Teacher Training in Hyderabad, Pakistan
23 Sep 2009
Ian Jamison and I happily embarked upon our flight and found the experience from the start an indication of all things oriental to come.
The journey to Hyderabad from Karachi took around two hours. A rather dry arid route, not too dissimilar from the geographical contours of California or Colorado. The quiet roads were an obvious indication that the festival of Eid had only just passed, and as with most things eastern, organisation and movement would predictably take time to get up and running once again.
Emerging from our short yet refreshing hiatus, we met with our Local Co-ordinator to check out the workshop venue facilities. One of the major features that strike you about the people of Hyderabad is the outstanding level of hospitality and enthusiasm on display, for each person falls over themselves to come and say hello and introduce themselves. Certainly inside the buildings we visited, and this before there was any indication of who we were.
Hyderabad is a melting pot of ancient cultures, within half an hour I could see people of blue eyes and brown skin, brown hair and green eyes and ginger beards with a bushy moustache. Clearly an indication that the heritage of this region, if not the country has been one of interchange and synthesis, a great note to finish our first day with an interfaith training session later in mind.
That evening back in Hyderabad saw the first of our 'Evening Receptions' – an event arranged to receive distinguished guests, dignatiries and workshop participants, designed as an introduction to the Face to Faith Teachers' Workshop and an overall presentation of the Tony Blair Foundation Organisation. The hope being that the workshop could then benefit from an immediate start into the teaching programme.
I decided to introduce the aims of TBFF, against the backdrop of Islamic and Pakistani Culture, in Urdu. This went down a treat with the guests, and clearly broke the ice. After a brief exotic introduction, and an explanation of the other projects alongside Face to Faith, it was clear to me that the guests were deeply engrossed and without overstating the point – gripped by TBFF's aims and honest compatibility with their Islamic Faith and wider culture on the whole. It was always my aim to cultivate an approach in this peculiar manner, so it was most pleasing to see the audience engaged and fixed upon my talk.
Ian soon took over and elegantly broke down the programme's aims in piecemeal chunks, perfectly weighted for an audience who may never have encountered such a style of presentation and international ambition.
By the end of the evening, we were quite literally overswamped with requests, praise and recognition for our attempt to bring forth a concerted effort of learning and benefit.
On more than one occasion, I found myself extremely humbled listening to the stories and situation of the teachers, who clearly loved their profession, believed whole-heartedly in the values of education and undertook unbelievable sacrifices in the name of their students, families and profession.
We were met by teachers from not only within the local vicinity, but some who travelled from afar as 100 miles, for 1 ½ hours along undeveloped roads and routes to reach the reception and workshop in Hyderabad.
There were representatives of the Aga Khan School network, Beacon School network and City's School network, and also the Ministry of Education for Sindh Province.
For those that were remaining in Hyderabad for the workshop the next day, there was an obvious sense of ambition and excitement. There was something about their ambition and drive that was honest and strikingly innocent, something which has since left an indelible imprint on my sense of being.
Face to Faith Programme Manager