Originally appeared on The New International
Sunday, June 29, 2014 Print Edition
By Ayaz Ahmed Siddiqui
The Pakistan American Cultural Centre (PACC) awarded 175 talented male and female youngsters of Lyari, aged between 16 and 25, with graduation certificates on Saturday after their completion of a specially-designed English language programme.
The objective of the six-month merit scholarship, which was organised in collaboration with the Karachi Youth Initiative, was to equip the youths with good communication and leadership skills and enable them to spread the message of peace, love and tolerance, said Madiha Rehman, the director of the programme.
The event began with KYI officials conducting a survey among the graduates to assess the extent of their positive behavioural change.
Bilal Ahmed, one of the graduates, said he was a student at the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University in Lyari, but lacked presentation skills.
“However because of this course, I can now give a presentation with confidence in my class,” he added.
Ahmed plans to teach students who cannot afford education and wants to become a university lecturer one day.
A PACC faculty member told The News that in similar programme earlier, violent students reluctant to take “orders from female teachers” not only did so within five months of coaching but became more involved in domestic chores at home.
“We produce certain literature about harmony and tolerance that we disperse among these kids,” said Farhan Iqbal, the communication officer at the KYI. “The PACC teachers are first given training before they can start tutoring.”
As the ceremony unfolded, Rafiq Tabani, the chief guest and president of the PACC governing board, faculty members, parents and the graduates shared their experiences in the programme with impassioned anecdotes and life lessons.
Abu Talib, a parent, while commending the efforts of the PACC and the KYI told the audience that the media portrayed Lyari as if every child was involved in drug abuse and criminal activities. “My town is a place of national football players and boxing champions, I request the citizens of Karachi not to treat us like stepchildren,” said Talib who is a former boxer.
Rafiq Tabani, after distributing the certificates, congratulated the students and said 50 years ago when the PACC had started its mission to teach English to those who could not afford education, the highest number of applicant were from Lyari.
“Although such initiatives are a step forward to increase the productivity of the youth, much remains in terms of the socio-economic uplift of Lyari,” he noted.
Tabani said that while the PACC and the KYI were also working in other areas of Karachi including Korangi, even recruiting locals as its staff, their scope was limited to cultural activities.