Friday, November 7, 2008

The National Outreach Programme

I was among the fortunate few to have attended one of the most prestigious grad schools in the country. I was also among the unfortunate few to have witnessed the "uprisings" of the spoilt brats, meandering the halls of the campus. Money well spent?

Come to the other side of the financial divide.

The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), in tradition of all well-reputed institutions, developed a National Outreach Programme. What this essentially does is that it encourages and facilitates bright students from the underprivileged areas of Pakistan to apply for admission, and in case of induction, offers them full financial assistance. I had the chance of working with two such boys: one from Peshawar and the other from Quetta. We were a team of 5, assisting a professor with a class of around 300. Since I was the only one who had graduated, they would keep calling me "central command". I lived in glory, thinking I was something special. I was so wrong. Once the course ended, we remained in touch for sometime, but the association proved to be a fleeting one.

Thanks to social networking sites like Facebook, I got back in touch with them, only to find my younger, much brighter colleagues, touching the skies. The boy from Peshawar is currently a grad student in Public Administration at Columbia University, and the one from Quetta is studying International Development at Harvard University. Tears to the eyes? And now, I ask you again, money well spent?

How much ingenuity is going wasted in our country?
  • Our GDP per capita, according to the CIA, was US$2400 in 2007.
  • Income disparity is very, very high.
  • The typical one year's Masters fee at Harvard costs around US$35,000, and this does not include registration, material, boarding and lodging expenses.
We have a lot of spoilt brats wasting money invested in them; and we have so many humbled children, who have the potential, but who cannot even afford to dream. Think about it. 

And now for some trivia. Barack Hussein Obama Sr. was imported to a university in Hawaii, from Kenya, on American donations. That was where he met his second wife. And look what that union produced! Barack Hussein Obama, the president.

"Barry", that "skinny guy with a funny name" (as he recalls himself), went on to study at both Columbia and Harvard.

Now put our two lads together. Moral of the story: put your money at the right place, and you'll make history, over and over again. Cheers!

Copyright (c) 2008 Saadia Malik

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