The Only Pakistani Who Won RHODE’S SCHOLARSHIP – Khansa Maria:
Do You Know About Pakistan’s only RHODE’S SCHOLARSHIP WINNER for education? In this article, I am writing about a passionate, inspiring, and highly motivated individual flying high in education, KHANSA MARIA.
Khansa is a visually impaired social activist, but her visual impairment is not considered a deterrent. She is the only Pakistani who has won “RHODES SCHOLARSHIP” in 2020. This scholarship lets you study and complete your education at OXFORD UNIVERSITY. She will pursue her Master’s Degree at Oxford. Currently, she is completing her Bachelor’s science of foreign services at Georgetown, Qatar.
I was fortunate enough to chat with her on-call and was thrilled to know her views, perspectives, motivation, and how she wants to pursue life. Let me share some details about the QnA session with all of you.
Please tell our followers/ readers about how your journey started and how Georgetown is treating you so far?
I am an average human being. My childhood was almost the same as every other family. Many people live in a joint family, celebrate every occasion together, and fight with the siblings. The cultural upbringing was also the same as every other household.
I have been in Georgetown for three and a half years now. It has given me a lot of growth, and I have learned a lot. It’s been a journey of exploration and travel of standing up for myself. It’s always going to be a process of making people understand my needs. Therefore, I am more accustomed to Georgetown, and Georgetown is accustomed to me.
What do you think about Special Education Schools in Pakistan?
It’s an earnest question that requires a detailed answer. But let me tell you that we need to move beyond the term “Special Education” because I don’t think there’s any SPECIAL education that one can receive. I think you can get Specialized Training.
I don’t brand it as Special Education. It should be the same for everyone. Everyone needs to understand how education is delivered. It should be accessible for everyone. As far as mainstream schools are concerned, we need to train our teachers.
It is not limited to students with special needs but for every student because teaching has become a profession in our country where a person is encouraged to adapt it if they are perceived as unable to do anything in life. It’s very demeaning to people who work hard, who are exceptional at what they do.
It’s important for us to understand the value of education, the value of teachers, who know how to teach.
We need to reevaluate our understanding and thoughts on education.
What reforms should the government of Pakistan take to ensure the inclusivity of Special Education in mainstream schools?
In terms of practical steps, what our government needs to do is:
The government should ensure that public and private schools admit students with disabilities without any reservations or discrimination.
Provide Legal Protection regarding inclusivity:
For instance, if I applied to a mainstream school and got my admission form rejected because of my disability, I wouldn’t have any legal recourse in the status-quo.
The government needs to pass a law forbidding such discrimination and give recourse to victims.
Say No to segregated schools:
Students should be going to mainstream schools rather than going to segregated special schools. We see so often in our society, where a kid goes to the same school from the age of 2 to 21 without learning any tangible skill and building a future for themselves.
They don’t learn anything. They don’t become part of our society, our environment, or our workforce. They are forced to live in this bubble.
Introducing Shadow Teachers:
We need to change our approach as a society. The government can fund special education teachers who can accompany children with disabilities in mainstream schools (also known as shadow teachers, who are very helpful in well-developed countries like the USA, Canada, Singapore etc.)
What are your views about Vocational Training?
I agree that it’s essential, but honestly, the way we approach the vocational training system in Pakistan is very flawed, unfortunately. Not only for people with disabilities but also for those who don’t have any disability at all. We don’t approach it right. Even our modern medical and engineering training was also initially vocational training.
As I have previously mentioned in my article about how people don’t accept special people, my next question was about acceptance. In case you missed it, you can read my article below:
What do you think about acceptance in our society?
We look at it as a disease. We always try to cure it or eradicate it in some way. We always try to fix people with disabilities. We need to stop doing that. We need to start changing our way of thinking about disabilities, that there’s nothing to be fixed or changed.
However, our society has this trend of thinking, for instance, a person with darker skin tone or a person with short height, thinking that any difference must conform to our ideals of normalcy and perfection. We need to change our perception. We need to realise the power that our words have on somebody. We need to understand the importance of education.
Lastly, Please share your future aspirations with us as you have won Rhode’s scholarship, enabling you to learn at Oxford University?
I hope to complete my education, my degree here, and then go to OXFORD University for my master’s degree in Evidence-Based Policy Intervention and Social Evaluation. Further, I plan to come back to Pakistan and help make some reforms as there’s a lot to be done.
It was my absolute honour to have this call in my life, there is a lot for people like me to learn, to achieve, I am having an immense amount of pride while writing this article that such great talent exists in our country, such great minds, which are making our nation proud. Thank you so much, Khansa, for having a chat with Thehubdaily. We wish you all the luck and a fantastic journey at Oxford.
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