January 1, 2008
Ah! My School - Letter to the Editor, DAWN


S. Nayyar Iqbal Raza (Class of 1971), wrote the following Letter to the Editor of DAWN. The letter was published in DAWN on January 1, 2008 and it can be viewed on their website at by clicking here. The letter is also reproduced below for your convenience.



The other day my cousin wanted to wish his Christian friend Merry Christmas, so we bought a cake and went to his apartment on Daudpota Road, near the Cantonmentt Station, opposite the Federal Government Public School, Karachi. I had a chance to look at my old school from the seventh floor across the road.


This school was known as the Public School, Karachi Cantt, when I started in KG-1 in the early 1960s. Later it was renamed Cantt Public School and now it is called Federal Government Public School. Area-wise it was the biggest in Karachi, with one end on Daudpota Road and the other stretching all the way to Jinnah Hospital. The student population was also amongst the highest in Karachi. It had two full-sized cricket grounds and two standard hockey fields, a football ground in addition to many open areas, fountains, etc.


The hockey field was so good that at times the Pakistan team probable used to practise on the ground, later they shifted to the Hockey Club of Pakistan, when that was built. The school produced many well - known personalities and Javed Jabbar is one of them.


The best area in the school was dedicated to the KG students. The two classrooms were wide and colourful. There was a concrete paved playing area for these students as big as a tennis court.


Lala Rafiq, former Pakistan hockey Olympian, was our proctor, who used to monitor the students' hygiene, nails, dress condition, shoe shine and hair cut.


The school used to invite psychiatrists to help Class VIII students in selecting the appropriate subjects suiting their interest and aptitude and to lay a foundation for a good career. Although none of our students topped in Karachi board examinations, however many a time they got positions.


There were many shady trees. There was a big parking lot where parents would park their cars and wait for their loved ones, without ever parking on the road. Similarly, there was a huge space for seven dedicated school buses, and I used to travel from North Nazimabad in one of them.


There was a beautiful and huge dome with coloured skylights under which Class Nursery to Class V used to assemble. We used to sing 'Pak surzameen shad baad' under it, in addition to a 'naat': "Woh shamma ujala kis nay kia chalees barus tuk gharounh may".


Around the dome there were classes for Nursery to II. On the left and right side of the dome were Classes III to X, in between there was a very good canteen, a huge library and the principal's office.


There were well-equipped physics and chemistry laboratories, followed by several rooms for technical drawing classes. The corps commander, Karachi, who was the patron-in-chief, used to visit us on our annual sports day.


All this is gone, there is, however, a tiny portion remaining. The school's open area has given way to apartments and some offices. Recently I had the privilege of visiting Harvard Business School, in Boston, Massachusetts. It is sitting in the centre of the city and people say that nothing has changed in the building structure and its surrounding in the last 200 years.


Living nations care for their educational institutions, what are we doing?


S. Nayyar Iqbal Raza