KARACHI: Top Pakistani pop
star and founding president of the Zindagi Trust Shehzad Roy has been
awarded the 2009 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship on Social
Entrepreneurship by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs for his
philanthropic work in the field of education.
Mr Roy was given the
award for the work he has done to improve the quality of primary and
secondary education in Pakistan.
The music star is one
of the youngest ever recipients of the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, one of
Pakistan’s highest civil honours, and he has also been awarded
Pakistan’s highest humanitarian award, the Sitara-i-Eisaar. MTV Pakistan
also recently gave him two awards for his music.
Expressing his joy at
getting the prestigious fellowship, Mr Roy told Dawn that during his one
week stay in Chicago (planned for Oct 24-31 this year) he would like to
impress upon notable American educationists, politicians, reformists and
media persons the need for the Pakistani government to be pushed to
bring about reforms in schools, particularly by replacing outdated
textbooks and updating curricula. He said he would appeal to foreign
agencies for funds for these projects.
He hoped that during
his meetings with Americans from different walks of life and his
presentations on educational reforms he would be able to convince
agencies to help the Pakistani government realise the importance of
reforming the public school system.
‘The award, which has
been given to me in recognition of our reform work in government
schools, will, on the one hand, encourage us to replicate the SMB Fatima
Jinnah Govt Girls School in more government schools and, on the other,
help in highlighting the importance of turning around government schools
among officials as well as teachers, so that they may extend their full
cooperation to us in this regard,’ he said.
According to a press
release posted on the Chicago Council’s website, ‘the fellowship
recognises Mr Roy’s commitment to providing better learning
opportunities in government-run schools, and honours his goal of
encouraging Pakistan’s youth to evaluate education and provide them with
the knowledge and opportunities they need to realise a peaceful,
democratic and political future.’
As a Koldyke Fellow,
Shehzad Roy will spend one week in Chicago exchanging ideas about
education, philanthropy, and non-profit management with the city’s
civic, government, business, and academic leaders. He would also deliver
a major public address about education in Pakistan to a Chicago Council
audience on Oct 29, the release added.
The Patricia Blunt
Koldyke Fellowship was established by the Koldyke family to recognise
leading social entrepreneurs from around the world between the ages of
30 and 45 who are working to transform their societies through creative
innovations to social problems. In 2009, the Koldyke Fellowship
selection committee focused on primary and secondary education in
Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Elaborating, the press
release said that ‘Roy uses the proceeds from his hugely popular
concerts to fund the work of the Zindagi Trust, which since 2002 has
established vocational centres and healthcare clinics and has worked to
improve Pakistan’s educational system. One of its first projects, ‘I am
Paid to Learn’, provided child labourers nationwide with monetary
compensation for attending school, an important initiative in a country
where more than 10.5 million children under the age of 15 work menial
jobs to support their families.’
More recently, Mr Roy
received the government’s permission to take over the 2,500-student SMB
Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School in Karachi, where he introduced
new textbooks and a curriculum that embraces individual growth, arts,
‘The aim is to produce
a ‘thinking’ individual,’ says Mr Roy. ‘Students must learn to inquire
freely rather than become ‘book parrots’. There has to be a culture of
discussion, interaction, and proactive thinking.’
Mr Roy says that his
ultimate goal is nothing short of reforming the entire government-run
school system in Pakistan.
Listen to Sehzad Roy