Saturday, 28th March 2018, was an eventful day. No, Trump was not removed from the Presidential Office; no, poverty was not eradicated from our country and no, ice cream has NOT been proven to be a weight-loss agent!
What did happen was that the Karachi Grammar School’s admission list came out on the school’s website. You don’t think that’s eventful? Well, clearly you did not (and have never) applied at this prestigious institution and you don’t know anyone who did or has in the past!
Not only is this perhaps, the most awaited admission list of the year (for those who applied that is; the other mere mortals shouldn’t even dare to understand the significance!), the announcement was made more interesting by the fact that it was announced a day before the date given to parents on the registration slip (29th April).
Did the school not see that 29th would be a Sunday when they gave out the registration slips? Is it losing its edge, many wondered?
But upon asking around, I found out that apparently this is just something the school does – a quirk, so to say – and apparently it is a known fact that the list is published the day before the date given on the slip. Why? Who knows?
Now, coming to all that happened once the list came out. Considering that we live in the digital age, on the morning the admission list was announced, phones went all but crazy. WhatsApp groups were constantly ‘ting ting tinging’ as parents first informed each other that the list was out and then, as the word spread and everyone visited the school’s website, parents began to congratulate each other or expressed their shock/dismay over candidates who had not made it.
Most parents I know had applied for the Kindergarten section and there is no ‘test’ per se for that – rather, an observation of the child (and parents) both, in the waiting area, during the interview with the principal herself and then, once the child is taken alone to a room where his/her numeracy, literacy, motor, vocabulary, confidence, creativity and social skills are all judged through observation in a span of 10-15 minutes.
Coming to the list itself, from what I know this year’s list had about 130 ‘successful’ candidates and their names were given along with the names of their fathers. Why do schools do that, by the way? You’d think ‘progressive’ schools which stand tall and shout loud for equality and women’s rights would give BOTH parents’ names or do I dare think it, only the mother’s name?! Also, considering that there is a significant number of separated parents, most of whom have children living with the mothers, wouldn’t it be more practical to do so?
Oh well, the feminist in me digresses.
Now most people know that there is always a lot of mystery and drama as well as a lot of hearsay around KGS admissions and parents had a number of things to say regarding the process. Fariha*, the mother of an almost four-year-old, was told by a relative just days before she registered for admission that she had been ‘stupid’ not to enroll her son in preparatory classes for admission in the institution. Yes, preparatory classes for Kindergarten. The end of the world does seem near, doesn’t it? Huma*, another mother, had applied only because her in-laws pressurised her to do so!
Then, there are those who had applied because well…who DOESN’T apply to KGS? And those who had applied because they are Grammarians themselves or because their older children were already in the school. The biggest disappointment was perhaps, felt by those parents whose children did not get in in spite of being born to Grammarian parents or having siblings in the school.
There are certain pre-schools in Karachi which pride themselves on having their students get into KGS Kindergarten fairly easily. Naushaiba*, a teacher at this school, called one of the mothers whose child was rejected to express her disbelief that the four-year-old had not made it in spite of being bright, vocal and social AND having an older brother in Grade 3 in the school!
As the day went by, the lamentations over not getting in turned into justifications and even criticism. Faisal*, another parent, pointed out the surnames of the children and fathers on the list claiming that most seemed to belong to the elite class – business communities, high profile medical experts, agriculturists – as well as minorities.
Another mother, Ammara*, claimed that the list had been updated AFTER being published, speculating that influence and sources had been used to get their child’s name on the list after it went up.
There were also those who heaved a sigh of relief at NOT getting in. Yes, as strange as it sounds, such people exist. Many people apply to KGS it seems, due to family and social pressure while in their heart they may not agree with the institution’s ideology and culture. So, when the list is published and their name is not on it, it just takes the pressure off.
To each his own, I suppose.
But the fact remains that as always, while the admission list for KGS resulted in excitement, disappointment and chaos, today is another day and life goes on as usual.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.