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Education and the Fight Against Poverty

Any resident of Islamabad must be familiar with or must have at least witnessed the story of Master Ayub – the man who teaches underprivileged children in a park. The park I myself have crossed multiple times on my way to school is associated with him and his school. Over this course, we talked a lot about how conflict impacts education, but there is an inherent conflict present within each society which we tend to overlook – poverty.

Master Ayub’s case is a depiction of how eager children are to learn and progress if they are given access to resources and opportunities. We considered cases where children were deprived of schools due to conflict zones, but despite being conflict-free how many children in areas right next to us do not go to school? While the story of Master Ayub is inspiring, in the video you may note that he was at the rescue scene at the Marriott blast. At that point I could not help but wonder, when so many children’s future and schooling depend on one person and their dedication to teach rather than on an education system, losing that one person would mean losing an entire school.




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I am not sure if I can call Pakistan a failed state. People like Master Ayub add significantly to what should have been provided by the state and it appears that they might be a solution as well. If it is difficult for the state to organize and monitor direct provision of educational resources, people like Master Ayub should be supported in their endeavors. Support networks like this may not be ideal but they definitely add value. Moreover, thank you for discussing poverty as a conflict, In many cases, our privilege may blind us of what counts as conflict. While 'poverty' may not pop up a violent picture in our heads, a major chunk of our population suffers from it everyday.

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I agree wholeheartedly, if our government lacks structure, one way to go about governing is by providing people the support to fill in the gaps where the state should otherwise have been present. You are absolutely correct about privilege "blinding" us. Here is to hoping that we can use our years of education to give us a sense of the bigger picture instead of putting blinders against those who do not have similar experiences to ours.

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Master Ayub's story always makes me emotional. His perseverance is commendable. However, it's for the children I feel the most. It's more than likely that they could be having their education at a public school. The government has subsidized education that could allow them to study; free stationery, uniforms and the like. What kills their opportunity to study is their need to work. Their parents decision that they are better utilized earning for the household. Parents (who are faced with tough circumstances) forced to sell the future of their children for subsistence. It truly is a vicious cycle. For they are condemning their children to the same fate they have tied themselves to. I wish for more people like Master…


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Your last line is something I think about so often. Pakistan is a country that thrives off of its people's philanthropy, for e.g. Abdul Sattar Edhi. In times of crises, it is the people that come to help and persevere because the sad reality is that our country lacks systems and infrastructure. They bear the burden of this lack of infrastructure, and the sad reality is that without their support the country is bound to fall apart.

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The story of Master Ayub is truly an inspirational one. It gives an important message of how one can help the society despite having limited resources.

Since it is true that poverty causes conflict, I would like add upon this. Most of the literature on poverty and conflict up until now has focused on largely descriptive accounts of the impact of conflict on poverty i.e. poverty as a consequence of protracted conflict. No one examines poverty as an underlying cause of violent conflict. Therefore, the state should try to develop its policies not only towards increasing the the supply of education as a means to reduce conflict, it should also focus on eliminating all kinds of poverty.

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Thank you for this insight! I agree, poverty can cure many of the problems we face from the economy, to the people's health and education and even to the country's peace and security.

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I saw this video for another course in my freshman year, and I truly feel this changed me in some way. I think its incredibly insightful of you to define poverty as a form of conflict, and I'd like to expand on it a little. With poverty comes the conflict between your desire to learn versus your accessibility to resources, there is conflict between familial expectations and personal desires, conflict between getting a job to support your family and getting an education to eventually have a better future, and a conflict between the present (immediate but lesser benefits) and the future (delayed but larger benefits). It's extremely true that conflict is more than just that which occurs between two communities…

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You have penned this all down so wonderfully. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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Thank you for sharing Mahnoor! This video explained clearly the issue of poverty and lack of interest of government and authorities in investing in education. Like Master Ayub explained, it has been 30 years since he started this but there has been no help from the government and it was visible that the copies, pencils and the night lamps were all paid for by himself. It's sad to see that in the federal capital of the country, the situation is such. I think while conflict dynamics have adverse effects on children and education, poverty dynamics are as bad too because while conflict may be reduced or eliminated one fine day, poverty becomes embedded and sustained if not treated consciously-which our…

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