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March 13, 2017

Engaging dialogues mark the end of Beaconhouse learning festival

Islamabad

March 13, 2017

Islamabad

Interesting panel discussions on topics ranging from social media to gender issues to education reforms to arts to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project were seen on the second and final day of the Beaconhouse School System festival titled ‘A World of Tomorrow: Seeking Enlightenment & Equilibrium in a New Age’ on Sunday, too.

The event attracted larger crowd of people, mostly youth, here at the Pak-China Friendship Centre compared to its opening day. During a session on ‘The Good, Bad and Ugly of Social Media’ moderated by senior journalist  Zebunnisa Burki, former Google Pakistan country consultant, Badar Khushnood said there were both positive and negative aspects of internet and mobile technologies for interactive social networking.

London-based writer, Moni Mohsin, regretted that the most social media users had stopped reading literature. “Today when I ask my journalist friends about what they have read recently, most of them say we’ve stopped reading. Now we read things on Facebook only, tweet, and see few blogs,” she said.

In an emotionally charged discussion on going beyond gender binaries, transgender panellists appealed to schools, governments and the general public to accept their identity as transgender persons. Teachers were asked to sensitise children about them.

There followed another gender-related session entitled ‘The Future of Masculinity’. ‘Working men: Harmonizing Home and Work’ explored the changing role of working fathers. Panellists shared their endeavours to spend quality time with their children.

In another session on ‘The Exciting World of Innovation’, leading scientist and researcher Dr. Attaur Rehman said science presented myriad opportunities for research and exciting career opportunities in diverse fields.

In a session, poets and writers of Urdu said literature was the catalyst for society’s good behaviour. In ‘Art Without Boundaries’ artists including Sheema Kirmani bemoaned the restriction on freedom of expression.

It was suggested that art and its various dimensions be included in the school curriculum. There was a heated debate on ‘Aid for Pakistan? No thanks!’ The stance that Pakistan should not accept aid from foreign countries was voted for by most of the audience as it was unanimously agreed that resources both internal and external had not been invested and used strategically in the recent years. 

In a very high-profile session called ‘CPEC and the Future of the Region’, panellists highlighted the short-term and the long-term implications of “One Belt One Road”, China’s global endeavour.

Journalist Rasheed Rehman passionately stated, “Now China is galloping ahead and the world needs to recognise the need; Pakistan must follow suit or be left behind.” While discussing their contribution in raising children, Ali Ahmed Khan made an honest admission: “Motherhood is an absolute miracle,” he said. “It is a bar that we cannot touch.”

In a thought provoking session, Harji Lal presented some issues faced by the minorities in Pakistan. Tahira Abdullah reiterated the fact that non-Muslim Pakistanis are not merely to be “tolerated”, but, loved and respected as Pakistanis.

Other sessions explored the inclusion of the arts in science and mathematics teaching, fashion for the future, a hard-hitting discussion on education reform in Pakistan, ownership of cultural heritage and one entitled ‘No Land for Refugees’.  The day concluded with stand-up comedy by Shafaat Ali, puppetry by veteran artist, Farooq Qaiser and a concert by Ali Azmat. 

 

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