As the citizens of Pakistan, we are all tasked with a responsibility towards our nation. We all have to render some sort of sacrifice, in order to serve our country and right now we need to unite to improve the state of education here. The current situation is absolutely deplorable, and an overhaul is desperately required. The statistics paint an even uglier picture, as 44 percent children, between the ages of five and fifteen, do not have access to education in our country. In the given circumstances, it then becomes our responsibility as a society to stand up and act, and not just blame the state for this abject failure to provide our children with the most basic of human rights; their right to an education. As John F Kennedy once famously said over half a century ago, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. In this regard, Maheen Wahid, a young woman from the town of Lyari in Karachi, has taken great strides in bringing the marginalised children of her neighbourhood the educational opportunities they need. She started by opening a school in her own home, and from her introductory class of only four, she has steadily risen to teaching over a hundred children within four years. She also managed to do all this without any support from the government, and she provides the children with the necessary books, stationary and school bags as well. While providing a quality education was her main purpose behind the school, she has also admitted that keeping the street children away from the temptations of drugs and crime was also a major factor in her decision. Volunteering is more often than not, quite a thankless task, and people mostly do it for their own satisfaction, rather than for some material gain. Similarly, Maheen’s desire to bring about real change in her neighbourhood inspired her to take the initiative, and her hard work and positive attitude helped her achieve her dream in the end. She realized that true happiness can only come from enriching the lives of others, and in this endeavour, she has surpassed many with her efforts, even staging plays and music recitals to further her cause. Her tremendous work, at such a young age, is truly commendable. We can look at Vietnam as the perfect example. After their independence, it was their youth population that took the responsibility to eradicate illiteracy from their country. Former jails and concentration camps were turned into schools, and many of their young people volunteered to become teachers However, Maheen Wahid’s true accomplishment lies in showing our society what a difference an individual can make. This young girl saw a problem, and decided to do something about it, instead of laying the blame on others. Hopefully her success can inspire some form of civic mortality and if others in our land, especially the large majority of the country’s youth, can take a leaf out her notebook, and follow her example; then there is nothing we cannot achieve. The large population of young people in Pakistan is an asset for the future. They are expected to solve the many problems our great nation faces today that their forefathers failed to tackle on their own. Yet, at the moment there seems to be a lack of clear understanding or direction, within our youth. They would rather spend time on useless activities or browsing the web, then mobilize to make a marked difference for the progress of our country. We need more ambition and spirit on their part. We can look at Vietnam as the perfect example. After their independence, it was their youth population that took the responsibility to eradicate illiteracy from their country. Former jails and concentration camps were turned into schools, and many of their young people volunteered to become teachers. Within a few years, the nation had vastly improved its educational facilities and literacy rates rose at unprecedented rates. The efforts made by their youth made a huge difference, and similar efforts need to be replicated in Pakistan as well. Maheen Wahid followed the age-old adage ‘charity begins at home’ and gave the poor and impoverished children in her neighbourhood the support they needed to perhaps dream of a better life. She realized that education was the only way for them to get out of the malignant cycle of poverty endemic to her neighbourhood, and countless other impoverished neighbourhoods across Pakistan. Education is a shared responsibility between all of us. We should not make it a habit to raise fingers and criticize the flaws that exist in our society; instead we should do everything in our power to solve them. We need to examine the system in place and the flaws within it, whether they are related to the teachers, students, school administrations or the government itself. By forcing the entirety of the blame on any one actor for all the systemic educational failures present in our country today can have serious negative connotations, and really leads nowhere but to further debate and inaction. Mere criticism does not modify the existing defects of society. Once again, we come back to the youth. If they are instilled with a desire for social change at a young age, then they will be better equipped to bring about a positive change, down the road. Success stories like Maheen Wahid, and the many other such young people striving to make a difference on their own, should be brought in to the limelight more often. This might help inspire others to support educational reform in the country, and promote education to all parts of the country, no matter how disenfranchised. I commend Maheen, and others like her for their untiring efforts for the nation and hope others can follow their example as well. The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, August 1st 2018.