November Blessings

My previous blogs for September and October, which detailed my arrival in Paris and my trainee-ship at UNESCO, were quite verbose. I have, therefore, decided for this third post to be a picture blog in chronological order.

Side note: while we were still studying at Penn in Philadelphia, we would try and come up with instagram and twitter hashtags for IEDP (International Educational Development Program), replacing ‘Program’ with other words e.g. IEDPeace, IEDPeople, IEDPerfect! Get the drift?

True to that tradition, here’s my #IEDPictures blog #post:

Panelist: Professional Teaching Standards

Once again, for the second time during my internship/traineeship period, I was invited to participate in a high level panel. The first time, I was a panelist at the World Teachers’ Day Celebration at UNESCO- you can see my name on the event program on UNESCO’s website 😀 and read of my experience on my previous blog post.

This second time (as shown in the pictures above), I was invited as a youth student-teacher representative at the event ‘Raising the teaching and learning bar through professional teaching standards’ which was the launch of Education International and UNESCO’s joint Global Framework for Professional Teaching Standards . Incidentally, this was also a side event of the 40th session of UNESCO’s General Conference. Once again, you can find me on the event program on UNESCO’s website :D.

What an honor it has been to have twice had a voice alongside UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General Education, Stefania Giannini; Director of Education 2030 Division, Jordan Naidoo; Chief of Teachers Development, Edem Adubra and senior experts from Education International.

I think my internship is going quite well :D, what do you say? 😛

President of the Education Commission

Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training, Shafqat Mahmood, was elected President of the Education Commission at the 40th General Conference from 12-27 November here in Paris. Meeting with him was definitely an honor.

Unlike the meeting last month with Wajiha Akram, Parlimentary Secretary to Pakistan’s Ministry of Education, where I had the opportunity to sit with her for an hour and speak about educational reform in Pakistan, the meeting with Shafqat Mehmood barely lasted beyond a few minutes a few instgram-worthy pictures.

Partnerships: 40th General Conference

The 40th session of UNESCO’s General Conference has been a busy time with several hundred additional people including heads of states, ministers of education, country delegates, youth activists, scholars, students and NGO representatives among others flocking to headquarters to have conversations, debate ideas and form partnerships. The days are consumed by panels, commissions and plenaries while the evenings are filled with cultural exhibitions and receptions.

How lucky I have been to be here at HQ at such a busy and happening time.

Projects: ongoing work

Futures of Education department under Sobhi Tawil’s leadership

To start off let me say that I have been lucky to work at UNESCO, with a brilliant group of people on a remarkable project. Working with Sobhi Tawil, Maya Prince and others on the UNESCO Chairs Publication for the Futures of Education has been great.

Futures of Education

I am continuing my editorial and coordination work alongside colleagues in the Education Research and Foresight team on the book entitled ‘Humanist Futures: Perspectives from UNESCO Chairs on the Future of Education’. As mentioned before, this book will set the tone for the International Commission meeting in January 2020 to help chart out global education policy for 2050 and beyond.

Coordinating with the 50 or so authors, synthesizing the book (writing summaries for individual think pieces, placing the think pieces in chapters, deciding chapter divisions etc) and learning about the publication process at UNESCO has definitely been valuable.

It is also great to know that some of the summaries and chapter introductions I wrote will be included in the book.

Global Education Alert

I haven’t mentioned this in previous blogs, but I also help prepare an education newsletter of sorts with two colleagues.

Some days I wish for an AI software/machine which would give me a list of relevant articles based on key words and trusted websites I feed into it. Alas, this is a distant dream! For now, I simply open each of the 45 trusted websites and manually search for relevant articles, news items, blogs, events, webinars, reports and statistical data that are then featured on the Global Education Alert.

Nevertheless, this exercise has given me plenty of insight into news and present discourse in the educational development world. I was also made privy to news sources that are considered reputable for development issues as well as specific perspectives of some organizations.

If you are looking for a comprehensive report on education discourse around the globe, you can subscribe to the alert here.

Programme at IIEP

Pennsylvania/Philadelphia in Paris

Dan Wagner made his way to Paris in November for the launch of the French version of his book ‘Learning as Development’. He also had meetings scheduled at HQ and IIEP- it was quite wonderful to meet him at both these offices and receive some well-meaning (and perhaps well needed) career advice.

Since Ale’s visit in October, this is the second time IEDP has found its way to Paris in person. The impressions that have been formed through Dan’s work and the work of previous IEDP interns at UNESCO have contributed to my experience here in positive ways.

Pakistan: global consultations

Quite possibly one of the best things to happen on my Paris traineeship was the week off I took to visit Pakistan. While I was in Karachi, I took the opportunity to volunteer two global consultations: one with students and one with teachers to contribute to the Futures of Education initiative. It was a special feeling, really, to visit the Karachi Grammar School, where I learned to teach and truly got interested in educational development.


The real reason for visiting Pakistan was to meet my two nieces- my brother’s daughter and my sister’s daughter. The three of us were born in and grew up (will grow up) in three different countries- Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and New Zealand and are currently living in three different continents. Between the the three of us we have 6 countries of origin, birth, ethnicity, nationality and residence- namely, India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Japan and Canada.

The more I think of my nieces, the more I wonder of the ideals around global citizenship, equity and social justice beyond borders.

Rameen was born in Karachi, Pakistan on 28th February 2019 whilst there was a partial blackout in wake of the looming threat of India declaring war on Pakistan.

Alayna was born to Muslim parents in New Zealand on 17th March 2019 a few hours after the deadly mosque shooting in Christchurch.

I often wonder about the worlds these two little girls will inherit. Will the color of their skin, the languages they speak, their gender, the nationalities and religions of their parents- things they have no control over and have simply been born into- be the key determinants of how their lives are shaped?

Will there be variations in the opportunities each of them has based on where their parents choose to live? Are both of them already differently advantaged and disadvantaged based on factors they have no control over? Is this fair? Can it ever be fair?


With all the travelling and activity going on in November- discovering Parc Montsouris, in all its Autumn splendor, as a place of solitude and reflection just a 5 min walk away from my apartment has been a real blessing. (I know this is random but started with ‘P’…so…. :P)

Palace of Versailles

Disclaimer: these pictures are sourced from the internet.

I thought plenty about Marie-Antoinette , French aristocracy, the French revolution and the many perceptions of historical movements, as I walked through the Palace of Versailles and its gardens.

So much so that, on my way back, in Paris, I walked to the Concorde- the place where Marie and other french royals of the time died at the guillotine.


Moving to a country you have never been to and do not speak the national language of can be challenging. In that vein, I am grateful to the people who have been there.

Here are some of the people who were present in person and made this life in Paris and Pakistan worthwhile these past few weeks:

(PS: Of course the weekly phonecalls and texts with friends and family around the globe have paramount significance too 🙂 )

Posting from…

Disclaimer: this picture was not taken by me 😛 Barcelona, Spain

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if this is where I was posting this blog from? In any case, I will be heading to Barcelona this weekend to mark the end of a successful (or let’s say, trouble free :P) 13 weeks in Paris and at UNESCO.

All in all, this is one of the warmest Novembers I can recall with pleasant intersections of the past, present and possible futures in Pakistan and Paris.

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