A plea.

After laboring through 14 years of studies  from kindergarten through grade twelve , the Pakistani teenager is confronted with the monster known as  entry tests  , success in which, is to be rewarded by admission to an  engineering or a medical  college . Parents and teachers make it a point to hammer in the importance of these tests . We are repeatedly told  about the tough competition we will have to face if we are to get into any one professional college.We are given examples of  siblings or  cousins or friends  who have made it to prestigious colleges and the story goes on. What we are not told is, that it is not the only option we are left with or that if we fail to get in, the world does not end there.
 As the time for the tests  draws  close, we are under intense stress about the results: shall we , or shall we not make it! The general belief is that good luck as well as hard work  are the basic requirements.

In the months preceding the  tests we reinforce concepts, stockpile shortcuts and key points for solving the MCQS, trying to train ourselves to work within the most stringent of time checks. Very much like the saying “ only the wearer knows where shoe pinches”, it is only we who slog through the preparation ,who are aware of all that it takes to go through the tension. Here it is important to know that there may be quite a  few   among us with a greater aptitude  for the  arts and literature  as compared to the science subjects. Sadly, burdened by filial duty and feeling honour bound to stand up to parental expectations, nobody at that age has the courage to  express his own preference. The fact is that  they have already spent the past year listening to the ambitions of parents who long to see their sons and daughters become  doctors or engineer like the children of their relatives . In the process, we are made scapegoats .


Lining up for the entrance test candidates are very conscience that compared to the large number of prospective entrants, there are very few seats available . As the bell rings to announce the start of the test, candidates respond according to their individual natures. There are some who will make a good start while others will panic. The result is that many  excellent students fail to apply the knowledge they have while others with lesser potential will perform very well. So there is no guarantee of who will get into what department when the result is announced .  There will be some who will be jubiliant while others will be   because they could not make it to the discipline they had aspired to. There will be quite a few who will be forced to accept the result like a bitter pill.


So what do we make of the situation? The bottom line is that the results of entrance tests to professional colleges are no yardstick by which to measure a student’s intelligence or efforts.

The purpose of writing this article is to draw the attention of ambitious parents and prospective professionals  to the fact that those among us  who did not make it,  are no less intelligent  then those who did. Parents need to understand that these tests are no criterion by which  to define anybody’s potential. Also that what works for one may not necessarily  work for other because every individual has his peculiar talent  and diversity is the name of the game in this world.


If I could speak for the children who do not make it to the professional colleges I would say something like this:  ” We are sorry for disappointing you  but please give us your blessings to work in the field we really are good at. If you allow us to study the subjects of our choice and give us the freedom, who knows  how many Guljees or Hanifs are lurking in the shadows?”


10 responses to “A plea.

  1. zatty who is this Hanif mentioned in your influential write-up!
    and your article is no doubt appreciable and i think now most of the parents and people are aware of this theme but still awareness is required mostly in case of media.This is a field which is considered to be more dangerous to join but i wanna say “never lose hope and be determined whatever you wanna do.”

  2. Hi Zahid,

    How is it going? Is this about you or people you know. Family expectations can be really difficult to deal with, especially when you know it’s not the direction you will be happy taking.


    • hey redjim. how are you?I am not doing very good. It is about me and many other. you see at times i want to follow my instinct and also have to keep family expectations. I am doing electrical engineering from a top university of pakistan but i guess i am more inclined for anthropolgy and sociology.

      • Take your engineering in a new direction. Challenge yourself, combine the two or three disciplines. See what can be done. Cultures are so different that It is hard for me to know what it is like to have such pressure to conform. I was an engineer for 20yrs. Now I am renovating houses, will finish one in France soon and then we have one in England to start on. My adventures, I’m very lucky to do what I do and have the time to write as well.

        It must be difficult to find balance in what you do so I hope it goes well whatever you choose.


      • lucky you. lets keep the fingres crossed that things turn out to be good. i am very fond of travelling, going beyond borders and meeting people with an intention to spread pluralism.

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