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Sunday, 7 March 2010

Education is achievable - but at a price!

What is the cost of learning? Consider opportunity cost!

Here is an article recieved from retired Brigadier Samson Sharaf (sic) - we invite your comment....


As a Pakistani and been involved with Development Education in the country, the biggest paradox for me has been the number of elite Christian schools in the country compared to the absence of Christian social capital to affect a change.

Christian minorities in Pakistan remain insignificant and largely fallen prey to Social Inbreeding that curtails desire, quest to rise and the will to make oneself count. This is not a conspiracy theory, but the conclusion of learned social scientists who have studied behavior of minorities in adverse conditions. The net result is that these deprived communities involve in internal struggles least condusive to inculcating pride, quest and emerging as a viable pressure group to reckon with.

Despite many efforts on our part, the situation has not changed and there seem to be more critics than friends who can cheer us on. My discussions with his Excellency Bishop Anthony Lobo began in 1995. The exchange of ideas with his rich experience became more practical when despite being a combat soldier, I was given the responsibility to reform the Army Public Education System and raise an institution of higher professional learning.

Today, Army Public College of Management and Sciences Rawalpindi stands tall in its newly constructed custom built campus. It introduced new trends in professional education like Logistics Sciences, Human Resource and Man Machine Interfaces. In 10 years the college has reached where it is whilst the first five belong to me.

The Government of Pakistan rewarded me with special citations and commendations during service and on my retirement. Bishop Lobo saw all this happening from the sidelines. Once I retired, he called me to replicate this model in which the major beneficiaries would be the deprived minorities as also other segments of the society. I took it as a religious vocation in the last part of my life, quit a very attractive job in the corporate world and took the plunge. But nothing works without money.

The earthquake of 2005, deprived the Diocese of much needed cash. As Pakistanis, we had to make our contribution to the tragedy stricken people. Apart from relief, the Bishop took the onerous task of housing and educating Kashmiri orphans for two years. Also, the primary block of St. Mary's Academy developed cracks and had to be demolished and constructed anew. As a consequence, there was no money left to raise a professional college. With Bishop Lobo's fast deteriorating health, traveling became prohibitive and so the generation of overseas funds. But we never despaired and continued to trust God. It was better late than never.

Today, St. Mary's College has made its niche at the intermediate level. We run pre university classes for engineering, medical, computer sciences and business. We are in negotiations with NCUK ( and NCUK Pakistan ( for running Business and Engineering classed commencing September this year. The consortium comprises some of the top British Universities with a facility for students to complete 1-2 years in Pakistan and the remaining in the MAIN CAMPUS of the parent university. NCUK appears inclined for all assistance due to the humanitarian and inclusive character of our objectives. The cooperation is well past the teething stages and awaits a final nod.As you would realize, St. Mary's College is taking yet another plunge from very humble beginnings.But within the team, we have the character and desire to take the plunge and Make it Happen. We also owe it to our down trodden community in Pakistan to produce officers, bureaucrats business managers, doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs. This will help us secure our future in a country where we have made significant but unsung contributions.

Most we owe it to the vision and vigor of his Excellency Bishop Anthony Lobo who is retiring due to failing health. As Rector of the college, I request all brothers and sisters to encourage us in our mission. I also request all friends to help us with ideas, enrollment of students, kind and cash contributions. Depending on the response to my request, I shall intimate to you the account number for direct Debit Transfer to the Bank. Your contributions will go a long way in MAKING THIS HAPPEN.Please give this mail wide circulations to friends who are not masters.

We are grateful to AVSI for making happen what has happened so far. Their generosity was a very big help.

With Peace and Love of ChristBrigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf
Rector St Mary's College, Mazhar Qayyum Road, Lalazar Rawalpindi, 46000, Pakistan

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