I have been missing in action. I have my reasons. But after nursing a broken heart in vain, I am back with a vengeance.
The HEC (you can guess what it stands for besides the Higher Education Commission) has taken a dump on me. Being an educator and coordinator for education is gratifying at best but there are dark and evil forces that discourage education (higher or otherwise) at work in the dim backstage of academia that break my heart.
The reason I am ranting is personal. Before I begin, it is important I think to explain why it matters so much to get things done and to do them right. The future of an entire race of Pakistanis is at stake here. I actually believe that. In all my naive honesty, I could swear by this belief. Integrity is an important word here. We need it more than anything. We need it to change the past, the present and the future.
So, to maintain a position where I can actually make a small difference and enforce a system that actually educates people, I require to prove that I am indeed educated myself. I have been in school most of my life and when I wasn’t, I was teaching school. I am an academic at heart and my soul soars when I learn something and pass it on. All that said and done, the proof is in a form of documents. Some of these documents are required to be of a foreign nature by the HEC to improve the standards of education in Pakistan. However, the Higher Education Commission then requires a local equivalence of the foreign degrees. This is redundant but I doubt the people who work there can even spell redundant so lets not burden them with the word. Besides this absurdity, they also count how many years you have spent in school and add them up to give you an equivalence for a Bachelors or Masters degree. Absurd. And they check up on you and look at your student visas in your passports. They require I20s where appropriate and other documents some people might have thrown away since they returned to Pakistan. Basically, they are ridiculous.
So, I had to subject myself to humiliation while illiterate people stared at my documents and stroked their bloated egos while they condescended and patronized me and kept trying to get me to grease their palms in a convoluted way that I could not understand at that time. I have never greased a palm in my life so I was truly at a loss. And how would you grease a palm anyway? Do you throw money at them, pass it under the table into their sweaty palms or simply just leave it on the table? I have no idea, really.
Ofcourse I paid an enormous fee at the cash counter for them to even process my application so I couldn’t have greased any palm even if I wanted. My wallet was completely empty.
Anyway, they eventually sent me a letter home that told me that I am equivalent to a undergraduate degree. They failed to see that I have TWO undergraduate degrees and ONE graduate degree. I suppose they just couldn’t read. And ofcourse I do not know anyone important. No government connections. No green number plates. I am a nobody.
Ofcourse I get to keep my job but I stay a nobody without this equivalence. I can go no further. I cannot really change anything. I envied a rickshaw driver today – whatever education he had or didn’t have – because it wouldn’t matter, you see. Those patronizing, condescending illiterates would never humiliate him. He’s lucky. He’s free.
My heart is broken. I cleaned vomit from floors, served tables and washed dishes for my education abroad. Before that, I fought like a madwoman to even go to art school, and tutored little brats to pay for my materials. And worst of all, I endured 4 years of business school with a heavy heart just for my parents and out of sadistic curiosity. How could they disregard my mad passion to be educated? Of course, they don’t care. Why would they? I have come to the conclusion that they discourage education altogether.
I am too honest and naive for this. But I don’t think I’ll give up too easy. They can bring it on, I say. The HEC can take a dump in my face, but someday I’ll bite them in the ass.