Farhana Akbar, the Visionary Educationist
A quick chat with the visionary educationist on her journey, dedication and hard work towards a greater good!
What inspired you to pursue education?
I have always been fascinated by the development and perceptions of young children. As a mainstream Foundation class teacher I could immediately detect if a child had any developmental/learning difficulty, but unfortunately as a class teacher, I could only hint about my evaluations and advise the parents. Since at that time I was not a qualified professional to readdress parents’ apprehensions with confidence, the parents would not take a class teacher’s advice seriously. This was the onset of my long journey to study further in children’s learning difficulties, early years development, evaluation and remedial. I started with Montessori, UK. Hornsby, UK. Child Care, USA. MeD Sheffield, UK. and Finally PhD. SEN. USA.
What drives you that has led you to amassing 30 years in the field?
Seeing the results of my dedication and hard work by the end of each academic year, would give me extreme satisfaction, fulfillment and contentment. Implementing my knowledge and experience to enhance children’s learning has kept me motivated for all these years.
You have opened a new Montessori school in Karachi called the Akbar Learning Center. Was opening a school always a goal of yours?
Over a span of 26 years in Dubai, I taught for 17 years in the top schools (Emirates International, Dubai Gem, Horizon Regent). When I relocated to Karachi, I continued teaching for a further 13 years in British Overseas School till an opportunity arose for me to open my own pre-school.
What is the philosophy of Akbar Learning Center? Is there a void in education that ALC will fill?
ALC’s philosophy is to instill thoughtful and caring attitude, which enables children to identify themselves as an integral part of a community, be sensitive to and appreciative of their own and others’ cultures and beliefs. We also encourage the development of learning skills through practical experience, problem solving and questioning, observing and researching; hypothesising and deducting within a cross- curriculum framework. The void in education that ALC will fill is in helping to identify and cater to children’s learning difficulties such as delayed speech, ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia and behaviour issues. ALC will provide support, advice, guidelines and targets for each child. Teachers will work alongside parents to achieve their goals. A complete British curriculum is followed strictly.
What is your own personal approach to learning?
My personal approach to learning is very simple. Do what you have to do and know when to do it if you want a positive result. Diligence and perseverance is a must. Never give up. Let the mind be creative, find the Einstein in each individual and let that strength work towards developing and supporting the weakness and never forgetting that each child learns in a different way and at a different pace.
With focusing on younger students, what do you find to be invaluable in shaping their attitudes towards education?
Teaching is not only via paper and pencil, but it entails offering opportunities to develop the mind to think for itself, gain confidence and learn to explore the possibilities. Children will change their attitude when learning captures their interest, it’s interactive, exciting and challenging.
From US to Dubai, Pakistan and the UK what similarities and differences do you find in the atmosphere surrounding and in depth with education?
Generally pre-schools all over the world have a similar approach to education. For example, pre- school children experience and learn phonics, nursery rhymes, role-play, cooking, arts/crafts, numeracy etc. In Pakistan pre- schools offer more or less the same curriculum but, unfortunately we lag behind in many other important areas of development. Pakistan has a very strong ‘tuition culture’, which leaves less quality time for the parents to spend with their children. Children as young as 2 years old are getting tuitions, which is unheard of in other countries. Bored housewives become teachers. Adult-child ratio and space allotment per class does not meet the international standards.
Do you have a favorite quote regarding education and learning, if so what is it and why do you find it applicable?
‘Education is not preparation for life education is life itself’ – John Dewey
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