Business Ethics VS Moral Ethics

Where does a private school draw the line?

 

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Recently this image has been running rounds all over social media. With a multitude of people condemning the very letter itself, outraged by the audacity that the school represents. Outraged by the reality that, a private institution for education, is a business.

We have this sense of moral duty, an idea of this utopia that we want Pakistan should be. For some it’s an Islamic heaven, others a secular haven, but one thing perhaps everyone can agree on is the basis that no one should be deprived of a quality education. The issue lies in the very fact that this form of utopia, this idea, is far from being implemented. With that said the whole idea that due to the fee not being paid a child is being removed from class is something that looks morally outrageous. Not just looks but it speaks to us at our very core. For there is no doubt that schools fees in private institutions are on a rise. The question is, do we have a right to be outraged over a school asking for its due?

Perhaps what we can take issue with is the bluntness in the whole letter as such. It was less of an individual notice but more of a public admonishment, and that is something that we as a community should view as a problem. Perhaps it would have been politer to call the parents to school. Or send a personalised letter, instead of having the local school clerk, who is likely not to be known for his incredible command over the English language, for it is known that such public notices and leaflets are written by the clerks, to write such a notice. So yes take issue with how bluntly it was put, take issue with how rudely they demanded that the fees be paid but do not take issue with a school demanding its due right.

A school is a business; it has to pay property tax, pay the bills, pay salaries, make a profit so that the owners have a salary too. A private school is no longer a place of pure education but a hybrid of business and education. With that noted, we must realise that our fees are crucial to ensuring that the campus, the school, and everyone present within that school receives their due pay. To take issue with the school demanding its due payment is misguided at its best. When you buy a car for eighteen lac, you cannot just pay 10 lac and then be annoyed when the sellers want the other eight lac. The moment you decided to pay for the car, you made a contract that you need to uphold. The simple deal is that you pay them, and they provide you with service.

You could always argue that a private institution should not demand so much money. What needs to be noted is that there is no such thing as a cheap private school. In any country, you visit private schooling is reserved for those who are financially secure. Most parents have to send their children to local schools because the fee is simply out their budget. This idea of staying within your means is something that we seem to have an issue with for some reason. Perhaps we need to accept that our financial status will define what we will get. Until our financial situation improves, we cannot demand more. In that light we cannot demand an education, we cannot possibly afford.

What must also be noted is that private schools in Pakistan often send notes of this calibre out only when the fee is overdue by months. It often shows up as an arrear, and this was something of a common sight in my old school, but never were the students handed a note saying pay or leave. There must be some form of extenuating circumstances to bring on such a note.

It should be mentioned that government schools sadly are unable to uphold a standard of education and that our board of education is severely limiting in job opportunities outside Pakistan. It, however, should also be noted that the system is already against O and A level students in Pakistan by Pakistani Universities. The equivalence is often a stab in the back during A levels. So how do you define a quality education? By getting into a good university in Pakistan? While many private and public schools provide a good education, a government school, bearing in mind the pro and cons, may be a better and more financially stable choice for most parents.

As a student of LUMS, it also must be acknowledged that I may sound like a privileged child. Indeed I recognise the fact I’m privileged, but what has to be noted that while a lot of students in LUMS are well off, a lot such as myself are middle class. My parents would too scream when the fees rose, (and still, do) but it was also something they accepted because they are living in a capitalist country. Parents give their souls to provide their child an education, and it is tragic that we have to sacrifice a quality education because of finance. However, perhaps we should learn to navigate within our limits, and let the child get where he needs to with encouragement. Universities have several scholarship and financial aid programs, even if you have taken the Pakistan board of papers, there is nothing stopping you from going abroad, getting a job, living life. It’s just a lot more hassle. I deplore it, but I also accept it, maybe because I don’t have to deal with it. Nonetheless, it’s a fact we need to accept until we are in a position to change it.

Since we’re on the subject of schools and them becoming institutions of money and not education, perhaps we should shoulder some of the blame for them turning into such atrocities. In this day and age, it is not the responsibility of the student to get the grade but the teachers to get them that grade. In most private schools a teacher has to do their level best to make sure you pass your exams. Otherwise, the teacher is in trouble. After all, aren’t your parents paying to make sure you get good grades?

 

My old physics teachers used to tell us to attempt all the questions so that at least somehow he could give us 50% marks. However, this does not imply that private schools do not fail students, they do. However, this only happens under extreme circumstances where there is no choice but to fail the child. This image is perhaps the best representation of what a school is like now. Of how most parents can be. As how most teachers tend to suffer.da2b729370bfba47539fdb44ab7a6968

There is no use in denying it, ask any teacher, and they will vouch for the very truth in this comic.

So with all of this said and done I think we can reasonably conclude that being outraged by the language, by the way, the school conducted itself as demeaning. But to say that asking their due payment is wrong, then you would be incorrect. It is also unfair that we must sacrifice education due to finance, but it’s a reality in most countries, and it’s a reality here too. The school is a business, and this business has no sponsors to help it pay its bills, so it must ask you to pay yours and with that the school is now the villain. Not fair, is it?

*Disclaimer: This article only expresses the view of the author and not of the institution LUMS or of the society LDS.

 

Just Another Boy Died

Just another life. Just another boy who died.

In a country bleeding and wounded from countless blows of terrorism, staggering forward at a slow pace, craving peace and asking for justice, today one more life got erased from a faceless mob at Shahdara, one more right to breathe snatched away, one more soul sucked out of the body.

But today it was different and at the same time not really unfamiliar.

It was not the masked man behind the gun, neither some namaloom afraad blowing them up. Today it was a noun. A noun which looms high over a terrified, passive nation. A noun which weighs more than the ultimate right to life. A noun which is the privilege of the influential and capital punishment for the poor.

PEE-ARR-OO-TEE-OO-CEE-OO-AEL.

The VIP PROTOCOL.

It does not matter if Edhi built us the largest ambulance service in the world, our own police force, our protectors, will stand in the way with their back to the swarming road, deaf to the pleas of the father whose son is in critical condition with guns raised high and eyes waiting for the caravan of the “powerful”. It is not some PTI vs. PMLN debate; It’s the VIP culture of the powerful. The powerful we elect, surrounded by guards, sitting in air conditioned cars, looking out from the tinted windows, ‘serving’ the very nation who’s now immobilized behind the containers and a wall of armed forces.

And tonight our parents after the 9 o’clock news we’ll flick the channels and frown at “Zalima Coca-cola pila dey” commercial. Youngsters will rant on the social sites and soon the post will get buried under the endless updates of our news-feeds. And we’ll all do what we are best at. FORGET.

Forget the boy who died today in Lahore, and the female patient in Rawalpindi.

Forget Bisma, an infant girl, who died outside civil hospital because a political leader was visiting it.

Forget the boy shot dead by a political figure’s security guard because he did not move away when signaled.

Forget the boy with ruptured appendix dying in a traffic jam because general was on the move.

Forget the said premature infant who passed away outside Children’s Hospital because a ‘’Public Servant’’ was visiting it.

Forget the woman in labor trapped in Rickshaw in the name of some leader’s VIP protocol.

Forget and wait for the next VIP convoy to trap us, take away another soul, so we can be infuriated again to talk about it.

Buffaloes In Free Parking

If you have lived in this country for a decent amount of time, you have probably experienced what it is like to drive through a herd of buffaloes. What’s that? You live in Defence and your favorite spot to eat is English Tea House and you haven’t experienced that? Well let me paint you a picture.

Imagine your grandmother, the poor frail old lady, is in front of your car as you are getting late for school. Now imagine there is a herd of your grandmothers, clones, all over the road. Your Honda Civic can probably go around 180 km/h. Your grandmother on the other hand would be too scared to do 2km/h. Now follow along with your imagination; do you see a very weird image in your head of a few dozen of your grandmothers squirming about in the road as you are trying to get to class? That is what driving through a herd of buffalos is like (granted buffalos are much superior in strength and milking power than your grandmother, but I digress).

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Now let’s extrapolate this image a little more. Imagine the herd of buffaloes is made of metal, and each buffalo is being herded by an average LUMS student. This is a peculiar situation would you not say? What would you do now, dear Civic owner from DHA? How will you ever get to that gender studies class that you fought for so valiantly during add/drop? Well fear not, for you are not alone. This is an image all too common every morning in the free parking here at LUMS. Every single one of you so called smarticle particles that got into this university for some eluding reason feel the need to park your car in the most buffalo way possible. Like, imagine a metal buffalo being parked by an elephant. That is the disaster that is the free parking.

Now, everyone and anyone can complain, as we have seen on LDF. No one really does anything. If anything, some of the complainers themselves are buffaloes. So let ME, an unidentifiable chameleon of a thing, tell you what to do because 12 years of Pakistan’s formal education has obviously failed you. If you are an early bird, the jungle code of free parking dictates that you get to park anywhere you want. Now, this does not mean that you do not have rules to follow. So here in the following graphic I illustrate the available parking spots for you provided you find empty space there. If you botch this one up, you will be crowned king buffalo. (Buffaloes are female so I don’t know how kingship would work there but yeah…) You get to park anywhere in the green zones. Also applicable to the driver bathroom area and the second parking.

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Generally the early comers are not the issue its the lazy ones that come in late that are the most buffalo. You lot are the ones who park your car like a meth head cares for her infant son. Very poorly, I must say. You are not supposed to leave your car wherever you find even a centimeter of space. Half the space in the second parking is usually empty. Just park there and use that walk to lose the jiggles around your thighs. No one likes jiggly legs, unless you got dem beyonce thang thangs, which I know you don’t.

In conclusion, learn to walk!

Here are some of the brightest moments in our history. Bohot aage jao ge tum log.

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Happy vs. Meaningful Life – You can’t have both

The onset of summer break signals hot days, movie marathons, travelling and of course,  endless nights of crippling self-doubt and existentialism.

While the combination may seem far off, I find that in fact, summer and existentialist crises go hand in hand. The break from a high-pressure routine such as school or university means there is nothing tangible to worry about at night – no tests, quizzes or assignments. It’s 2:00 AM and your mind isn’t used to the freedom. Unable to relax, it grasps for the nearest thought to focus on. A haunting, perhaps age-old question reveals itself – what is your purpose in life?

The floodgates are open now…

Are you on the right path? Should you be doing something else? What are your palpable goals and how do you reach them? What is the endgame? Where is this strange pattern of never-ending day and night trying to take us? At what point do you feel satisfied with yourself?

“I know what I want,” you say, “It’s easy. I just want to have a happy, meaningful life.”

Actually…it’s not that simple. Everyone’s goal in life, it seems, is ‘to be happy’. However, the question of purpose still arises. Is it possible to live a happy life yet still find meaning from it? Can you be both content with yourself and have a positive effect on society?

The short answer is no, not really.

The subcategory of positive psychology has expanded on the purpose of life thoroughly, breaking away from the cycle of mental disease and hardship that the science is famous for. In a research study by Roy Baumeister, it was found that almost all long-term goals people hold – finding a good job, getting married, becoming rich – come under the subcategories of ‘happy’ or ‘meaningful’. Overlap exists but the differences are more perceptible. Happiness and meaningfulness are therefore two roads that begin at the same path but have clearly divergent directions.

Happiness is the simpler concept. It is a natural emotion, something every human around the world wants to achieve and it transcends species; animals can be happy too. You see this when dogs wag their tails or cats purr. When our basic needs are met, we are happy. When we eat good food, sleep more than 8 hours, find love or companionship, we are happy. Therefore, at the most basic level, happiness can be directly related to our evolutionary needs. Baumeister’s research paper further defines happiness as fleeting and focused on the present. If someone has had a handful of memorable moments and experiences but are miserable right now, they would not define their lives as happy – the emotions of the present cloud their judgement. Lastly, the most important differentiation, those with a happy life were shown to have a relatively easy life and were takers rather than givers. Simple, self-oriented lives are the happiest, according to Baumeister.

Then there is a meaningful life, a far more complex idea. While happiness is innate, meaningfulness is dependent on the society around you. It is culturally significant and grounded in values built by generations. We find meaning in different things and it varies from person to person, country to country. Another key difference is that meaning is found by thinking not just of the present, but of the past and future. The time continuum plays a bigger role here than in defining happiness. When deriving meaning from an act, we are usually concerned about the long term effect and work towards a future goal. The impact of a meaningful action also lasts longer then momentary happiness. Additionally, those who strive to live meaningful lives are naturally givers. Baumeister reports that they have to deal with higher levels of stress, worry and challenges in order to meet their goals. They are also reported as being significantly less happy than others and have gone through difficult experiences. This is clear when you think about political activists, parents with children or volunteers. These are all people who are doing something they believe is meaningful and sacrificing peace of mind to add value to society.

To quote Baumeister, “Humans may resemble many other creatures in their striving  for happiness, but the quest for meaning is a key part of what makes us human, and uniquely so”.

Of course, in the real world, it is difficult to separate happiness and purpose with such a clear line. Nobody is going to live only a happy life or only a purposeful life, but we do lean towards one or the other. The decisions we make and the goals we prioritize are clear indicators of what is more important to us. There is no right answer.

After all, we are all as clueless as each other in this strange game of life and although some might act like it, nobody has figured out the cheat codes to ‘win’ a successful, happy, meaningful life – whichever you prefer.

(Read the journal here: http://faculty-gsb.stanford.edu/aaker/pages/documents/SomeKeyDifferencesHappyLifeMeaningfulLife_2012.pdf)

10 Ways in which College is Different from School

  1. You lose your ability to wake up for class:

    It’s true. Whether your first class is at 8 am or 12 pm, waking up on time will be a challenge tantamount to getting admitted to the university itself. Even if you got the same number of hours of sleep in your school days and managed to wake up at 6 am nonetheless, you won’t succeed once in college. No one knows the science behind this but it is something we’ve stopped questioning.
  2. You learn to reset your internal clock upon whim:
    Gone are the days when your body responded to a fixed schedule. Upon entering college, you have now been granted the amazing ability to sleep and eat at any time, place or dimension. You can survive on no sleep, and you can sleep off 24 hours. You can starve the whole day in the library, and you can eat a football team’s worth of Cheetos at a time. It’s like magic!
  3. You can’t leave off revising until final exams:
    Most school systems work in a way where final exams are either externalized or constitute the major percentage of your grade, so you can manage slacking off the entire academic year if you pick up your pace at the very end. Sadly, university doesn’t work that way, and by losing out on attendance, quizzes and various other assignments you basically lose out on a good overall grade. In an ideal situation, you should study well consistently throughout the semester. (You do, however, have greater chances of bs’ing your way through exams and essays more than you ever did in school!)
  4. You need to work to make friends in class:

    How it usually goes for me trying to make new friends as an adult

    In school, you are likely to fall into a routine with the classmates you see and sit with every day. While this also happens in college, the shortness of the semester and the diversity of your classes makes it a little harder to get to know new people. It also gets complicated when courses are open to more than your own academic year. In order to avoid being isolated by already established friend groups within a class, you need to make an effort to interact with everyone you see and strike up friendly conversations on topics of common interest.

  5. Budgeting is a thing:

    But budgeting is always a thing, you say. Of course it is. Budgeting in college, however, is slightly more complicated – especially if you’re a hostelite. Handling your finances well is something you should always be concerned about because frankly, no one else will be. You know your own budget, needs and capacities, so it’s best not to let others stray you from your well-calculated financial plan when you’ll be the only one facing consequences. Some splurging is always enjoyable when affordable, but living out the “broke college kid” trope is never fun.
  6. You have unprecedented levels of freedom:

    This can be both a good and a bad thing. Why? Because freedom entails *gag* responsibility. Either way, it’s exhilarating to not be answerable for each and everything you do throughout the day, whether you’re a day-scholar or a hostelite. Being a “college student” brings with it a certain expectation of “adultness” that lets you get away with so much you couldn’t do before. Rejoice, because you’ve earned it.
  7. You sometimes miss your lack of freedom:

    Everything has a catch, doesn’t it? While being free of unnecessary restraints is well and good, there will be times when you’ll crave to be treated like a kid who can be absolved of all responsibility. After all, you’re still a child at heart who needs someone to pamper you, feed you, handle your finances and make important decisions for you.
  8. Everything has bigger consequences:

    Failed a final? Whoop, there goes your CGPA. Got into a fight? Cool, this suspension would look nice on your CV. Got into a relationship? Cue secret mental calculations about chances of someday getting married (wait, what? I’m still a kid!) to current significant other. It is a fact that everything that takes place during your college years is of greater overall significance as compared to your school days because (a) you are expected to own up to all your actions and pay for them and (b) your actions at this point in life directly lead towards your dreaded “real” life as an adult, with no buffer in between.
  9. You get a chance to reinvent yourself if you want to:

    For those who spend their entire childhoods within a single city, community or school, it is very easy to fall into a certain role or character that can define you as a person. College can give you a chance to reevaluate your wants, needs and fears and act accordingly by embracing all sorts of new opportunities thrown at you. You can break away from any self-imposed mental constraints and start afresh without the fear of judgment or appraisal.
  10. You value friends and family more than ever:
    This is likely the most eventful time of your lived life, and you will undoubtedly go through various transformative experiences. Since no experience is really an experience unless shared, it is important to have a strong backbone of loved ones to fall back on whenever needed. In times of tears or laughter, desperation or exhilaration, you will form relationships of an unmatchable strength. Cherish them.

How to make the most of your Freshman Year

First things first freshmen, whether LUMS was your backup plan or first choice, landing here is quite a feat and so for that, we insist you give yourselves a round of applause. Now that you’ve given yourself the appreciation you deserve, the real question arises. What do you do to make the most of your time here?  New place, new people, new life; sure, it sounds exciting but it is undeniably perplexing too, not to mention intimidating. But don’t you worry, you’re not alone. We’ve all been here and we know the feel all too well.

You’ve probably been told at some point that you can make life into whatever you choose to. Trite, we know, borderline annoying too but trust us, these words have never before held greater meaning. Never before would you have had the degree of independence you will enjoy today but of course, this is accompanied by an array of choices. Make them wisely.

You’re all new to this and you’re feeling a similar kind of alienation. That’s alright. Just try to get acquainted with as many people as you can so you find the ones you can safely call your friends, your own. Don’t be afraid to befriend someone just because they seem different or you carry some preconceived notions about their school/city. You never know who you’ll click with. So go ahead, take the first step and say hello.

GPA though important is extremely overrated. It’s like another one of the O/A level ruts you were dying to get out of. Read bold: Do not get stuck into it again. Do not. Unlike O/A level, grading is not dependent upon a couple of final examinations but on a number of things. You will have quizzes, class participation and before you know it, midterms arrive! Then presentations and bam, finals and papers but this varies from course to course, obviously. It is absolutely necessary for you to acclimatize yourselves to this change in grading. Work hard but work smart. There will always be work but you must incorporate a fair percentage of play – oh yes, the fun bit—into your lives. You will not remember nor care for long about that one quiz you screwed up but what you will remember is laughing away at the khokha with your friends. Do not live today half heartedly just because you’re in the pursuit of a better tomorrow. No one promised tomorrow anyway.

So try to do something new every day. Go on a weekend trip. Ride a bicycle around campus. Sit on the poondi bench (we know you secretly or not so secretly want to). Read a book beneath a tree. Play basket ball. Join a society. Volunteer for a duty. Compliment someone. Treat yourself to Buddies (the LUMS version of KFC, only better and cheaper). Remember: The most important kind of learning happens outside the classroom.

Additionally, don’t fret too much over your major. You have a year to decide so take courses of your liking – unless you’re from SDSB and are force enrolled in most courses– and make your decision, yourself.  It is your life and at the end of the day, it is you who’s responsible for your happiness. You’re studying Economics but you think you like History more? Take up a course or two and find out for yourself. Give yourself the opportunity to explore. Don’t clip your own wings. Make time for introspection. It is healthy to spend time chilling at the khokha but it is also essential to just walk alone. Find solace in solitude. Pay the library a visit every now and then. Just be careful though; too much of anything will be toxic.

The key is to strike a balance, dear freshmen – and LUMS will guarantee you the best time of your life.

Things You Should Know Before O-Week

Orientation Week, lovingly known as O-Week, is something that is celebrated in most colleges around the world to ease you into the next transformative years of your life as gently as possible. It may also been seen as a clever ruse to tricking you into believing that your life is no longer a mess and all that is to follow is fun and games. Some describe it as the highlight of their college experience, some look back at it as the most cringe-worthy period of their existence, and heck, some simply don’t bother attending. While the perspectives may vary, one thing is clear: you don’t forget your O-Week, and for good reason. It is a time of exhilaration and apprehension; new beginnings and naivety. No one can ever truly prepare you for it, but I’ll try my best by providing you with this handy dandy guide on making the most of O-Week.

Alright kids, here’s a non-exhaustive list of things you should know:

1) First of all, try to be as well-rested as possible before it all starts. It would also do you good to stack up on some of those multivitamins your mom insists on you eating, because trust me, you’ll be needing those. After a summer spent lazing around, your body is very much likely to cripple under the weight of ~12 hours of activities – I have not yet come across a single person who hasn’t complained about aching limbs and an overall dead-ness by the end of Day 1. You will feel pain erupting from muscles you never knew you possessed, and you’ll discover all the new and exciting ways in which a single shoulder can hurt. Early mornings coupled with late nights for a continuous week would guarantee a loss of strength and you will most likely find yourself experiencing early signs of aging. Lethargy will be your middle name. But of course, it’ll all be worth it.

2) Dress for comfort. You’ll probably dress up really nicely the first day in honour of the opening ceremony, but you might want to take your sanity into consideration for the rest of the week. Remember: the days will be long, hot and exhausting. Most importantly, do yourself a favour and please wear comfortable walking shoes that will last you the day without pinching your toes or stabbing your heels. That nice pair of ballet flats that you trust for everyday-wear? Throw it away. Or be ready to experience betrayal of the most painful kind. Your best bet is a nice pair of sneakers or boots that will survive the long walks you’ll be taking all around campus all day long.

3) Have an open mind. It is highly likely that your O-week group would be entirely made up of strangers, many with interesting personalities. I know that you would rather ditch your group to go hang out with your old school buddies, but please, please don’t. Not only would you miss out on a lot of awkward-yet-endearing bonding, you would also be doing yourself the disservice of narrowing your boundaries at the very beginning of a new experience. So just let go of preconceived prejudices, see beyond how “weird” someone may be and simply try to have a nice time with people who are just as nervous and excited as you are. You are no better or no worse than anyone else around you; don’t forget that you all made it here through a similar procedure, and you all deserve to have a good time.

4) Listen, loosen up. It has probably been a long time since you’ve experienced a “first”, and it is entirely normal for you to be nervous in a new environment. But here’s the thing: no one knows you. You are a blank slate right now and it is entirely up to you how you present yourself to the world. If anything has ever held you back in life or made you second-guess your every move, let go of it. O-week gives you the chance to experience “firsts” you never thought you could, so give yourself a break. Whether it’s singing in public, or participating in group sports, or simply divulging a never-uttered secret to your group-mates in the middle of the night, just do it. No one’s judging.

5) Know that your O-week does not necessarily set the pace for the rest of your college years. If you had the misfortune of meeting not-so-good people in this first week and experiencing difficulties fitting in, know that it gets better. If you experienced an exciting high that first week only for it to fade into a mundane routine, know that it is perfectly normal too. As far as people go, you might end up meeting your best friends that first week. Or maybe you hardly wave at your group-mates as you pass them by in hallways. Either way, your shared experience of entering this university as oblivious newbies is not going to fade for the rest of your life, and that’s a special bond you’ll always share. As for the rest of your academic life? You’ll survive that too.

6) At the end of the day, you define your own O-week experience and it’s up to you to make the most of it. You’ll meet enough people in that first week to run you through the essential do’s and don’ts about things from food choices to the woes of course enrollment (tip: become best-friends with your o-week coaches!), so it’s best not to worry yourself sick over things you’ll catch up on later. Right now is the time to breathe, relax, and look forward to the beginning of the most unforgettable time of your life. Congratulations to YOU for making it this far – there’s a long way to go and just so much to do, so you better buckle up for a fun ride!