The Talk: Ahmed Saya on life, education and students

April 4, 2019 1:39 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Assalamo Alaikum viewers!

We have been so lucky today that Sir Ahmed Saya has granted us some time.  Sir Ahmed Saya is a well-known personality for everyone especially since he became familiar after Cambridge awarded him the award for “Most Dedicated Teacher”.  He is not only recognized in Pakistan but he is the personality of International repute. We have been lucky enough to get some of his precious time so that we can get to know him closely as well as share some useful tips for our viewers for their benefit.  

Team ecademus: There have been so many interviews of your good-self aired on the Media.

Ahmed Saya:   Oh Yes! There have been repeated questions like; how are you feeling, what’s up next, how it became possible to get you this award?  I really don’t know what I have done, but this question should be asked to my students. I find this question the weirdest one that: what specialty you do possess which other’s don’t have?  I always reply to that question, no – nothing special! Allah Talah has been exceptionally kind enough. Everybody is trying hard then why should I take the credit of anything. No, never!   Even Media has asked me things like; what are your views about Pulwama mishap? I’d think to myself how am I supposed to know things like that and why India did this? Why are you asking me? (chuckles)

So let’s begin:

Team ecademus: Sir, Can you please tell us about the brief background of Cambridge Award you have earned for “The Most Dedicated Teacher”?  

I will not ask you about your feelings or how did you get it but I would like to know the criteria on which this Award is granted.  I am delighted to share with you that despite some negativity on certain issues from Pakistan media news, your success story has been highlighted with a bright positive note on all local as well as International media.  That has portrayed a positive image internationally thus a great success of our whole nation and that is just because of you Sir. On this great achievement, our Team of ecademus is thankful to you and pay tribute to you.

Ahmed Saya: Alhamdulillah, Allah Tala has been very kind and gracious to me.  

In my opinion, all teachers are dedicated and they try to impart education devotedly and it is very hard to single out any one of them who puts less effort into this connection.   It is so nice of my students who recognized my efforts and nominated me for this Award from Cambridge University Press. It is the first ever Award initiated by Cambridge University who asked their students across the world to nominate the best-dedicated teacher.

 In this interesting contest, 4000 different teachers were nominated from 75 countries. From those 4000 teachers, a panel of judges further shortlisted 50 most dedicated teachers.

After further scrutinizing the list, they identified top 6 teachers from throughout the world and published supporting story for each of them asking to vote from the students as to which they consider the World’s Best Dedicated Teacher.

  Alhamdulillah, after this whole process, I got 80% of the votes in my favor and so I was chosen as the World’s Most Dedicated Teacher. It is delighting for me that through my efforts, Pakistan has internationally been awarded a good name and recognized in the field of education which conveyed a very positive message to the world community that best standard education is imparted to Pakistani students and as a nation, Pakistani students have the ability to surpass the ensuing challenges.  Also, Pakistani students do respect their teachers who are their role models.

When I got the opportunity to represent Pakistan, the International community learned that Pakistani students have the ability to excel in their fields if the right opportunity is given to them.

 There are hindrances and lack of opportunities standing in the progressing path of Pakistani students otherwise time has proven that whenever got the opportunity they have shown their mettle.

Alhamdulillah Allah has granted me this opportunity to enlighten the name of Pakistan globally.  The Pakistani nation has great potential and a lot of talented people are always there

3.Team ecademus: Sir, Will you please share with us more about yourself, how was your educational background and how you opted for the teaching profession?

Ahmed Saya: Assalamo Alaikum;  I started teaching as early as I was in 9th Grade.  First I used to travel on a bicycle to reach my students at various different places.  I always dreamed to become a self-made person by earning and affording my own academic expenses.  In this connection, I always endeavored to acquire anything which could make me self-sustainable as well as help me excel in my studies.  Keeping in view this objective, I used to help my fellow students in their studies who motivated me a lot that they were able to easily understand the basic concepts as a result of the knowledge I had imparted to them.  

To counter-check my capabilities, I started teaching in different places.  Allah Talah has so graciously helped me achieve my goals in a way that a journey which started on a bicycle has put me up to this level now.  Then I did my “O” Level and then “A” Level. Afterward, I accomplished ACCA and then BSc. (Hons.) in Applied Accounting & Mathematics from Brookes University.   I did my Masters from CBM and now looking forward to Ph.D. an ongoing process and I wish to continue studying and imparting education to others. All my achievements co-exist with my personal education.  

4.Team ecademus: When we talk about values, we mean to say that in your opinion, what are the values of a good teacher and also of a good student?  Teaching is such a noble cause for which the Holy Prophet (SAAW) had shown his pride in being a Teacher. Nonetheless, the Holy Prophet (SAAW) had been in various trades like a business but he only expressed his pride in being a Teacher.  We also observe that in our religious Islam, a lot of emphases has been given on none other than Education (Knowledge) and its importance and there are hundreds of Ahadeeth in support of it. My question is, both the elements are present in Knowledge, i.e. The Trainer and the Learner; and a person possessing both the qualities is called a good Teacher.  On these parameters, I would request you to please explain to us the values of a good Teacher and a good Student.

Ahmed Saya: Look, we cannot confine the responsibilities of an Educationist within the limits of the classroom only.   To impart knowledge and to finish their curriculum in time is only one part of their responsibility. Another part of their responsibility is to train them for good deeds and help them build good character and moral values.  A good teacher is responsible to transform his students into good human beings of highly reputable and ethically disciplined character so that they should know what is wrong and what is right. With proper guidance of the teacher, their minds should be made very clear about their future goals.  Students must be taught about patriotism and about the expectations of their beloved country from them. Their and strong deeds must be a mirror image of their teacher and reveal the quality of the knowledge imparted to them.

Apart from the execution of their courses within the time frame, it is mandatory to teach the students how to groom themselves and go forth in their future path.  A brilliant student always pays due respect to his teachers and listens to his teacher’s advice for the betterment of his life. A good student always gives respect to the teachers like parents as he would realize in his life that parents and teachers both are selfless, always keep trying for the betterment of their future.   Teachers and Parents are those who always feel pride and are cherished upon the achievement of their children.

Teachers should also keep in mind that they are the role model for their students so their sayings and doings must be accurate and without any conflict.  The overall attitude of teachers leave a deep impact on their students as if they teach the lesson of honesty, they should exhibit the same character themselves.  For example, if the teacher forbids absenteeism and does not apply this upon himself, it definitely leaves a negative impact on him among the students.

If a teacher expects from his students to attend the class even in sickness then he should also be there if he has a fever because teachers are always a source of inspiration for the students.  If you are willing to change the ill-practicing culture of the country, you cannot change it alone but groups of like-minded people can do it. Only teachers have the power to generate good citizens and future leaders since they are the mentors for their students.  If we are willing to make our future generation a pride for our nation and our country, we need exemplary students and teachers shining in their fields.

 

5.Team ecademus: Sir, It is normally observed that there is certainly lacking in current education system besides some good things from which one most prominent thing is that those students using the method of mindless memorizing facts and figures, usually succeed and the rest are unsuccessful.  This is our education system and parents and teachers in our society understand that who does not comply with this rule, is a failure. Sir, do you have some examples which you would like to share with our viewers because you have a vast experience dealing with likewise situations? Your views about this culture would be quite motivational for the students as well as parents as to how they can handle themselves in the way forward.

 

Ahmed Saya: Well, nowadays children are measured through their grades only.  If you got a better grade, you are a good student otherwise not. Unfortunately, this is always not true.  Sometimes, several children are unable to get good marks/grades that is not at all an indicator that they are incapable of achieving success.  Every child has a different capability that has to be assessed in its true sense. For example, if one child is very good in Maths or in English, but unable to cope with the required standards of other subjects. Similarly, everyone has a different set of interpersonal skills that make him distinguished from others, e.g. somebody is good in drawing or can do good photography or can say good poetry or any other thing but does not match with the academic syllabus.  We cannot assess everybody on the same scale.

There is a standard curriculum which teachers are asked to teach to the students. Accordingly, only those who follow the guidelines advised by their teacher succeed. In our education system, children are only asked to proceed for a career in Pre-Medical (become a doctor), or Pre-Engineering (become an engineer), or become a Chartered Accountant. What about other walks of life? See, the child will choose a specific field of interest for himself/herself and will be successful if opted to choose as per his/her capabilities.  Teachers are very close to their students and can judge the inherited qualities of their students so there is a need to tackle them differently.

To help your students get good grades and not to recognize their capabilities are two different things.  Students must realize one thing that if desired results are not achieved despite their best efforts, they are not responsible for that.   Then they should think about themselves what specific capabilities do they possess which may help them excel in their future. Promote your hidden talents and try your luck in that segment.  But, most importantly you must know what basic skills you have in you. Also, find out if you have any mentor or role model in your field of interest, meet him, focus learning from him, always chose good things to learn from your mentor.  Not everyone is perfect, keeping in view, go for 4-5 inspiring people and pick up good things from them, avoid bad things.

Remember, if you copy 100% of your mentor that will not be good for you as no one is perfect. Therefore, always find 3-4 people which you feel are perfect and then learn from them good selective tips. When you show your talent to them, they will help you.   This way, you can become an ideal successful person in your life.

In this connection, it is dire responsibility of parents and teachers to recognize talents in children and encourage them to help proceed in their field of interest if they fail to surpass their academic challenges.  It is not necessary that every child appears to be a good student, but proper counseling from parents and teachers can help him become the best citizen successful in his proper field. When a person does something according to his passion, the best ever result is always achieved.  

6.Team ecademus: Sir, I acknowledge when you say we should make role models as they are the source of inspiration, as well as one should make multiple of role models so that one can instill all those characteristics in oneself. My question to you is have you ever been inspired with someone and who is that person?

Ahmed Saya: Throughout my career as a student from childhood to Masters level, I have always been inspired by my teachers. I have learned from different acting heads of various schools. In every stage of one’s life, there is always a person who teach a great many things in every situation and work as a source of inspiration. In my case, my teachers have played a vital role in motivating me and inspiring me.

In addition, there was always a teacher whom I tried to copy and instill those good qualities, for example, one of my teachers had a good memory, someone’s teaching style was excellent, someone’s way of caring for students was adorable. I always learned from my teachers and tried to develop those characteristics within myself. I always say this and I want to repeat it again that my teachers deserve this ‘’World’s Most Dedicated Teacher’’ award more than me because they are the ones who taught me what is dedication. If the world is calling me the most dedicated teacher, I call my teachers the epitome of dedication. Whatever I am today is because of their hard work and dedication. I am their product as I have learned from them.  

7.Team ecademus: The world is moving with a fast pace, there are things like Artificial Intelligence, IoTs, open block chains, however, where do you see our system in present times, what changes do you believe should be done in our syllabus/curriculum. What should be added or deleted from our curriculum?

Ahmed Saya: In Pakistan, we have different educational boards such as Cambridge, Aga Khan, Federal Board, Punjab Board and Sindh Board working as a separates bodies. Each one of them has its shortcomings. Cambridge system stands out from the different boards on its quality of revising its syllabus every now and then. They keep making continuous improvement time and regularly.

Unfortunately, this is absent in our local system boards. Recently there has been a piece of news around which exposes that students are still being 20 years old syllabus and still taught topics like Floppy Disks which do not exist in reality anymore. The world’s scenarios have been shifted tremendously, however, students are still taught about things which do not exist in reality anymore is quite alarming. Comparing Pakistan to other technologically advanced countries, we are lacking those innovations which are necessary for the future. If we start working on it from now then there will come a time that will produce knowledgeable people.

There is a term in Japanese called Kaizen which means continuous improvement for a better change. Similarly, we need to change, upgrade and revise our syllabus so that a child can equip himself with future-oriented skills and qualities, for example, artificial intelligence, etc. On the other hand, the world is changing with the incredible rate that now we all have access to Professor Google. All one has to do is to ask a question with Professor Google and they get an answer in an instant. In earlier times, students or researchers had to go to a library to get relevant information. They had to put an effort to find a suitable book and had to put an effort to find a page related to their topic. The work did not end here; after finding the desired page they had to read and make notes out of it. So the students had to go through several stages of the effort to study a certain topic, but now it’s convenient to find information, unfortunately, it is producing a lack of knowledge in students.

8.Team ecademus: I will add on to Rida’s question, in present times we are seeing that special efforts have been put in artificial intelligence, now people are talking about trending IoTs, Bitcoins, blockchain, etc the rate of change is very quick now as compared to the earlier times. It’s also been said that students who study in specific fields will need to upgrade their studies as a certain profession will no longer exist in the future. Similarly, critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills are the most important aspect of the 21st century. Sir, since you are affiliated with Cambridge system what areas do you see that needs to be improved or is there any chance of improvement in it?

Ahmed Saya: Look, there is always a margin of improvement in everything. One cannot simply declare that a certain product is the best and in its complete form as there is no room for improvement in it. No, everything needs to be updated timely whether its about students, teachers, syllabus, or curriculum. No educational board can assert that we have become perfect and we do need to upgrade our policies and educational content. Each and everything has to be changed and revised to well suit the timely needs. In the Cambridge system, teachers are always concerned to teach students the up-to-date syllabus and improving the quality of education.

On the other hand, students should also be taught creativity, critical thinking skills right from their first day of schools. A broad view of the curriculum should be adopted which can help teachers promote critical analysis and encourage creative minds so that students develop the skills of thinking and start to look at things through a different perspective. Broad curriculum design can help in creating a non-restrictive environment as some teachers are always feeding students to do this or don’t do that etc. Likewise, students should also be given a chance of exploring themselves and their environment through their exposure to different fields of work. For example, a student needs to have carpentry skills, he should know how to do the cooking, plumbing, gardening, plantation as well as he/she should know about some basics of electrical work as this can open up the possibilities for students when they will go in upper classes which field to opt for.

Contrarily, if a student is interested in learning wood-work that does not restrict his career options to being a carpenter only; NO, it means that student can opt his future career as a furniture designer. Similarly, if a student likes stitching then there is a possibility that student may turn up as a good fashion designer, or if someone likes taking care of people then that student has an inbuilt knowledge that he may want to become a doctor or would like to be in the medical field and so on and so forth. Giving students an opportunity to explore diversified fields can help them produce inbuilt knowledge about what they would like to do when they grow up. In addition, students like to carry out this type of work in which he/she receive a good amount of appreciation. Teachers always notice if a weak child has performed outstandingly receive some appreciation from a teacher then he starts to work on the same subject or task because that’s the work which has made him received kind words. In addition, he/she also choose that subject to make his/her career path.  

9.Team ecademus: Sir, now my question is for underprivileged students as we have already discussed the blessed kids. We see that only 2-3% of students out of many can afford the quality education but what about the majority of the students cannot afford a quality education. How can they cope up with the situation and educate oneself even after loads of financial lacking?

Ahmed Saya: In Pakistan, unfortunately, almost 25 million students are out of school. There are various options to overcome this lacking, for example, choosing a government school to complete education. However, the culture of ghost schools cannot be ignored: schools existing on documentation but do not exist in reality. Imparting knowledge and education is not only confined to the responsibility of the government, but it falls on every educated individual of society. We have to stop this blame game and need to start taking initiatives on our own whether it’s on a small scale or a big one. Those who are well-off must try to open schools in downtrodden localities of our societies.

My dream and mission are to eradicate illiteracy from Pakistan and for the similar cause, we initiated a project, six years ago, called ‘’The Bridge School’. As its name suggests, this school bridges the gap between the privilege and underprivileged part of society. Currently, 220 students are given free access to education in this school.

Recently someone asked me, ‘’How will cater the needs of 25 million students and teaching only 220 students at your school?’’ The gap is only be filled by creating a ripple effect in the educational sector. One person alone cannot do everything, for this noble motive each and every educationist need to come forward and start multiplying their efforts and students numbers. How? Look, for example, if some educationists take this initiative of running 20-22 free schools in underprivileged parts of the country this caters 4000 students at the same time. Now students from these bridges school can grow up and open up chains of school to pay back to the community who helped them study for free. Again the number goes to up to 4000 creating multiple ripple effect.  

Similarly, those educationists who do not want to be a part of bridging gap school movement can adopt the ghost schools whether its public or private; and refurbish it to spread quality and affordable education. The purpose of education is not to earn money but to make students capable enough to think. Continuing on, the obstacles in achieving this idealize dream is the orthodox thinking of backward minds.

10.Team ecademus: Sir, it’s been a big change in the global phenomena in the form of online education and it’s a big addition to the educational platform like it was a revolutionary change in shape of printing press earlier.  Obviously campus education and online education can be categorized separately and both segments have their importance in their places. Sir, can you please throw some light on the positive aspects of the online education system in Pakistan and what more can be done in this connection?

Ahmed Saya: Look, if internet access throughout down-trodden areas of Pakistan is provided then it will be a much easier task for everybody to reach the proper education facilities.  In far-flung areas of Pakistan where children are working, having no access to education, benefits of online education can fetch better results as they can get an education through internet by arranging big screens any time during morning or evening.  Nonetheless, it will not be like school going education but at least children can have the facility to learn something. They will get a sense of education and it will motivate them to move forward in this direction.

In my opinion, if free for all education is the objective in Pakistan then use of technology is the only option where access to the internet and technical devices can bring revolutionary changes in our educational system.  Everybody can learn from global resources through the technology and internet which will be a source of nurturing educated and well-mannered generation. Everyone from our nation has the right to fulfill dreams and in this way, new learning horizons from the world technology will produce a highly talented and enlightened nation. There will be no restrictions and no limits of development and reach of a common man, like; more universe can be explored beyond the stars.   

 

11. Team ecademus: Sir, I will add one more thing that from the platform of Ecademus, we are providing online education with the objective first to bring quality affordable education and at a later stage Insha Allah provide this facility free for all.   Sir, Ahmad Saya, you have a big name of international repute in teaching and a child from Karachi who is studying from you feel blessed but my question is; children from Thatta, Makli, Sajawal, Lahore, Multan, Gujranwala, Sahiwal and other cities of Pakistan are deprived of this, for what guilt, they cannot attain this facility of getting knowledge from you.  We are desirous from you to also become FATHER OF THOSE STUDENTS and bring them under your kind patronage.

As per your own saying education may be made free and wide-spread for everyone, we, from our platform wish to join your vision and in this connection, our Team Ecademus fully supports your vision. Now when the academic session has ended and new session yet to start, we suggest, if possible, we can jointly publish your lectures for those in Pakistan and across the globe who want to listen and get knowledge from you.  What do you say in this respect?

Ahmed Saya: I would love it if such a platform is available and if there is a possibility that my lectures could be made available free of cost for non-affording across the world.  If Allah Tala wants to make me a source of this noble cause, it will be a great pleasure for me if I am able to impart education to the people this way. For me, it is a great responsibility as the Teacher’s responsibility is not confined up to the classroom only but beyond the classroom, a teacher is always a teacher.  My ultimate desire is to provide access to education especially to those who are un-affordable can reap the benefits of education and I am lucky if I can be a part of this struggle. I will try my utmost to help develop such model of education from which free access can be given to everyone.

11.Team ecademus: Sir, Our organization is motivationally inspired by the quote of Nelson Mandela; “Education is the most powerful tool using which you can change the world”.  In our views, nothing is better than education from which you can develop your surroundings, the world, and your society. Surely, this will be a matter of our pride if we can facilitate your good self in this noble cause.  This platform is always available for your service and if you wish, our team of experts can join you to record your lectures at your place so that every child starts getting benefitted from your lectures. None of the children from Pakistan can claim that since they were not residing in Karachi, not reading at Cordoba School, hence deprived of the Lectures of Sir Ahmad Saya.  On the other hand, everybody can have the opportunity to get knowledge in this way.

Sir, As you know exams of higher classes are approaching fast.  Can you give any guidance or tips to help the students of Accounting or Mathematics?

Ahmed Saya: Look, I will advise all the students to concentrate and work hard on their studies.  It is a very crucial time sometime before exams where students can barely spare time for food and sleep because study and incomplete preparation of exams do not allow them for that.  It is very unfortunate in our society that night before exam paper should be passed studying without sleeping. I completely disagree with this strategy of studying before one night of exam.  I feel awakening of the night before the exam is a reason for mental disturbance rather than helping the student.

Students should relax and take their full sleep as they need to complete their exams preparation wholeheartedly before time.  A relaxed student can solve the paper more comfortably. Incomplete or half-hearted preparation brings the student to a level where they use the word “Kash” and this is a word of sorrow which cannot bring back your wasted time. Feeling of mis-commitment and not studying or missing the classes is always the reason for the shame for the student.  It becomes very painful afterward.

I have earlier stated that students are responsible for their efforts and not for their results.  If 100% of devoted efforts are put in then something better will come out. They should not leave any stone unturned by solving past year papers, revise the concepts and ensure 100% preparation underwent.  Your complete preparation before exams will allow you to help your friend who asks you to clear any concept. Do not hesitate to teach because teaching is the best way to learn. When the students help others in the preparations, their own concepts will be precise.  Always appear in your exams honestly and avoid cheating of any sort because there is no use of cheating as passing out without knowledge is like an empty vessel. It is malpractice and awkward way to get your papers cleared hence unjustified. The students must work hard and honestly to go through the whole process of examination and follow suit in the future life.  Always avoid dishonesty as they have to represent themselves as Proud Pakistani. I will advise all students to continue their studies honestly.

If you happen to travel abroad for employment do it honestly and come back to Pakistan because you are just because of Pakistan. You will always be identified as a free Pakistani national, so be proud of your identity as a Pakistani.  You cannot imagine the harsh time which people are passing who have not got freedom yet. Occupied Kashmir, Palestine, Bosnia are the states not yet got freedom and the kids of those areas are suffering a lot and feeling like a prisoner. Freedom is a blessing and us, Pakistanis are a blessed nation. You are born in this country so you are indebted of this country, therefore, you need to come back for your loving Pakistan.  Use your perfect skills and for the benefit of your country and in that manner you can return whatever you have earned from here. My advice is to complete your studies honestly and with dedication and nobody can stop you move forward.

You are in competition with none other than yourself; run fast in your own race and try to improve further. Try to make your tomorrow better than yesterday with your good deeds and hard work.  Have you experienced the inner joyous moments when doing some good work or on some achievement or feeling some embarrassment while doing something wrong. When doing some work always try to listen to your inner voice because the soul of everybody is pure. Your inner voice is your guardian angel so always follow its advice. If you get the good signals it is, keep it up otherwise refrain from the work which you feel bad. That is your success key if you follow the proper guidance of your inner sense.

13.Team ecademus: As the exams are approaching, we notice students give up as they have not studied throughout the year. As you have said exams are just a way to check one level of knowing the topic it does not guarantee success or failure in life. I believe what students should be learning is never to give up. Would you like to share something that could help students become motivated towards their studies?

Ahmed Saya: I always tell my students that you fall down you have two choices whether to stand up or give up. Students have to overcome their fear of unknown if they want to be successful in their lives; quit asking negative questions-what if I do this or what would happen if I do that- Start exploring yourselves; make a habit of learning every day from today. Most importantly, God forbid, if you face failure in a certain subject or in a task, try to learn from that mistake.

There’s a great quote ‘’It’s not a sin to commit a mistake, but it’s the greatest sin to not learn from that mistake. So always have a passion for learning new things. Once a man asked Thomas Edison when you failed 999 times to make a bulb why did you try the thousandth time? He replied, I did not fail 999 times, I learned to not make a bulb 999 times.

That’s should be your way of approaching hardships. Your attitude should be a learning attitude, try to look at things through a different perspective. Always think whatever has happened you have learned a lesson out of it. Also, try to include people in your victory, always create a win-win situation. Keep the spirit high and do not give up as whenever you stop trying you fail 100%. So, you(students) still have a chance to outperform in their examinations. Let the matter of winning or losing aside, just work hard and focus on your goal.

Again, most importantly, do not give up as there is a glory in hard work. Even if you feel you are drowning, do something to pull yourself out from the water. Move your hands, try to swim. The success is in trying tirelessly.

14.Team ecademus: Thank you so much, Sir, for taking out time for team ecademus. You are the source of inspiration and motivation for all of the students. I would like to conclude with these remarks that, Sir, your dream is to make a literate Pakistan and to eradicate illiteracy from the roots. I would like to tell you that our ecademus team is with you on the mission. If we all start working together from now there is a possibility that we will see this change in our lives. There will come a time that every Pakistani kid would be educated and knowledgable.

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