Education Pakistan: The Class of 1947

Posted on December 2, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Education, History, Photo of the Day
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Adil Najam

Thanks to the magic of internet search, our last ATP quiz was not difficult to decipher. Yes, it is Government College Lahore. The photograph was taken in December 1947 by LIFE magazine famous photographer Margaret Bourke-White, and is of freshmen students in a physics class. What made the picture interesting to me was that it was taken in 1947.

There is a whole series of photographs by Margaret Bourke-White of education in Pakistan, as witnessed by her camera lens in December 1947. The one of the left (above) is of the same class at Government College Lahore. The one on the right is of first graders in a school at Faizpur, near Lahore. They represent two faces of Pakistan’s “Class of 1947.”

In introducing the Quiz, I had hoped that we might get more detail on some of the people in the photograph or commentary on the fact that this was taken in 1947 itself. I hope we might get some of that discussion now. To aid this process, we present more photograph’s from Margaret Bourke-White’s collection on education in Pakistan.

All these photographs were taken in 1947. The ones in the block above include (L to R):

  • Sind Moslem College, Karachi. Freshman English class. Note that this is co-educational, with girls sitting behind a partition (purdah) separating them from the boys.
  • Village Elementary School, Fairpur, near Lahore. FIrst grade students studying under the open sky.
  • Village Middle School, Burj Attari, near Lahore. Fifth and Sixth grade students studying in a joint class. Note the metal boxes in front of them.
  • Home School, Burj Attari, near Lahore. Teachers tending First through Fourth grade girl students in a home school.
  • Pakistani Women’s Education Conference, Karachi. A November 1947 educational conference on women’s education. Khadeeja Feroze Ud-din (2L), Deputy Directress of Public Instruction of West Punjab, in purdah.

In looking at all these different faces of Pakistan’s “Class of 1947”, what can we say about the Class of 1947? What was expected of it? What was delivered? What has changed? What has not? What was achieved? What lost?

15 responses to “Education Pakistan: The Class of 1947”

  1. naeem says:

    its amazing .
    I am from same village I mean BurjAttari, I born in 1965 . Livng in Sweden from last 20 years, its a Nostalgy for me to see the pictures of my Village, may be any my relative girl or boy is in the classroom.
    But anyhow it pleased me.
    thanks a lot

  2. Grace says:

    The Pakistani Women’s Conference, Karachi, 1947:

    The lady in the centre in spectacles is the late Begum Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah and to her left is the late behum Nasimi Fazlur Rahman.

  3. Monkey says:

    Nice photos. Adil, these photos should be archived with The Citizens Archive of Pakistan. Perhaps you have heard of them? It’s a non-profit, non-government organization that is collecting and archiving first person accounts and photographs of the time of the partition. More on them here:

  4. Faraz says:

    Great photos. Seems like a simpler more peaceful time. But I do agree with Javed and others. In my humble opinion, the class of 1947 doesn’t have much to brag about. Lack of resources is not an excuse for setting the trends of corruption, divisiveness, suppression, selfishness, greed etc.

  5. VIQAR says:

    Irfan and Javed. Maybe you are being too hard on your seniors here. The times and resources were tough. There was nothing in Pakistan then and therefore this generation had to worry just about keeping the country afloat. They could not do much more.

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