Educationist Doğan Yücel wrote about his teaching career in Lahore and his first experiences in the third part of the memoirs based on his life in Pakistan. He conveyed how the number of students and classes increased with the steps taken in a short time despite financial difficulties.
Each teacher in the school had a guidance class. Class guidance was based on taking care of the students’ academic development, keeping in touch with the parents and organizing extracurricular activities. In my first year, they also assigned to supervise the guidance of a class. However, there were only two students in the class. One of them was a boy named Qasim and the other was a girl named Maryam. A few months later, another male student joined the class. Hence, I had three students. Guidance counsellors would report their activities related to their class every month. They would hold briefings about the home/parent visits and the parent-related functions. Those form teachers who had 15-20 students in their classroom were at ease. However, since I only had two parents, I did not seem to be able to visit as many parents as my colleagues. That was why I visited Qasim’s family maybe ten times in a semester and Maryam’s family seven or eight times. Our vice principal was already a tenant in Maryam’s parents’ house. This was how the first semester of my first year passed. Qasim’s father was an academic who taught English at a university. He was also famous for his palmistry skills. Maryam’s father was an engineer at the Northern Sui Gas Company Technical Works.
I was also given the duty of arranging the school meals. I used to prepare a menu for lunches, have the ingredients bought, and had it cooked by the cook at our home on pay. Of course, we taught him how to cook according to our palate. He used to bring the food he cooked to school by bicycle at noon.
We could rest no more when the library door was locked!
Two or three months had passed since I arrived in Lahore. I met the late Mr. Farooq Sherwani in October or November, and soon became family friends with him. I met another former diplomat who was interested in Turkish. I am unable to recall his name now. I gave him a free course for a month or two. Later, I visited him at his house with other Turkish friends.
The first year our school did not have a dormitory. Education was given in two buildings; the secondary school section was in the front and the primary school section was in the back. The place used as the teachers’ room was the kitchen of the front building; rather, it was the entrance to the kitchen. It was made into a room by wooden partitioning. The temperature was above 40 degrees most of the time. When we did not have classes, we would sit under the mango tree by the kitchen door or go upstairs to relax in the room used as the library. There was a plush carpet on the floor and there was also floor mattress. We used to lie on that mattress. When this practice was repeated several times, the school administration locked the door of the library. As a result, we could no longer rest at all in the heat.
The first thing we would do during breaks was to rush to the principal’s or the vice principal’s office to cool ourselves off even for five minutes and dry our sweat. If there was a visiting parent or a meeting, we had to return immediately. There were ceiling fans in the classrooms, but they were on the students’ side. There were no fans where the boards were. As people who came from Turkey, we were soaked in sweat during classes. Sometimes, while we were checking the students’ homework, our sweat dripped onto their notebooks.
Our first multimedia classroom didn’t last long!
Computers were just beginning to be used in the English and Turkish classes at that time. We bought a second hand PC with a large monitor. We wanted to use the living room of the bungalow, which we used as a school building, as a multimedia room. The school administration agreed. I hung some Turkish posters on the walls of that classroom. Moreover, I went to the Anarkali Bazaar and bought some of the latest movie posters and framed them. We fixed those posters to the top of the Turkish and English posters in the classroom, close to the ceiling. We prepared a beautiful room within our means under the conditions of that day. However, our multimedia room, which we had prepared with such effort, did not last long. This room was soon transformed into a computer lab as we would start teaching to the high school classes in the second semester. Later, when the number of students increased, that room was turned into a classroom. The terrace just above that room was bordered with sheet metal and turned into a classroom. Those sheets were meant to protect our classroom against the temperatures ranging between 40 and 45 degrees. ☹
Towards the end of the first semester, we had a meeting with the late Deputy Director General Mr. Adem in the school garden. We expressed to him that we had the strong intention to open a high school class for the next academic year and that we would prepare our school for that. We needed to register our school with the Lahore Board of Secondary and Intermediate Education, set up a science laboratory, and so on for that purpose. Most important of all, it was necessary to enrol those students, who would be bright enough to score high in the university entrance exams in Lahore, with scholarships. However, for that, we had to get permission from the Punjab Ministry of Education to conduct scholarship exams. In addition, we had to have a dormitory to accommodate the students we would enrol on merit scholarship. PakTurk head office promised us financial aid for opening the dormitory. Our school’s principal also invited Mr. Mian Imran Masood, the then-Punjab Provincial Minister of Education, to a trip to Turkey and have a tour of our sister private schools there.
To be continued…