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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 Comments on “Education Pakistan: The Class of 1947”

  1. F.S. says:
    December 2nd, 2008 12:46 am

    Amazing pictures.

    What strikes me is that the ones from the village schools may well have been taken yesterday. Not much has changed. Yet, at another level, everything has changed

  2. RIZWAN says:
    December 2nd, 2008 1:04 am

    It would be great if you could get hold of some people who were in college/school in 1947 and ask them the questions you post. Kiya khooya, kiya paaya!

  3. Qausain Ali says:
    December 2nd, 2008 1:49 am

    What can we say about the Class of 1947?
    Mashallah say sab dada, dadi or nana, nani ban gay hain or may be Par lag gaia ho…

    What was expected of it?
    to build Foundations for a new born Pakistan…

    What was delivered?
    Every thing they got … i think they delivered more then 100% of there capabilities.

    What has changed?
    Change was there own children who were failed to deliver what was expected from them, most probably the class of 60s or 70s …(hamaray dady log)

    What has not?
    Struggle… but what is lacking in us is passion that the class of 1947 have…

    What was achieved?
    Alhamdollilah! many things… (abhi yaad nahi a rahi)

    What lost?
    Values & hard work

    (sir G itnay mushkil mushkil sawal na pocha karain:)
    ……………………………………………………………………..
    Pakistan mera ISHQ hay!
    ……………………………………………………………………..

  4. ASAD says:
    December 2nd, 2008 2:02 am

    Nice answers, Qausain Ali.

    I think the “Class of 1947″ did as good a job as could be expected of them given how few resources they had and everything they were up against.

    It was the later ‘classes’ of the 1950s and 1960s that have really failed Pakistan again and again and now the classes of 1970s and 1980s are doing no better.

  5. Tahir says:
    December 2nd, 2008 10:38 am

    It is appropriate that you highlight education since that has really been the thing that is cause of so many of our problems

    What this shows is that our education system was and still is a divided system and that is really the problem.

    How can you progress with a divided educational system

  6. December 3rd, 2008 4:01 am

    Lot of change in every field,also we are ATOMIC POWER.In education uncountable numbers of education institutions opened.Highly educated people are seen in uncountable numbers.Although what is being taught are not according to our envirenment and need.The reason is uncapable people controlling education.Education system should not be commercialised or politiciians should not make policies but technocrate of the field should be addigned this.Also there should be strict dicipline should be maintained very strictly without any interfrence or pressure.

  7. December 3rd, 2008 4:30 am

    NOT PAKISTANI ARE ENTIRELY CORRUPT NOR PAKISTAN IT SELF IS CORRUPT,PAKISTAN IS A GIFT OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH AFTER WE GAVE UNPRECEDENTAL SACRIFICES.PAKISTAN DEMANDED BASED ON IDEOLOGY.THERE SOME ERRORS COMMITED BY OUR PEOPLE WHO WERE AT GOVERNANCE,.EVERYWHERE IN WORLD, UK, USA, SCANDLES TRACED.IN INDIA A ARMY OFFICER WAS INDULGED IN SAMJHOTA SCANDLE.WE PAKISTAI STRICTLY BELIEVE THAT OUR EVERY DEED IS WATCHED BY ALLAH AND WE HAVE TO ACOUNT FOR OUR DEEDS IN THIS WORLD ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT.

  8. atif says:
    December 3rd, 2008 11:17 am

    These are some great pictures.
    Styles and fashions have certainly changed. I love those hats that some of the boys are wearing.
    Burqa styles have changed from year to year as well. Someone should do a pictorial essay on that.

    A school my mother went to had those curtain partitions to separate girls from boys.

    Village schools have probably not changed.
    Educated population ratio has probably declined since 1947.

    Expectations from the early classes were high. Jinnah expected miracles from them.
    I think that they delivered on them for some time while the artistic, scientific, religious air of the 60s and the 70s was liberal and progressive.
    Then the unenlightened few took over.
    Religious freedoms of minorities within and without muslims were curbed.
    Multiculturalism and most of its values were lost with Dhaka.
    Today’s corrupt politicians and soldiers who run our affairs are the children of the 1947 class.
    Today’s revolutionaries, educationists, human rights activists, artists are also from the same class or their children.

    p.s. Some information on Helen Keller’s visits to Pakistani schools in 1955 would be nice to share on this forum.

  9. Javed Ali says:
    December 3rd, 2008 1:54 pm

    Fascinating pictures.

    I am not so sure that the “Class of 1947″ was that great. Remember, these guys in Government College came into power and govt around the 1950s and by 1970s and 1980s they were in charge.

    I think they were given a great gift by the generation before them and they messed it up.

    The Class of 1947 was people like Zia, even Bhutto, and even Musharraf. They have been the cause of our problems.

  10. Irfan Abbasi says:
    December 3rd, 2008 2:04 pm

    I think Javed Ali has a very good point.

    The class of 1947 failed Pakistan quite miserably. I hope the class of 2008 will do better.

  11. VIQAR says:
    December 3rd, 2008 3:16 pm

    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.

  12. Faraz says:
    December 4th, 2008 12:07 am

    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.

  13. Monkey says:
    December 4th, 2008 9:32 am

    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: http://www.citizensarchive.org

  14. Grace says:
    December 6th, 2008 2:37 pm

    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.

  15. naeem says:
    October 13th, 2011 8:40 pm

    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

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