pakistan pharmacy council and Pakistan nursing council. Students can also attend a university for Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) or Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree courses. These all are the courses that are done in Pakistan and are really common. These days doctor of pharmacy is also gaining much reputation. The pharmacy council of Pakistan is doing huge struggle to make the pharmacy education better. Polytechnics and colleges of technology offers technical education.[15]

There are two types of Bachelor courses in Pakistan: Pass or Honors. Pass degree requires two years of study and students normally read three optional subjects (such as Chemistry or Economics) in addition to almost equal number of compulsory subjects (such asEnglish and Pakistan Studies). Honours degree requires three or four years of study, and students normally specialize in a chosen field of study, such as Biochemistry (BSc Hons. Biochemistry).

Pass Bachelors is now slowly being phased out for Honours throughout the country.[citation needed]

COMSATS Institute of Information Technology is the Pakistan’s #1 ranked university in COMPUTERS & IT Sector by HEC2012 & HEC2013

Quaternary education[edit]

Most of Master’s degree programs require two years education. Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is available in most of the subjects and can be undertaken after doing Masters. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) education is available in selected areas and is usually pursued after earning a MPhil degree. Students pursuing MPhil or PhD degrees must choose a specific field and a university that is doing research work in that field. MPhil and PhD education in Pakistan requires a minimum of two years of study.

Non formal and informal education[edit]

Out of the formal system, the public sectors runs numerous schools and training centres, most being vocational-oriented. Among those institutions can be found vocational schools, technical training centres and agriculture and vocational training centres. An apprenticechip system is also framed by the Pakistanese State.[15] Informal education is also important in Pakistan and regroups mostly school-leavers and low-skilled individuals, who are trained under the supervision of a senior craftsman.[15]

Gender disparity[edit]

In Pakistan, gender discrimination in education occurs amongst the poorest households but is non-existent amongst rich households.[11]Only 18% of Pakistani women have received 10 years or more of schooling.[11] Among other criticisms the Pakistani education system faces is the gender disparity in enrollment levels. However, in recent years some progress has been made in trying to fix this problem. In 1990-91, the female to male ratio (F/M ratio) of enrollment was 0.47 for primary level of education. It reached to 0.74 in 1999-2000, showing the F/M ratio has improved by 57.44% within the decade. For the middle level of education it was 0.42 in the start of decade and increased to 0.68 by the end of decade, so it has improved almost 62%. In both cases the gender disparity is decreased but relatively more rapidly at middle level.[18]

The gender disparity in enrollment at secondary level of education was 0.4 in 1990-91 and 0.67 in 1999-2000, showing that the disparity decreased by 67.5% in the decade. At the college level it was 0.50 in 1990-91 and reached 0.81 in 1999-2000, showing that the disparity decreased by 64%. The gender disparity has decreased comparatively rapidly at secondary school.[18]

The gender disparity is affected by the Taliban enforcement of a complete ban on female education in the Swat district, as reported in a January 21, 2009 issue of the Pakistan daily newspaper The News. Some 400 private schools enrolling 40,000 girls have been shut down. At least 10 girls’ schools that tried to open after the January 15, 2009 deadline by the Taliban were blown up by the militants in the town of Mingora, the headquarters of the Swat district.[19] “More than 170 schools have been bombed or torched, along with other government-owned buildings.”[19]

There is great difference in the rates of enrollment of boys, as compared to girls in Pakistan. According to UNESCO figures, primary school enrolment for girls stand at 60 per cent as compared to 84 percent for boys. The secondary school enrolment rate stands at a lower rate of 32 percent for females and 46 per cent males. Regular school attendance for female students is estimated at 41 per cent while that for male students is 50 per cent.[13]

Qualitative dimension[edit]

In Pakistan, the quality of education has a declining trend. Shortage of teachers and poorly equipped laboratories have resulted in the out-dated curriculum that has little relevance to present day needs.[14]


Abdus Salam[edit]

University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore

Main article: Abdus Salam

Abdus Salam was a Pakistani theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in physics for his work on the electroweak unification of the electromagnetic and weak forces. Salam, Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg shared the 1979 Nobel prize for this work. Salam holds the distinction of being the first Pakistani to receive the Nobel Prize in any field. Salam heavily contributed to the rise of Pakistani physics to thePhysics community in the world.[20][21]

Ayub Ommaya[edit]

Ayub Ommaya was a Pakistani neurosurgeon who heavily contributed to his field. Over 150 research papers have been attributed to him. He also invented the Ommaya Reservoir medical procedure. It is a system of delivery of medical drugs for treatment of patients with brain tumours.


Mahbub-ul-Haq was a Pakistani economist who along with Indian economist Amartya Sen developed the Human Development Index (HDI), the modern international standard for measuring and rating human development.


Atta-ur-Rehman is a Pakistani scientist known for his work in the field of natural product chemistry. He has over 935 research papers attributed to him.



Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but learners may also educate themselves.[1] Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. The methodology of teaching is called pedagogy.

Education is commonly divided formally into such stages as preschool or kindergarten, primary school, secondary school and thencollege, university, or apprenticeship.

A right to education has been recognized by some governments, including at the global level: Article 13 of the United Nations‘ 1966   International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes a universal right to education.[2] In most regions education is

compulsory up to a certain age.