When Les Anges Montessori Academy started nearly 40 years ago in the basement of my great-grandmother’s home in Lahore’s then leafy Gulberg, the world was a very different place.  Though man had (apparently) charted a course to the moon just a few years earlier, we were living in relatively simple times.  If you had told somebody then that, one day, all information known to humankind could be searched in a split second on a liquid-crystal display, that telephones would fit in the palm of your hands, work without wires and play movies, that watches would measure your pulse and potentially send health updates to your doctor’s watch (and probably Mark Zuckerberg’s) and that you could marvel at your Birmingham-born grandchild’s first footsteps in real time – all the way from Gujrat – and that it would all be completely free, they’d have told you to go hang out with Captain Kirk.  Yet, in today’s world, you can do all this and much more for a fraction of the cost of— well, nothing, since you couldn’t very well do any of it in 1975.

As the world has evolved, so too have schools, because schools are a reflection of our changing needs.  Other than the physicality of it – for instance, the sad reality that Gulberg is no longer terribly leafy (thanks, in some measure, to two gentleman whom Freud might have argued were transport-deprived as children) – much else has changed in ways that are both physical and deeply psychological.  For one, schools are no longer the ‘carefree’ places we imagine them to be, with advanced weaponry now as fundamental to the landscape as advanced math, and dropping off your child’s forgotten lunchbox about as simple as visiting an inmate at a prison – an experience I well remember as a child, but that story’s already been told (http://archives.dailytimes.com.pk/editorial/20-Jul-2002/a-hitchhiker-s-guide-the-perfect-compromise-low-cool-kasim-kasuri).  And what of the psychological impact of growing up in this idyllic situation? What of the child who is just too nervous to go back to school after a long summer break and the mother who wishes she didn’t have to send him, but must instead offer hollow assurances?

As school administrators, we face the unenviable task of maintaining the balance between the fortification of school buildings and its impact on the psychological wellbeing of children, teachers and parents. The scariest part? There’s no textbook for this; we are truly learning by doing.

Ladies and gentlemen, schools have changed – and they’re not changing back anytime soon. But what does this have to do with the School of Tomorrow? Simply this: if ‘learning’ is to once again become the raison d’etre of a school, then schools have a lot to learn.  I do not pretend to know the answers but I know that the ‘schools of tomorrow’ had better have some answers unless we want to raise a generation of nervous wrecks.

I am also inspired to understand the emerging yet powerful pull of media and technology on our children – and am simultaneously curious about how we, as educators, need to respond. Let me illustrate with a small anecdote: a few years ago, I walked into my children’s playroom where I found Kyan, then aged 5, and his non-Urdu speaking nanny Evangeline watching ‘Dora the Explorer’ on some unknown cable channel.  (For those without young children, Dora is a popular children’s show about an exasperating little bilingual girl who speaks English and Spanish, aimed largely at the US market.) However, on this strange cable channel, Dora was entirely dubbed in a foreign language that I couldn’t even begin to recognise. When I asked Evangeline what on earth they were doing, she replied chirpily ‘Oh, Kyanu and I are learning Urdu!’ While this odd little vignette will hopefully not creep into more normal Pakistani households, my broader point is that media has led a cultural invasion into our homes that is so insidious that we don’t yet understand its full implications. Whether it’s Dora bombarding our heads with ‘uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco’, or the equally annoying Japanese cat Doremon moaning and groaning in Hindi, our children’s brains are constantly being bombarded with a heady mix of visual, linguistic and cultural confusion.

There is simply too much we need to understand – whether it’s news channels flashing graphic images that are inappropriate even for adults, “talk shows” showcasing screeching politicians who are no role models for anyone, minute-to-minute live coverage of the latest disaster, or inappropriate Internet content. The impact of today’s media on developing minds is a powerful force that cannot be ignored by the schools of tomorrow, unless they wish to be complete ostriches.

And now onto my love-hate relationship with technology, a pendulum that moves from day to day:  should you really be proudly bragging to your friends that your 1-year-old can switch on your iPad all by herself? Is finger swiping on a glass surface a necessary and sufficient motor skill for your toddler? Is there any connection between the excessive use of digital devices and – say – obesity, shyness, social awkwardness, anxiety, learning disorders, depression or some other mental illness we’d rather not think about? Are the doomsayers that are posing these questions simply miffed that they didn’t have access to the same gadgets when they were growing up? Why do they stubbornly keep overlooking the obvious benefits of technology? Should you really worry if it’s okay for your 10-year-old to be on Facebook?  Is it true that Steve Jobs did not allow his own children to use the iPad?  What are the benefits and pitfalls of social media for the very young? Is there any such thing as an online predator, or is it yet another monster that Western parents have invented to keep their kids away from the Internet?  (After all, nobody preys on children in Pakistan, right?) How can our children derive the maximum benefit from digital technologies without being exposed to any of this stuff?

So what does all this mean? Clearly, the potential pitfalls posed by unhindered access to media and technology are not as obvious as the threats discussed in my opening thoughts.  But here’s the difference: unlike the former, the more recent scenes are being played out in every home that I know – day in, day out, unmonitored, unknown.  And yet, high technology is humankind’s most glittering achievement; it is what keeps our race moving forward. So what do we do?

I don’t know, but I certainly hope that the parents, teachers and schools of tomorrow can reflect on these questions and make necessary adjustments before it’s too late.  We need to continuously challenge all our ideas, even those very progressive notions we picked up in the 1990s and have held dear for so long – truths beyond question!  And we need to understand that all of today’s emerging forces (of which I’ve only touched upon a few) will truly mean the end of education – as we know it.

End of Part I.

This is hopefully the first in a few posts about the School of Tomorrow. Given this blog’s track record, however, it may also be the last. 


The last couple of months have been quite eventful for me – so much so that I did not get time to write a blog post even though I had much to report…

In January, for the second time in two years, I found myself in Davos, a town with the superpower of making regular people feel invisible (I should have borrowed Bilawal’s Superman T-shirt). Nestled in the Swiss Alps about 2 hours from Zurich Airport, Davos has played host to the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for so long that its name has become synonymous with this annual event.  And what indeed is the World Economic Forum?  While a detailed introduction from its founder Professor Claus Schwab may be found at http://www.weforum.org/our-mission, the simple yet astounding mission of this remarkable organization is that they are ‘committed to improving the state of the world’.  Plain and simple.  Clearly the Swiss do not subscribe to the British understatement.

Davos is perhaps the only place on earth where all forms of celebrities unite in uneasy proximity – from Hollywood royalty to real royalty; from heads of state to the shining stars of the business and tech worlds and just about everyone else in between. However, while celebrity-spotting is an unacknowledged sport at Davos, it is not a very competitive one because so many people attending the Annual Meeting are instantly recognizable – from Matt Damon and Goldie Hawn and Bono leading the ‘entertainment sector’ this year to David Cameron, John Kerry, Al Gore, and many more… For those with purely capitalist concerns, the likes of Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson featured in many talks ranging from trade policy to climate change and poverty alleviation.

Amidst this constellation of global leaders, who was missing? None other than Mr Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, who had confirmed his attendance at the Annual Meeting months ago, only to back out days before (though, having witnessed Mr Yusuf Raza Gilani field questions regarding Pakistan’s response to its floods on a panel discussion on disaster risk management in Davos in 2012 – I think it was probably a case of ‘personal disaster risk management’ that Mr Sharif decided to stay out of the limelight.)  As a consequence, Pakistan was amongst the few countries that was not adequately represented at this important gathering.  (The ostensible reason for Mr Sharif’s absence was the January attack on security personnel in Bannu… but word has it that Mr Sharif’s office lost contact with the World Economic Forum’s staff much before that.)

While I encountered a number of important people (who I’m sure were less thrilled to meet me), there is one such incident that stands out in my mind.  An impressive shuttle bus network connects the various Davos hotels and ‘third-party venues’ with each other and the main Congress Center.  One evening, while returning from a sparingly-attended ‘Pakistan Community Dinner’ with Fabien Clerc (WEF manager and friend), our small shuttle bus stopped at one of the appointed stops (which, I suppose, is what shuttle buses do..) and in stepped a very elegantly dressed lady.  Davos decorum requires delegates to exchange pleasantries – even if that were not customary, it is not possible to simply ignore someone seated directly across you (the shuttle buses just have a long sedan-like seat with 2 facing bucket seats).  It turned out that our ‘hum-safar’ was the First Lady of a small European nation (which shall remain nameless).  When I enquired out of genuine surprise why she was not being transported in a private car like all the other heads of state/government and their spouses, she replied “my husband is not officially attending Davos this year so we didn’t want to burden the Swiss government with cars and security detail, you know!”  Actually I did not know. When I asked where the husband was, I was in for another surprise.  She was supposed to pick him him at the train station tomorrow, where he was arriving as her spouse! She asked Fabien for directions to the Davos train station.  (Attempts at juxtaposition with our own VVIPS are simply inadequate.)

In more recent news, the Pak Rupee has finally shown some solid gains over the US Dollar (fashionably referred to as the greenback by seasoned commentators – which I am not).  My excitement was temporarily punctured by my gym trainer who cheekily said to me ‘Aap ka toh bohat Loss hua ho ga, dollar neechay aa geya hae!”  I resisted the urge to slap him in the knowledge that he’d probably increase the speed on the treadmill.   The truth is, I am beyond thrilled that the Rupee is gaining on the Dollar for a change.  I hope it is a sign of better times for the country.

April 3:  2 months later, after whirlwind visits to Dubai, Sahiwal, Okara, Karachi, and several schools in Lahore, I am back in Europe for a few days (ah, the trials and tribulations of heading Beaconhouse!) – currently whizzing underwater in a ‘Eurostar’ train in a tunnel that connects the UK with France and the rest of Western Europe.  I have no doubt that such advancements in transport would be greatly appreciated by our ever-enterprising prime minister!  (I hear the World Transport Conference is looking to fill a spot on a panel discussion?  If so, they have better luck than the World Economic Forum.)

Until next time, dear readers, whenever that is… For now, I can barely believe that the first quarter of 2014 already belongs to the past.  Is it just me, or didn’t this year just begin?


I think I may just have set a world record – even for myself.  Though I am currently cruising at 500 mph from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, having just officiated the groundbreaking of a new building for Beaconhouse-Newlands Kuala Lumpur (http://goo.gl/I9BKEb), I may as well have written my blog 8 months ago (last entry) and put it on a donkey tasked to circumnavigate the globe before personally delivering it to the editing team of TBT. Indeed, as Mr Bilawal Bhutto Zardari recently declared, if the UK can have the Royal Ascot and the Arabs can have their camel races, why can’t Pakistan launch the Donkey Derby – as part of the proposed Sindh Festival? Perhaps I will request young Bilawal to follow up on this gem so that my future blogs may reach TBT a little sooner. (For those who are confused by all this talk of Bilawal and donkeys: this was an elaborate apology to all TBT readers who have had to suffer the ‘CE’s Blog’ advertisement for the greater part of 2013.)

In other news: each time I visit Malaysia – which too I may hold some kind of secret record for – I cannot help but marvel at the progress that the country has made since it gained independence in August 1957 – exactly ten years after Pakistan.  We have all heard stories of the eager government delegation from Malaysia that visited Pakistan in the 1960s to learn how Pakistan, then a fledgling country, had made so much progress since its inception. Older Pakistanis recall that Malay nobility and would-be kings, lacking solid schooling opportunities in their own country, used to study at boarding schools in Pakistan in the ‘60s and ‘70s.  (I have heard more than once from a certain uncle how he shared a classroom with a future Malay king at Aitchison College – though this is sadly not such a huge claim to fame since nine of Malaysia’s thirteen states have sultans – and they get 5-year stints at being king.) So then what happened? Why is it that today, Malaysia is one of Asia’s most sought-after destinations (‘Malaysia, Truly Asia!’) while Pakistan struggles to pay its foreign debt and is home to the TTP?  Why is Malaysian currency sitting pretty at 3.25 ringgits to a dollar while the PKR is falling down a spiral faster than finance minister Ishaq Dar can issue idiotic new promises? Why does Malaysia share the top spot (with Dubai) for Pakistanis wishing to invest abroad or live abroad?  (Let’s not even talk of Dubai which, at the time of Pakistan’s independence in 1947, was an obscure fishing village…)

The answer to all the ‘whys’ above is somewhat complex (though in some ways may be summed up by one word – leadership), but here is a small message of hope: how is it that a Pakistan-origin school network like Beaconhouse has made so much progress in Malaysia with 12 successful schools and preschools educating over 3,000 Malaysians? There is but one simple answer: the private education sector in Pakistan is more vibrant than it is in Malaysia, even today.  It is more competitive, more progressive, more student-centered and better aligned with emerging international practice in K-12 education.  Admittedly, this buoyancy is partially explained by the vacuum created by the failure of state sector schools in Pakistan, but to attribute it entirely to this phenomenon would be unfair because many other developing countries also have mediocre or poor state schools but few can boast the kind of private sector engagement in education that we see in Pakistan.  Case in point: the largest independent school network in Bangladesh, a country of comparable population and demographics, boasts about 6,000 students. Beaconhouse and its associate schools alone educate over a quarter of a million young people.

But what are we doing in Pakistan to celebrate this success?  Successive governments, having failed to improve the ‘state of state schools’ (despite some interesting claims from the Punjab government and their foreign consultants), have now decided to target independent schools. Certain sections of media and ‘civil society’ are not far behind. A popular talk show host (best known for his inflammatory shows) has recently vowed to do a series of shows “exposing” independent schools – including the one where his child studies (which makes one wonder why he doesn’t withdraw his child from that school if he is so disenchanted with it….but then this is the million-dollar question that defines these love-hate relationships between independent schools and their patrons who, despite their many grievances, will happily entrust their most precious asset – their children – to such schools).

So how did we get from the globetrotting donkey to here?

My point is that despite Malaysia’s many successes, there may be something that Pakistan is slightly better at.  Most expatriate Pakistani doctors, bankers and entrepreneurs, for instance, have benefited from private education in this country – whether from the missionary schools established by our former colonial masters or the many independent/private schools set up after partition or post-1978. Indeed, most of our politicians have attended independent schools – from the top leadership of the PPP to the PML(N) to the PTI (does Aitchison College ring a bell?  Did it not afford a certain Captain the opportunities that led him to attend Oxford or famously win the World Cup?)

So, as we approach the end of 2013, my one hope is that people may start to understand (if not fully appreciate) the many contributions of the independent education sector in Pakistan.  Yes, we charge money because good teachers are not cheap – nor do they offer their services free of cost; equally oddly, nobody seems willing to offer accommodation, electricity, and other essentials to independent schools at zero cost.

Anyway, here’s to a great 2014 – in Malaysia, Pakistan, and elsewhere – and may the Pakistan People’s Party’s Donkey Derby live up to our full expectations!  Perhaps this will compel the PML(N) to launch their own Gadha Games?



Crown Prince Haakon of Norway is a man who takes dignity very seriously.  Throughout the annual summit of ‘Global Dignity’ on 10-11 April at his gracious home near Oslo, we were treated not merely with dignity but as if each one of us was also the crown prince – or princess – of our respective principalities (which, I’m sure, some of us secretly believe we are!). It was all too easy to forget that the young man casually chairing the meeting of 20 Global Dignity Country Chairs and Organizational Partners was the future King of Norway – easy, that is, until one glanced upwards at the walls only to be stared down by great oil portraits of the former monarchs of Norway – or stumbled upon silver-framed, signed photographs of world leaders and European royals.

Although Beaconhouse has been an ‘Organizational Partner’ of Global Dignity for over a year (which means that we work with them in the 9 countries where we have schools), this trip was a bit of an eye-opener for me because, on the second day of the summit, I had the opportunity of attending an actual ‘Dignity Day’ event at Asker High School near CP Haakon’s home.  Not only did I ‘attend’ the Dignity Day but – unbeknownst to all of us – the CP and Thomas Horne, Global Dignity’s Norway head, had conspired to get each of us to conduct dignity sessions with small groups of students!  For this seemingly daunting task, I was paired with Katja Menzl, Global Dignity’s Country Chair from Germany and, together with the class teacher, we were marched into a classroom after a brief plenary session with the whole school – during which the Headmistress informed the assembled students how “lucky” they were to be personally counseled by the most accomplished Dignity experts from around the world (i.e., us…)!!  Katja, who turned out to be an absolute blessing, launched the session by informing the 26 Norwegian high schoolers in our group that “I have done many Dignity sessions in German but this is the first time I am conducting a session in English” – which gave me an opening to inform the students that, despite running 180 schools, it was the first time I was conducting a Dignity session in any language – which fortunately broke the ice and elicited a few laughs.

We started the session by asking the students what Dignity meant to them.  (Strangely enough, even for adults, this isn’t so easy to pin down – as we quickly discovered on day 1 of the meeting when we tried to develop an ‘elevator pitch’ for Global Dignity – i.e., a way of explaining the concept in under 60 seconds to unsuspecting funders and other potential stakeholders who may be fellow travelers in an elevator – or otherwise!).  Unsure what to make of us at first, the students gradually warmed up (a bit!) and started offering dignity derivatives like respect, honor, friendship, love, compassion, recognition, and the like.  Acting as if I had been teaching my whole life, I expertly drew a ‘mind-map’ on the white board with the word ‘Dignity’ in a bubble in the center (along with its Norwegian translation, ‘verdighet’) and kept adding new words around the bubble as the students excavated the many dimensions of dignity.  Once this exercise was over (we were armed with a rather elaborate lesson plan!), we moved on to the next activity in which students were expected to exchange dignity stories in small groups of 4 or 5 – that is, to recall instances where they either felt dignified or believed they had uplifted somebody else’s dignity.  Katja and I professionally circulated amongst the groups as they talked, generally to be met with amused looks and a momentary pause in chattering.  (Of course, we had no idea whether our Norwegian pupils were exchanging dignity stories or discussing how moronic we were as facilitators!)

Once this was over, we managed to convince/cajole/bully two students, Henrik and Siri (whose name is almost certainly misspelt), to tell their dignity stories before the entire assembly.  We were then at the final stage of our classroom activity: asking students to draft letters to their ‘future selves’ about actions they would take over the next one year to improve their dignity and that of others (these letters were subsequently sealed and given to the class teacher who assured us that he would return them to the students after 1 year, as per plan).

While our classroom experience alternated between ‘somewhat insightful’ and ‘highly amusing’, the most compelling part of ‘Dignity Day’ was yet to come.  As we all returned to the main hall with the rest of the school, two students from each class were asked to read out their ‘dignity stories’.  While some stories bordered on ‘silly’, as my good friend Veronica Colondam – Country Chair for Indonesia – rather publicly pointed out (“I helped a cat cross the street and felt dignified – or the cat did”), others moved us to near-tears.  I was silenced to my core to hear a half-Norwegian/half-Swede student talk about how he was bullied for years in Norway (Sweden and Norway share a checkered history) – to the extent that his Norwegian classmates created a game called ‘Kill the Swede’… and how he overcame this trauma with his dignity intact.  We were equally unprepared to hear another adolescent’s story of how he discovered that his “preferences” were very different from the norm – and how, as a result, even his former friends turned against him.  I cannot applaud enough the courage of these youngsters to be able to talk about such deeply personal issues in front of their entire school – and then face the entire school the following day.  That, to me, is the meaning of true dignity.

It is my firm belief that if Dignity Days continue to be observed at Asker High School (and indeed other schools around the world), it will inevitably lead to an environment of greater tolerance and respect – and should have a direct and positive impact on the many occupational hazards of being a student, not least of which is the ugliness of bullying.  It is no surprise, therefore, that this experience has redoubled my commitment to Global Dignity at Beaconhouse (and hopefully, in 2013, at The Educators as well).

Other than the school visit, we shared best practices and held strategic discussions on the future of Global Dignity: how to scale it to every country in the world, how to get more funding, how to capture the imagination of the global media, how to convince others to come on board, and so on.  All this was interspersed by (what seemed like) Michelin-starred meals (especially an exquisitely cooked fillet of salmon and a ‘2013 tiramisu’) that were possibly sufficient to make even the biggest cynic swear eternal allegiance to Global Dignity!  When I candidly told the CP that the food at his home was beyond restaurant-quality, he answered with his trademark humility: “Yes, we’re very fortunate to have such a good cook.”  As for the elevator pitch, the best that my working group could come up with was ‘We help young people understand the importance of dignity, something that is universally felt and embraced but hard to articulate’ – a statement that led the delightfully flamboyant co-founder of Global Dignity, John Hope Bryant, to quip “that’s no elevator pitch – you can even say that between two floors!”

As I leave Oslo for Brussels (for reasons unknown!), I feel deeply grateful to the Global Dignity family for the amazing work that it is doing across the world and can safely say that, under the leadership of Crown Prince Haakon, at least Norway’s new generation appears to be in good hands.  I only hope that, as we approach general elections in Pakistan next month, our political leadership can also begin to contemplate issues of real substance.  God knows, we could do with a bit of dignity all around.


I am sometimes reminded by my mother that, when she was the CE of Beaconhouse, she used to visit every school, every year (I’m sure you can imagine how the rest of this conversation goes..!).  I will often reply (in a manner that can best be described as ‘cautiously defensive’) that we are now a much larger organization with increasingly complex demands (confirmed by the existence of an endless list of mysterious acronyms such as ETAC, ADEC, PBL, SLICT, EBITDA, DTWICT, RPD, ERP, TNS, AST, SIS, HEX, TBT, EYE, ELD, SOT – the list goes on and on!) and are operating in not 4, nor 8, but Nine countries … but, deep down, it continues to rankle me that I am not able to visit schools as frequently as I should because, at the end of the day, even I know that the only acronym that really matters is ‘BSS’.

A couple of years ago, I started to think how wonderful it would be if I could ‘virtually’ engage with all teachers across BSS – and hear back from them.  I realized it would still be a poor substitute for actually visiting schools but felt it would be far better than zero contact with the people who matter most.  This idea has taken many manifestations in my mind.

A case in point: a couple of years ago, I called the Head of IT, Mr Aslam Sharif, into my office and demanded that a video wall with multiple monitors be installed in my office that would provide me with live feeds from classrooms across Beaconhouse – with the ability to tune into audio as well – so that I could see – and hear – what the teacher in 3-Red in Gulshan Primary II, for instance, was saying to little Muneeb Hassan (Eeeeek – say the teachers!).  Aslam Sharif looked at me like I was a misguided voyeur but instantly assured me that this was eminently doable.

On another (less insane) occasion, I told him that I wanted an Internet-enabled system for talking to all teachers and hearing back from them – in real time.

As often happens, this was all pushed into the black hole of ‘KK’s unfulfilled desires’ by the mundane demands of day-to-day existence – such as dealing with the escapades of LDA (another delightful acronym) and other such pursuits.

I was therefore delighted, a few days ago, to accept the joint offer of the Heads of Academics, Technology, and TBT to address every single teacher of Beaconhouse in one go through Internet-enabled live video streaming – a thought that resonated with some of my less fascist fantasies.

It was so that I walked into a transformed office on the morning of Friday 1st March.  Facing my desk was an oversized computer screen (to view incoming questions) and placed across me were an array of professional lights and cameras managed by a crew of technicians.  To my front right was Maryam Hasan, Head of TBT, who had planted herself in a temporary workstation and, in my attached meeting room, was one of her Editors, Rida.  The game plan was for me to address teachers and then field questions.  The questions would first come to Rida who would send the screened questions to Maryam who would ‘approve’ them so that they would appear on my computer screen.  I, in turn, was given the challenging task of pressing ‘Next’ to view and respond to each queued-up query.

Now, I’m no stranger to public speaking (occupational hazard) but it was somewhat disconcerting to address an audience of thousands of people by speaking into a camera.  Despite this slight weirdness (coupled with fleeting images of ‘Bertie’ addressing the entire British Empire through a suitably retro radio mike in ‘The King’s Speech’!), I think it would not be immodest to state that the overall experience was quite successful.  I’m told that I spoke for about 20 minutes and then answered 34 questions – all the way from Peshawar to Karachi and many places in between like Attock and Jhang.  My total audience consisted of 8,500 teachers, admin & office staff, and Heads in over 190 staff rooms in Beaconhouse schools across Pakistan.

After the experience, most schools reported that the video and sound reception were of a very good standard.  My wife, who had logged in from her Beaconhouse account at home, said that “it was so clear that I felt you were in the room.”  A few schools, as expected, had technology issues – mostly caused by inadequate Internet bandwidth at their end.  We will need to iron out these issues because I plan to use this medium in future to conduct focused discussions with different groups of people across Beaconhouse such as all Early Years Coordinators, Career Counselors, School Librarians, or A Level Students … groups that would otherwise never be able to meet in one physical location.  The possibilities are endless!

Congrats once again, in alphabetical order, to Mrs Haq, Ms Hasan, and Mr Sharif for making this happen – and for the simultaneous launch of the Learning Centre on TBT.  Who knows, maybe this will call for an addition to our canon of distinguished acronyms:  ‘iCEO’…?


Each time I open TBT, I am confronted with an oversized visual of my own face mocking me for not having written anything in this blog since December 2012 (yes, last year…) And now that the Mayan prediction has proved to be hogwash and 2013 is finally upon us, I must at least pretend to complete my series of vignettes about the School of Tomorrow conference in Kuala Lumpur before it’s no longer necessary and we have already reached that lofty destination.

Vignette:  The Garys of our Lives

Mrs Kasuri has just ended her welcome address (a minor miracle since she didn’t have a speech till the night before) and we are waiting for the keynote speaker.  ‘Will he or won’t he?’ is the question on everyone’s minds.  The ‘he’ is Richard Gerver and the question is whether he will be able to outdo his own keynote address to a mesmerized Beaconhouse audience in Lahore two years ago (at Beaconhouse, we get a bit emotional about our keynote speakers: in 2000 and 2005 it was Dr Roger Schank, and in 2010 and 2012 Richard Gerver).  As Richard walks to the gigantic stage, I note, with a twinge of envy, that he himself looks far less gigantic than he was in Lahore two years ago.  Richard tells us that his talk is going to be based on 3 stories.  He talks for 1 hour, infusing his magic into stories of everyday (yet exceptional) individuals whom he has encountered during the course of his career.  It is the story of Gary that I recall.

Richard’s first recollection of Gary was when he was a young schoolteacher and Gary was a 9-year-old in his class with severe disabilities including dyslexia and dyspraxia (the latter being a developmental disorder that leads to problems with movement and coordination).  However, Richard recalled that Gary’s problems did not affect his disposition – though the same could not be said of the adults around him – and narrated a story of when a popular children’s charity was doing a collection drive at the school.  Many children in Richard’s class donated a few pennies to the drive but, when it was Gary’s turn, Richard heard a loud ‘thud’ on his desk and, looking up, saw that Gary had donated his entire piggy bank (containing £70 – a veritable fortune 20 years ago – which he had been saving up to buy a bike).  Despite Richard’s protests, Gary would not take the money back.  Finally, when Richard called Gary’s mother at night, she told him in a resigned voice that she had been expecting his call and advised him not to try talking Gary out of donating the money – since she had failed.  She told him that Gary had told her that he would never enjoy riding the bike when he knew what else the money could have been used for.

Richard concluded this story by telling the audience about his last meeting with Gary, now an adult, in which he learnt about all the incredible work Gary had done since leaving school – including the empowerment of other people with disabilities.  I have of course not done justice to the many nuances of the story but, suffice it to say, many members of the audience were found dabbing their eyes with shared tissue paper.

For the general consensus on whether Richard Gerver outdid himself or not, see the final part of my SOT blogs which, given my track record, should hopefully appear around the time the Mayans are reincarnated and issue us a fresh date for Doomsday.

Vignette:  Setting Directions

I am nervous. Richard Gerver has just delivered his keynote address, leaving many members of the audience spellbound.  It’s most unfair because I cannot possibly expect to outdo him. (Note to self: do not go right after the keynote speaker next time.)  Thank heavens for the coffee break in between, I think; maybe Richard’s spell has been partially broken by the coma-inducing Malaysian snacks, both savory and sweet, that the audience has consumed in prodigious quantities.

Since we are still in the opening session of the conference, I am moderating a panel discussion called ‘Setting Directions’ that aims to look at the three key strands of the conference: early childhood education, progressive teaching and learning for primary school, and new models for teacher education & school leadership.  I hope that my panelists will lay the framework for the next 2 days and therefore help the audience understand these three key areas in the context of the ‘School of Tomorrow’.  On the panel are Alma Harris, world authority on professional learning communities, school transformation, and just about everything else; Pam (not Pamela!) Mundy, specialist on early childhood education; Diana Laufenberg, specialist on education technology & project-based learning; Zarina Mobarak, Regional Director for Beaconhouse Southeast Asia and, last but certainly not least, the indefatigable Richard Gerver (my secret agenda is to get him to talk as little as possible!).

I remind the panelists that the underlying theme of our 2012 Conference is ‘Empowering Lifelong Learners’ and request them to try to frame their inputs in this context.

As it is not possible to summarize the entire panel discussion in this vignette, I have taken one or two key messages from each panelist below in my own words.

Alma Harris:  We need to look at teacher education in a very different sense. Gone are the days when you could inject an occasional dose of ‘teacher training’ in a running school and expect results. We need to form professional learning communities in schools in which teachers and school leaders work together to solve everyday problems and discuss pedagogy.  To a question on the increasingly complex roles of school heads (and whether they should focus on being ‘instructional leaders’ or overall managers), Ms Harris concluded that today’s schools call for ‘distributed leadership’ wherein one person is not expected to have to deliver on all fronts.

Diana Laufenberg: An expert in education technology and project-based learning, Ms Laufenberg agreed that a key challenge in moving towards a project-based learning environment was not students but in fact teachers who had, for the most part, attended traditional schools themselves.  She added that, in her previous role as a social studies teacher at the Science Academy in Philadelphia, the ‘end result’ for her class was not a summative assessment (i.e, final test) but the Project because that helped teachers determine if students had in fact been able to internalize and apply the knowledge that they had learnt.  Later during the conference, Ms Laufenberg noted that project-based learning “doesn’t devalue information, but it [information] doesn’t stop there…”, suggesting that information/knowledge is only of real value if students can apply it in their everyday lives or to solve real problems.

Pam Mundy: A specialist on early years education, Pam spoke about the importance of the physical environment.  She said that children learn best in classrooms full of rich resources that have been carefully selected and strategically placed within the room, thus enabling exploration and on-the-spot learning.  Such creative, positive environments must be enhanced by competent adults – who also need to be just as carefully selected!  I had also hoped to ask Pam about ‘bilingual proficiency’ at a young age and was thinking, in particular, of our schools where the primary medium of education is generally English while the mother tongue may be Bahasa or Urdu or Arabic but, unfortunately, this question did not come up.  I did, however, get a chance to discuss this with our Early Years Head, Saira Mubashir Butt, who was of the view that “ideally”, children need a strong foundation in their mother tongue before the introduction of a second language.  Since we know that most 3-year olds do not yet have a strong foundation in their mother tongue, Saira feels that the best way of supporting them is to have one teacher in the classroom who speaks English and another, perhaps the assistant, who speaks in the mother tongue so that the child does not at any point feel inadequate on account of his or her inability to communicate in English.  But the main question remains – should Beaconhouse be moving away from its current model of ‘English immersion’ in the early years and, if so, how would this be received by parents and indeed the ‘market’?

Zarina Mobarak:  I finally had our Regional Director for Southeast Asia, Zarina Mobarak, on the spot – a position I seldom find her in!  I questioned Ms Mobarak on the Malaysian government’s politically-motivated and much-criticized flip-flopping between English and Bahasa as the primary medium of instruction and wondered, along with other speakers, if politics should have a role in education?  The general consensus, not surprisingly, was that politics and electioneering should not influence public policy if one is to effect long-term, sustainable change.  (This is a lesson that Pakistan also needs to learn – badly.) We all agreed that if the entire direction of Beaconhouse, for instance, had changed every 4-5 years, along with its entire management, it would most likely not have been a fraction of the scale that it is today.  However, this is exactly what happens with public sector education policy in many developing countries – a new government comes in and throws out the baby with the bathwater.

Ms Mubarak also stressed that the Malaysian Government’s latest Education Blueprint already encourages project-based learning and lifelong learning.  I was a little skeptical about the government’s ability to deliver on some of these ideals, though I kept my views to myself at the time – after all, we were addressing an almost exclusively Malaysian audience!

Richard Gerver:  Although Richard Gerver did not make an opening statement (since he had only just delivered his keynote address), he seemed happy to address any number of questions – both from myself and the audience. I wanted to know, for instance, how we would create classrooms that are student-centered and progressive when the bottom line for most teachers remains test scores?  I also asked what Key Skills, in his view, needed to be taught to students so that they would thrive in the 21st century… and finally, I may have asked him (my memory is far from perfect!) if creativity, an attribute he talks of a lot, can indeed be taught? For Richard’s responses (and indeed for my correct questions!), please see the video segment of ‘Setting Directions’ which is now online!

On this occasion, I decided to skip my ‘Rapid Fire Questions’ (wherein I ask all panelists a series of question that they must reply with a quick yes or no) which resulted in Mrs Haq, Director of Studies, reminding me how I was “so much better” in Lahore in 2010!

Needless to say, ‘Setting Directions’ ended with a number of new questions being posed and, while a few were briefly answered during the panel discussion, the majority continued to be addressed during the 2-day conference and indeed thereafter.


In my future blog posts: I will come back to my School of Tomorrow ‘vignettes’ quite frequently (my thoughts on ‘Curry Spice’, for instance, are way overdue!) but will now also move on to other matters. 


I started writing this on my way back from Kuala Lumpur on 25 November but it has taken me a few days to begin to collect my thoughts.

To attempt to summarize ‘School of Tomorrow: Empowering Lifelong Learners’ (20-21 November 2012, Kuala Lumpur) in a few blog posts would be an injustice – perhaps as unfitting as my ‘vote of thanks’ at the closing of the conference in which I cleverly forgot to thank the most important constituents in the room – The Student Superstars – but I’ll talk about that later!  For now, I’ll just say that this oversight was caused partly by my heightened consciousness to ‘wrap up’ before the 37 long minutes I took in Lahore (2010) but equally due to frazzled nerves: just before I was due to speak, I noticed a giant stain (which was probably visible from the moon) on my suit jacket, causing me to rush upstairs to my hotel room and change into a blazer – which, ten minutes later, ended up missing its most visible button – thus prompting a second wardrobe change!

So it was that I stood before the august gathering of 500 educators at 5 pm on 21 November, literally a ‘changed man’, trying frenetically to bring together the multiple and multilayered threads of thought generated by the 35 amazingly talented speakers and panelists at our latest SOT conference.

Through this blog, I shall aim to present a few snapshots of the conference in the form of a series of vignettes (a fancy word I like to use that basically means ‘pointless little stories without plots.’).  Hopefully, this should prove to be a smarter (and less taxing) strategy than attempting an ambitious summary.

KL: 19 November

Vignette 1: The most important meal of the day?

Anyone who knows me will readily agree that I am anything but a morning person.  It was thus a shock to my system to find myself in the deserted studios of TV7 in Shah Alam (on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur) at 6.52 am on 19 November, the day before the conference, for a breakfast show (in which ‘breakfast’ proved to be myth).  I was joined on this ‘breaking dawn’ expedition by Dr. Kathryn Riley of the University of London’s Institute of Education (one of our speakers) and her daring husband Roberto, along with our handlers Tabraiz Bokhari of Beaconhouse and ‘Pandora’ of Group M (our media relations agency in Malaysia) – the two eager beavers responsible for our red eyes and foul moods.  At about 7.30 am, the silence of the studios was finally broken by a shattered-looking man (one of the show hosts, we later learnt) who looked alarmed to see us there so early.  I glared again at Pandora, who slid a bit lower into her seat.

Dr. Riley and I were finally called onto the set at 8.20 am by the now-perky hosts (make-up does wonders) while they aired, as the intro to our interview, a pre-edited video segment in which random young people on the streets of Kuala Lumpur had been “polled” on whether they preferred “traditional vs. modern methods of teaching”.  Wonderful, I thought – this is their sum total understanding of the school of tomorrow.  Sure enough, one ‘pollee’ after another waxed eloquent on the wonders of modern technology and its apparently magical powers in the classroom.  It was a good thing I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, otherwise I might have started to feel a little unwell.  When the painfully repetitive montage was finally over and I was invited to comment, I tried to explain that the school of tomorrow and ‘empowering lifelong learners’ extended beyond Yahoo Answers and Wikipedia. I spoke of experiential learning and project-based learning, of the excessive focus on exams and the consequent shift from learning to teaching.  Later, Dr Riley explained how a child born today in Kuala Lumpur would not enter the workforce for another 22 years and, therefore, we needed to be very thoughtful about preparing the said child for a future that we knew very little about, hence underscoring the importance of acquiring the skills necessary for lifelong learning.  Our very amiable hosts seemed temporarily convinced but their interventions soon returned to scholarly thoughts like ‘But don’t you think that traditional studying leads to, like, more permanent knowledge?’

This interview, my first on Malaysian television, reminded me that, on the whole, we don’t really know what we want from our schools – whether in Malaysia, the United States, or Pakistan.  We are, on the other hand, quite clear that we want our hospitals to deliver cutting-edge healthcare based on the latest research.  Nobody is likely to conduct a public poll on whether you prefer “traditional vs. modern methods of surgery” (sure, let’s perform that heart bypass using unsterilized tools, an out-of-date doctor, and crude anesthesia) but we get all nostalgic when we think about “traditional education” and start dreaming of teachers with clipped English accents and perfect lesson plans.

More Vignettes?

In my next blog post (which I pray will be soon), I will write about the first day of the SOT Conference – from keynote speaker Richard Gerver’s story of Gary (which left many in the audience sharing moist tissues), to Dr Alma Harris’s matter-of-fact but impactful closing of Day 1, and finally to ‘Curry Spice’, a politically incorrect but riotous entertainer who made some laugh till they wept while others walked out!


A few days ago, I met with the core academics team at Beaconhouse to review our progress since the last School of Tomorrow conference in Lahore two years ago.  I think it would not be incorrect to say that the general consensus was that, while we have made considerable progress in a number of areas, it is still a ripple in the ocean that is Beaconhouse.  The 8,000 soldiers of Beaconhouse are undoubtedly our teachers and unless each of them understands what it means to be a school of tomorrow, we have little hope.  So, while there has indeed been a paradigm shift in the thinking of people in the corporate offices of Beaconhouse since 2000 when we started organizing these conferences, our key challenge remains how we are going to cascade this new understanding to the front line – our classrooms.

The good news is that we do not have unrealistic expectations and appreciate that such fundamental change takes time.  A great deal of strategizing (followed by carefully planned implementation and change management) is required to mainstream the pockets of excellence and best practice that undoubtedly exist in many of our schools.  Let us take one such example: project-based learning at TNS Beaconhouse (established 2007), an IB school in Lahore that is the outcome of the School of Tomorrow conference of 2005.  However, it has not been an easy journey.  Even though TNS is now in its sixth academic year, it has taken time for the understanding of project-based learning (and indeed its underlying philosophy, experiential learning) to take root.  And, with due respect to the good people of TNS, the roots are still growing in strength and connectedness.

So what exactly is experiential learning – and what does it have to do with schools of tomorrow? Experiential learning is an intuitive way of learning that is timeless (certainly far older than the modern school that we all know) and encourages learning through experiences, or learning by doing.  I find that the simplest way of explaining ‘experiential learning’ to people is to offer the example of learning to drive a car.  You can read a 1,000-page manual (or textbook) on how to drive a car with detailed calculations of how much pressure to exert on the accelerator in order to attain corresponding speeds, animations of how to effectively manipulate the steering wheel to make the car turn left, and so on, but until you go through the ‘experience’ of driving a car and make a few (hopefully not fatal!) mistakes, you don’t learn to drive a car.  ‘Learning to drive a car/driving a car’ is the perfect example of learning by doing.  Indeed, Aristotle had the right idea in 384-322 BC when he said: “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”  (I suppose that’s why he was Aristotle… and we’re still figuring it out 2,334 years later.)

So, even though the School of Tomorrow conferences sometimes evoke fleeting images of androids teaching human children in high-tech, virtual reality-equipped environments (and indeed some of that may be a part of it), that’s not necessarily the driving thought here.  What, then, are we talking about?

I cannot pretend to possess a blueprint for the school of tomorrow (if I did, we probably wouldn’t need to organize these conferences).  What I do know is that a school of tomorrow probably should not organize its teaching days purely on the basis of 45-minute compartments of disconnected knowledge (i.e., subjects) that are delivered in a manner devoid of any real-life context, where children learn things without knowing why they are learning them (i.e., studying complex equations on how much pressure to apply to an accelerator or a brake without ever stepping inside a car) and are ‘examined’ soon thereafter with mind-numbing questions like “If the vehicle is going at 60 miles per hour and you wish to decrease its speed by 18%, how many degrees of pressure do you need to apply to the brake?” What, I wonder, is the relevance of such decontextualized question-mongering if the child is never going to drive or, as it were, ‘do’?  (I can think of one reason: so that he may pass an exam and then wipe his memory clean.) This simple metaphor of ‘learning to drive by driving vs. studying the theory and mechanics of driving’ applies to the modern curriculum as a whole because we provide very little opportunity for application of knowledge but much emphasis on the transmission of abstract concepts.

Often, when I say things like this, people ask: “Excuse me! Aren’t your schools doing the same thing?”  My answer to this is always the same: this is not about Beaconhouse, it is not even about Pakistan.  It is about a global education system that developed in response to the industrial revolution and hasn’t changed much since.

To be continued…


I’d like to thank everyone for the overwhelming response received to my inaugural blog post.  I never imagined that my next post would actually take me beyond Eid ul Azha/Hari Raya but, since it has, let me take this opportunity to ‘hope’ that you all had a very happy Eid (assuming you celebrate it).  Moreover, I hope it was a happy occasion for the underprivileged and the unpossessed who are all too convenient to forget on joyous occasions.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who commented on my blog post.  I have read and appreciated all your comments and, though it is difficult to reply to everyone individually, I want you to know that I am grateful for your feedback – whether you agreed with me or not.

I realize that my next post was supposed to be about the politically desirable but otherwise elusive ‘common national curriculum’ but I’ve decided to defer that to a later date – also, I may fall asleep writing it. I am also now going to scrap, with much regret, a blog post I wrote but never managed to complete (and thus publish) on Malala – because the moment has passed – though I continue to pray for her complete recovery.

For now, I want to focus on something closer at hand because, as I type this, I am about to start descending into Kuala Lumpur and am pretending not to have heard an annoying announcement about having to switch off all electronic devices.  (As you may have gathered, I am on an airplane – much as I might want to descend into KL on my own wings).  I am here on an ‘advance trip’ in connection with our forthcoming ‘School of Tomorrow’ conference in Kuala Lumpur on 20-21 November.  (Amongst other things, I will be groveling before local media representatives in the hope that they may cover the conference.)

(Landed without laptop jamming the plane.)

End of next day… The School of Tomorrow is a journey that started in November 2000 when, on the 25th anniversary of Beaconhouse, we organized a conference in Islamabad called ‘Rethinking Education’ (more importantly, I was still in my 20s at the time!).  While this was by no means the first Beaconhouse Academic Conference, it was perhaps the first time that we recognized that people outside Beaconhouse might also know a thing or two about education and invited, as our keynote speaker, Dr Roger Schank (www.rogerschank.com), learning theorist/artificial intelligence pioneer/outraged educator, along with a few other non-Beaconhouse speakers and delegates.  Under the presiding gaze of General Pervez Musharraf (who was our chief guest as well as ‘Chief Executive’ of Pakistan at the time), Roger Schank recounted a little story that has since stuck with me: “Many years ago,” he said (or so I imagine), “my son got an A+ on a Chemistry test.  He was very pleased with himself and showed me his test paper.  I took a hard look at it.  Now, I’ve been a professor of computer science at Yale and Stanford but I couldn’t answer a single question.  I congratulated my son cautiously but kept the paper.  A year later, I showed it to him.  He could not answer a single question.”

Although the crowd laughed appreciatively (though I suspect several people didn’t really get the point) and General Musharraf, uncharacteristically hanging onto the keynote speaker’s every word, smiled knowingly, Dr Schank’s story was anything but funny. It was Tragic and lies at the Heart of all our education conferences.  It is, in fact, stories like his son’s that have led us to a continuing journey that has become the ‘School of Tomorrow’ conference series (as I explained to a mystified journalist in KL today, it is indeed a journey, not a destination…because we won’t suddenly decide on Sept 1, 2015 that we are Now a school of tomorrow [this was, of course, just before I remembered that the academic year in Malaysia starts in January, causing my ‘semi-joke’ to create further confusion.])

The School of Tomorrow conferences challenge our subconscious and deeply ingrained notions about education.  They may even make some people shift a little uncomfortably in their seats.  Nonetheless, these conferences are important because they confront us with hard questions such as Why is it that, when we all went to some school or another (presumably), most of us don’t remember much (if any) of the physics, chemistry, biology, calculus, algebra, history (etc.) that we learnt…even those of us who got 450 A grades in our O and A Level exams.

Think about it.

To be continued… (this one really will be, because the School of Tomorrow does not put me to sleep!)


I was recently invited to a forum hosted by a ‘prominent’ political party (no obvious hints like ‘rapidly emerging’ or ‘well-established’) to participate in a debate on the future education policy of Pakistan.  My colleague and I were the token representatives of the private education sector at this gathering.  The meeting chairman, a distinguished gentleman with far more to his repertoire than just politics, opened with the following words: “We want one education system for all!”  Then, looking at me, he quickly added, “I know what you’re thinking… ‘one education system’ doesn’t mean that we’re going to pull down the private sector! – that’s what you private school guys all think –  no, no, we are very clear that we need to push up the public sector!”  Having made this political statement, he proceeded to lay out a range of proposals (albeit, to be fair, they were just proposals) that, if ratified, would mean precisely that this new ‘level playing field’ would be created by leveling the private schools.

Indeed, the suggestion that the very existence of private schools creates an uneven playing field, one in which children schooled in the public education system are deprived of equal opportunities, has become the narrative in certain sections of civil (and not-so-civil) society.  In simple words, this is what these people say:

1)    Public schools have failed.

2)    Private schools have succeeded.

3)    Therefore, children in government schools are deprived of quality education.

4)    Since the above is true, we are creating two classes of Pakistani citizens.

5)    This ‘class divide’ is the fault of private schools.  (Restated: If they too had failed, we would have one mediocre class of citizens.)

Okay, so I may have over-simplified the argument a bit, but basically that’s what it boils down to.  It’s what I hear from all my media friends (and foes – I just added one to the list yesterday) as well as politicians, bureaucrats, policymakers, and others.  But do you know where all these people – bar none – send their own children or grandchildren to school?  No prizes for guessing.  What these people are essentially saying is this: “all children must go to government schools (except ours, of course!)”

(Why are hypocrisy and double standards so deeply ingrained in our society?  I think that requires a blog post of its own so let’s forget it for now!)

Let’s look at some interesting numbers here:

1)    Approximately 45% of children in the Punjab alone attend private schools.  These are not all “elite” private schools, as the media has labeled schools like Beaconhouse.  The vast majority of these schools charge between Rs100 and Rs500 a month and function out of one or two rooms.  Yet parents prefer to send their children to these schools rather than free government schools.  Why?

2)    Contrary to popular perception, government teachers are paid quite well! Their salaries are not much lower than those of newly appointed teachers at Beaconhouse – and about THREE times higher than the salaries of teachers at low-cost private schools (according to the ‘Education Emergency 2011’ report).

3)    If low-cost private schools can succeed with a much lower ‘per-student’ budget, then why can’t public schools?

Perhaps the best answer to the above questions can be found in a different context:  Beaconhouse has now been around for almost 37 years.  What would have happened if we had changed our complete management and strategic direction 10 times during this period? Would Beaconhouse have been the successful organization that it is today?

Sadly, that is precisely what the government has done.  It is a fact that, between 1947 and 2012, we have had 10 different national education policies.  This means that our direction has changed 10 times because every new government has come in with a different vision, often arresting all previous initiatives – good and bad. (We won’t even talk of the fundamental change that the 18th amendment has brought.)

The net outcome of the above is that public schools have been poorly managed.  Meanwhile, the private sector has risen to the occasion and filled the void created by this series of disasters.

The scary question is, what if there HAD been no private sector schools?

The reality is that anything ‘good’ creates a perceived level of deprivation for those who do not have it.  The Internet has created the ‘digital divide’ because many in the third world do not have access to it; clean drinking water has probably created the ‘water divide’ because a large part of the world’s population does not have access to it; finally, one could even argue that the availability of food has created the ‘nutrition divide’ as we can see in parts of Africa and, sadly, closer to home.

So how do we tackle these great divides?  Do we drag down those with clean drinking water and education and therefore create a uniformly miserable population?  (Sure, that’s one way of creating ‘equal opportunities’…) Or do we actively and aggressively address the situation on the other side of the divide and try to understand WHY we don’t have food in parts of Africa or why our public education system has failed?

So, going back to my meeting earlier this week, here is how it ended.  After the distinguished gentleman had finished explaining how his party would ensure that all schools, public and private, would be forced to follow the same system of education, I all but said to him: I hope your party never comes into power.


Next time: Challenges for a Common National Curriculum

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