Having completed her formal education in Child Development from the United States, Farezeh Durrani brings with her three decades of hands-on teaching, training, management, curriculum design and development experience in education and child development. This qualifies her both as a certified expert in early childhood education, and, as a recognized specialist in children with learning and developmental disabilities.
Since the onset of her career, Farezeh has worked extensively with institutions across Pakistan on quality improvement, workforce development, educational screenings, assessments, physical environment and classroom design, in addition to developing school projects at home and abroad.
Over the years, Farezeh's endeavour has always been to introduce developmentally appropriate practices and child development theories with learning methods into various primary and secondary schools, with the aim to create effective and conducive learning environments.
Having regularly attended the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College (Columbia University) in the city of New York, Farezeh has frequently written on the larger subject of child development and learning disabilities in some of the country's leading newspapers. In a candid interview, Farezeh shares her views with You!...
You! What made you interested in child development field?
Farezeh Durrani: My children. I was a single mother then, and was overseeing every aspect of their upbringing. I knew that the best thing I could do was go to college. When I opened the brochure to a prospective college, I stumbled upon the Child Development course. At that point, my motivation was to learn this subject to better understand my children, which turned into something much greater along the way. It empowered me not only as a woman, but gave me the ability to help all children I worked with, my own and others. As educators and parents, we have little realisation of the impact of the things we say and do in front of children, which may have lasting consequences on their well-being.
You! How long have you been working in the field of Child Development?
F.D: Since 30 years. I started my teaching career in 1987. I went to USA in 1993 and got my certification in Child Development from Austin, Texas, in May 1993. I came back to Pakistan in 1996.
You! You have established a school in Lahore introducing the Alpha School... can you elaborate?
F.D: Alpha is an absolutely unique and innovative approach to education in Pakistan, with highly-trained staff and teachers, and meticulous attention to detail. Our Pre-Foundation, Foundation Year 1 and Foundation Year 2 are based on the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), a statutory framework implemented in the United Kingdom that sets standards for the learning, development and care of children up to five years of age. Onwards, we are a certified associate Cambridge Primary school, and our programme is carefully designed to give students a solid foundation, enabling them to achieve high levels of academic and personal attainment. Our programme is excellent preparation for Cambridge Secondary, as well as for progression to other educational systems such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the American High School Diploma.
You! Do you think there is a need to create awareness among women specifically regarding your Alpha System?
F.D: Women wear many hats. From mothers to teachers, they play a pivotal role in decision-making when it comes to selecting the right educational institute for their children. It is imperative that they understand how Alpha's programme is specifically designed to facilitate a holistic approach to raise children that are not only effective learners, but also well-rounded individuals.
You! What is the most important advice you can give to women?
F.D: Stay true to yourself and what you believe in, and don't ever think that you are unworthy, or incapable of accomplishing your goals.
You! What's your goal in life?
F.D: My goal is to use my education and integrate that into whatever task or project I am overseeing. I am not driven by personal accomplishment, fame or money, but the passion for what I do. My knowledge, experience and skills should shine through my work, and make a lasting difference on the children and people I work with.
You! How do you unwind?
F.D: With my family and friends. I like to travel and spend time with my children, who are overseas.
You! What's your biggest accomplishment to-date?
F.D: My five wonderful children, and the people they have grown up to be.
You! Do you think that the general mindset of our society is changing towards education?
F.D: Yes, definitely. Women of the younger generation are much more likely to get education (and exposure) of the right sort. The private sector has played a big part in this. Establishing schools in small cities and towns across the country has made a huge improvement. Better education means better opportunities.
You! What are the challenges, in your eyes, faced by Pakistani women today?
F.D: Finding the right balance between their myriad roles and responsibilities at home and work, in their relationships.
You! What do you think are the main ingredients or traits essential to attain success in any profession?
F.D: Staying real and honest; believing in what you do and having fun with it. The primary motivation should not be finances, fame and fortune, but love for what you do.
You! What are the positive points of being economically independent?
F.D: It is the most liberating experience - to stand on your own strength.
You! Do you think a professional can be a good wife and mother?
F.D: It is certainly a challenge, but of course they can. Actually, working women tend to be better mothers as well. You're more attuned to the needs of the child and you try to keep your time as qualitative as possible. Not only is there a lot more to share with your children, in terms of experiences and information, but you can be a better role model for them as well.
You! What is a typical day in your life?
F.D: Very crazy. My day starts at 6:30 a.m. I have a lot to do in a limited number of hours. I have a mother and a brother who I like to spend some time with in the mornings. Then there's work, which I love. I don't get home before 7:00 p.m. I spend time with my family after that and plan for the next day.
You! Anything that you would like to share with our readers:
F.D: From being brought up in a conventional and sheltered household to the professional woman I am today, getting here has been an exciting roller-coaster ride, filled with experiences that have enabled me to learn and grow. While there have been no handouts, I have been fortunate enough to have family, friends and colleagues who have kept their faith in me. I wake up each morning feeling blessed knowing that I am now in a place to give back to all the children and people I work with.
You! What are your future plans?
F.D: Alpha is very close to my heart, and I hope to keep working towards improving children's lives.