Teen rikshaw driver third in Lahore’s school leaving exam

August 3rd, 2008 - 12:38 pm ICT by IANS  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, Aug 3 (IANS) Studying during the day and driving a rickshaw in the evening to support his family of six, 17-year-old Ali has overcome all odds to stand third in the Lahore Board’s secondary school examination. Seeing his grit, the government has awarded him Rs.5 million (nearly $70,000) to help him complete his education. The teenager, who was forced to quit studies for some time after his father fell ill, has secured 735 marks out of 850.

“I used to study in the day and drive the rickshaw after my school hours to earn for my family,” Ali told IANS from his hometown Kasur, some 50 km from Lahore.

“My father developed heart problems and couldn’t drive the rickshaw and so I had to earn money for my brothers and sisters,” said Ali, who uses only one name.

Apart from his ailing father, Ali’s family includes his mother and four siblings. He said that he had actually decided to give up studies completely to earn a living.

But when his school’s vice principal came to know that Ali would quit studies, he immediately called him and persuaded him against his decision. The teenager said his teachers motivated him to continue studying.

“Two of my teachers even came and asked my father to convince me to carry on with my studies and work in the evening,” he recalled.

Ali then rejoined school after a break of almost two months. The youngster said that he would carry his books along with him and study whenever he got time.

“This paid off and I got the third position in the board,” said an overjoyed Ali, who wants to be an economist.

He has big dreams not only for his country but for the whole of South Asia.

“My aim is to eradicate poverty not only from Pakistan but from the poor countries of our whole region. I want to see this region developed like Europe and America as we see on television and movies,” he said.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was the chief guest at the medal distribution ceremony for the Lahore Board’s toppers. When he came to know that Ali is a rickshaw driver and dreamt of becoming an economist, he immediately announced a Rs.5 million award for him to complete his studies.

Ali said that he would use the award money to educate his brothers and sisters as well.

The youngster even had a message for the SAARC leaders meeting in Colombo. He has appealed to them to divert a large chunk of resources for increasing literacy levels in the region. He firmly believes only education can bring the region at par with developed countries.

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