Established in 1993, the Institute for Educational Development (IED), is an academic entity of the Aga Khan University in Pakistan. IED is mandated to make valuable and relevant contributions towards improving the quality of education in Pakistan and other developing contexts. It works as a catalyst for educational change by developing passionate and transformative educational professionals, influencing educational policies and practices and modelling educational reforms in the under-served areas. As Taiba, a recent graduate from the institute, joins us for conversation, lets see how she reflects upon her experience about the institute.
“Highly obliged to be the part of the Aga Khan University. I always dreamt to fly high professionally and academically and this prestigious institution has bestowed me with golden wings to fly higher and achieve beyond. A BIG THANK YOU,” says Taiba Yar Baig
Sujjawal Ahmad (SA): Taiba, thank you for taking the time to talk.
Taiba Yar Baig (TYB): It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
SA: Before we speak about your academic journey, do you mind telling our worldwide audience about yourself? Where are you from originally? And what do you do?
TYB: I am originally from Hunza, Northern Areas of Pakistan. I belong to an educated family background with my own Dad, Imam Yar Baig, who served as a Director Education. I have currently graduated as MPhil Scholar from Aga Khan University-Karachi and now working as a Senior Research Associate, Research & Development and Monitoring & Evaluation in Family Education Service Foundation (FESF)-Deaf Reach Schools (DRS), Pakistan.
SA: Interesting! So, you are a recent graduate from the Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development. What was so particular about your academic life?
TYB: The start of a new academic year brings with it new and exciting opportunities, especially if you happen to be venturing into the university grounds for the very first time! While it’s easy to forget when you’re staring at a load of textbooks that are weighted up on your desk from week one, there is more to university life than attending lectures, reading countless articles, and completing large assignments. University life is meant to be fun! University has been the opportunity of a lifetime, and even that is an irony, and life at university is indeed meant to be fun!
SA: It is often exciting when you transition from school life to university life. How was your experience? Was it exciting?
TYB: Definitely, yes! I would say that the transitional phase from high school to starting a degree can be one of the most exciting times for many students who are enthusiastic to break away from their tight-knit group of high school friends and immerse themselves in the university culture. Likewise, I found Aga Khan University a progressive and dynamic outlook, constantly striving to build on its achievements: investing in excellent medical, educational, and professional facilities; pushing the boundaries of research, quality education, and developing new ways of intellectual learning.
SA: So, what was the particular thing about AKU-IED that attracted you get peruse your academic life here?
TYB: When I had offered admission at AKU in 2018 in the MPhil (Masters of Philosophy-Education) program, there were, definitely, heaps of factors that led to me becoming a part of this prestigious university. The quality of education, curricular and co- curricular facilities for students on behalf of students’ forums, and the high career placement rate for example. One of the key factors that pulled me here was the consistent and great reputation in the field of quality education, professional development, and research over the past several years.
SA: Do you feel prepared for future challenges and opportunities?
TYB: I feel like Aga Khan University and Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development have more than prepared me for whatever comes next.
In terms of professional and academic experiences, I might just run out of words. Everything in this world gives you an experience of life. It depends on how you take that experience forward and the way you execute it. AKU not only encourages me to be academically strong but also causes me to be a better professional person in life. So, I can say YES! I feel prepared for future challenges and opportunities. As I always consider challenges as learning opportunities.
SA: Would you like to elaborate, what kind of academic activities you were involved with?
TYB: As for academic activities, I was a part of different seminars, conferences, cultural and university levels as a volunteer, an organizer, a team-lead, a student representative, and a class representative within all the residences on campus. I have always been keen on my toes to undertake activities and to show my involvement in various sports. Also giving speeches and sitting in meetings with national and international delegates have boosted my leadership quality, the approachability towards others, and certainly, my inner confidence in me which indirectly aids me to be a better intellectual researcher and Philosopher which I desire to pursue after the completion of my MPhil (Masters of Philosophy in Education) course.
SA: That is amazing! Were you involved in professional activities during the period of your degree too?
TYB: Yes! Professionally, I have also been involved with different research-oriented projects as a senior research associate, research intern, as a member and class-representative with my cohort and with our intellectual faculties at AKU-IED throughout my 3 years of the period at university. The leading leadership has provided me inspiring hope, ignited my creative imagination, and instilled in me-a love of professional learning.
SA: So, you got an exposure to a wide range of activities. How do you feel about it?
TYB: So, getting involved in a range of activities will benefit you in many ways and help to shape your overall experience. Exposing yourself to numerous professional and co-curricular opportunities to get involved will no doubt also come in handy in the future. Rather than choosing to only take part in activities that you feel will directly assist you in progressing further down a particular career path, open yourself up to the possibility of taking part in something that genuinely interests you, whether it be academic or creative. All skills you learn throughout life are transferable.
SA: We often hear a well quoted saying from Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III, “…If I had two children, and one was a boy and the other a girl, and if I could afford to educate only one, I would have no hesitation in giving the higher education to the girl.” In a country like Pakistan, if one looks around, especially girls are missing out on education in unacceptable numbers despite their desire for education. As in your case, leaving your home, and travelling to Karachi for education must be very difficult. How were you able to come over those challenges? Did you find support from your family?
TYB: Ahhhh… I would say, Yes! There is certain contextual difference in different remote areas which become hindrance in the path of getting higher education is especially for girls. Because considering such contextual differences, leaving our native areas, and getting ourselves for higher studies from is indeed so challenging but I am luckiest person who have been continually motivated, encouraged and supported on behalf of my family. I therefore want to acknowledge my family (parents, my brothers, and sisters) for always believing in me, for giving me strength, for supporting me along my educational journey in life. I will forever owe my achievements to my dedicated, caring, and thoughtful family. I would not be the person I am today without their continuous support, love, and care.
SA: That’s interesting! Infact, Ismaili community has always been forefront when it comes to education. From this I recall another quote from His Highness the Aga Khan IV where he has said: “Education is a life-long experience”. Please tell our audience how do you see it applies to your life?
TYB: Henceforth, rather than saying goodbye to a period of my life that has meant so much to me, and now considering myself as an ALUMNI of Aga Khan University, I believe my learning will start from now onwards. Hopefully, I will forever be grateful to have had a chance to be a part of this admired institution as I want to give back to campus whatever I am blessed with. I will also continue to contribute my community and entire society and will make the difference through my personal and professional learning experiences. I will also say thank you Aga Khan University, for giving me the character and professional development I need to keep building, the brain I need to keep expanding, and the heart I need to keep loving. I will treasure these memories and intellectual and critical learning experiences for the rest of my professional life. Also, Gracias to my leading AKU & AKUIED leadership, students’ forum, intellectual Professors, staff, friends, family, colleagues and my, of course, research supervisor for serving as examples of patience, communication, and understanding! I know that the progress I have made and continue to still make is a combination of the amazing support I had from my university.
SA: It was indeed wonderful talking to you. Any message that you want to give to our global audience? Any message to your family?
TYB: I would like to say that females’ participation from different contextual differences needs the support of their families at all levels but it really works when we (Women and girls) show sense of agency and strong determination towards it. I will forever owe my achievements to my dedicated, caring and thoughtful family. I would not be the person I am today without their continuous support, love, and care. Because leaving our native areas, as I already said, and getting out to hunt for higher studies from remote areas is not an easy task especially for females but I am luckiest person who have been continually motivated, encouraged and supported on behalf of my family.
So, I would love to end my reflections with one of my motivational quotes being received from my elder brother; Karim Yar Baig recently on my graduation day (22-05-2021; AKU global convocation);
“When you work sincerely, it pays off! You need to render trust in a conservative society… It is hard but not unachievable. You will see your daughters, sisters, and better half’s shinning besides you. Go support them and be proud to help them”.
About Taiba Yar Baig
Taiba has done Masters of Philosophy-Education from Aga Khan University-Karachi. She have been working as a Senior Research Assistant at the Aga Khan University Institute of Educational Development (AKU-lED) for a study on “Gathering stake holders’ perspectives on issues related to teaching, learning and assessment for the development of Teacher Training Modules and a Student Assessment Framework Aligner with the Single Nation Curriculum (SNC)”.
Taiba is currently working as a Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Development Research Associate in Family Education Services Foundation (FESF), Pakistan. Her research interests particularly focus on Leadership and management, Monitoring and Evaluation, Gender Equities and Equalities, Educational Policies and Reforms, exploring Deaf Reach cultures, Teaching-Learning Pedagogies on particular conceptual approaches to Professional development.