. Bob responds to the controversy
. USAID's page about education reforms in PK
. Congressional Research Service Report (CSR) on education reforms in PK]
My last post was about a poem that is now part of the 11th Year curriculum for Pakistani students - the first letter of each verse of the poem reads the name of the US President
After a ruckus was raised in the Pakistani newspapers, the Education Ministry has announced that it will withdraw the poem from the textbook from next year - of course, no heads will roll, "it was an honest mistake", "our intentions were clean" - these are the words we will hear - a simple google search for one verse of the poem would have clarified the source - but who uses computers in the Ministry? They are certainly nothing more than decoration pieces for them
Of course, the real reason is that the poem must have had the stamp of approval of the Education Ministry and now lowly book editor would dare to raise his voice, even if he could
For those unaware of this, the US government is funnelling in money to "help improve" Pakistani education currculum - the Pakistani government (and all its predecessors) being more loyal than the king, fall head over heels to appease the Americans whenever they can and hence this poem
I imagine it went something like this in the funding agency's office:
Some guy in USAID: Dude, let's play a trick on these Pakis and send them this poem - bet you 10 bucks they will publish it without reading it
Another guy in USAID: Bet you 20 bucks they will publish it even after they read it
It must be said that USAID is doing a lot for education in the country - even the MBA programs in our top business schools are fully funded (tuition & living expenses) - see the info on financial aid at LUMS
I emailed the gentleman who wrote the poem, probably in 2003 - he was kind enough to write back in a very positive way - I really appreciate him for doing this - the response is produced below:
If I'm correct in assuming that your blog is Sami's Place, I must say
it's a very nice blog. You keep it updated much better than I do mine.
I do respect your feelings in the "Shameful" post. I don't recall
authorizing the reprint in the Pakistani educational textbook. To be
fair, I sometimes e-mail permission for limited copying without paying
too much attention to details, so I'm not sure.
While I still admire GWB, I have learned since I wrote "The Leader"
that he certainly has some shortcomings in the leadership role. The
vertical spelling of the president's name is, of course, intentional.
Even at the time I published it, along with the questions on the
worksheet, there were included these notes to the teacher in the
Best answered in discussion format:
1. Student should refer to text when putting a characteristic in his own
2.Answers may vary.
3. There is a clue in addition to inference: The name is spelled out
down the left column. Respect any opinion if student backs it with a
reason or reasons.
4. Answers may vary.
In other words, no brainwashing intended!
Thanks for writing and good luck with your blog.
Please note the the author does not hide the fact that the name of George W Bush is hidden in the poem (link)