UWC Red Cross Nordic is Kainat’s tenth school. The frequent school changes were not a result of the family moving to new places but came from her desire to get a good quality education. She is the first born to a family of three children and started reading books at an early age. Kainat sees the connection between her desire for a quality education and her love of reading.
“The education at the public school was mainly based on memorization; they never polished my thinking, they never made me creative.”
Kainat comes from a lower middle-class family living in one of the slum areas of Karachi, Pakistan. Within this community, educating girls is not given much value. However, her parents showed a different way of thinking not only by sending her to school, but also through supporting her when looking for a better education. “At times, my father would get frustrated by my frequent demand to change schools, but my mother would say, – Let’s give her what she wants. And I got it!
When Kainat reached 8th grade, she went to a school that was run by an NGO, “… and there I got what I was looking for. Learning by questioning, not by repeating and memorizing everything.”
According to Human Rights Watch, girls in Pakistan have less chance of accessing education than boys and dropout rates of girls from primary schools is higher than that of boys – 32 and 21 percent respectively. “Only 13 percent of girls are still in school by ninth grade” the report confirms.
Kainat made it through high school due to her hunger for education and her mother’s staunch support. And then she got a scholarship to the UWC Red Cross Nordic – a school that would make her bloom. Coming to a different world and meeting strangers who talked and thought differently from how she was used to, was interesting from the beginning. But the influence runs deeper. “In my first year here, we were three Pakistanis, but all from different parts of the country with different religions. This made me realize that I did not know enough about my own country.” But the real eye-opener came regarding her views about people from India, which she came to see were biased. “Through the media and what people at home told me, I had a picture of Indians which was totally different from what I have now, particularly since my best friend here is an Indian girl.”
Kainat’s experience will have a lifelong impact on her. In the short term, it will help her to adjust to life at University as she continues her education. But in the long run, the ability to accept differences and embrace diversity are the values that she will truly treasure.
“The experience at UWC RCN has transformed me. The fact that I must do things by myself without help from my parents, has made me independent. Before, I used to put the blame on my parents if my decision resulted in something unfavourable. Now, once I decide on something, there is no one to blame; I have learned to take responsibility for my actions and to be accountable. UWC is a world in miniature, and living here has prepared me for when I go out into the bigger world.”
Kainat has a dream of making a difference: “Individuals make society, and transformed individuals can transform their society. I believe I am on my way to becoming one. I got my identity through education and I will move on to further education and a career. There is no time to waste!”