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AFSAH SHAFQAT

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By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Apr 02 - 08, 2001

The youngest Java master is in the making in the form of Afsah Shafqat, a 12-year-old young girl from Karachi.

Afsah, brushing aside all the taboos and so called barriers imposed by the outmoded education system against spread of knowledge and wisdom has proved by securing 16th position out of 4000 contestants in Java admission tests that it is the aptitude and not the degrees or certificates that matter in acquiring advance knowledge.

A student of 7th grade in White House Grammar School, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, appeared in the pre-admission test for Java course introduced by Badr Operations at Sir Syed University of Science and Technology. In the preliminary test she appeared along with 4000 contestants and was selected as one of 600 successful candidates. Out of the 600 she outclassed majority of the contenders by securing 16th position amongst them.

Born on Feb 26, 1989 Afsah had already proved the proverbial saying i.e. "coming events their shadows before" by winning various distinctions in her short span of education life. She always stood first class first right from Grade one to Grade 7 in her school. She also won special prize on her painting "Pakistan as I see" at the competition organized by the Arts Council of Pakistan. She also assist her younger sister Afrah, an 11 year old girl and elder sister Isbah who 14 in bringing out a magazine "Chand Nagar".

Ziaullah Khan, the mastermind behind the concept of Badr Operations aimed at spreading IT knowledge in Pakistan free of cost, has chosen her as the teaching assistant (volunteer teacher) for Java classes at Sir Syed University.

This generated tremendous amount of confidence in the young lady who has started taking classes for the beginners at Sir Syed University.

PAGE: How did you manage to get through admission test for Java course?

Afsah : My mom and dad were the source of inspiration for me. They spend most of their time at home busy with computer for different disciplines of IT including Java. Naturally I got involved and learnt a lot about Java without any formal education. When pre-admission tests were announced by Badr Operations at Sir Syed University I decided to appear along with my father who was also interested in taking Java classes.

PAGE: What is your future plan. Do you want to make a career in IT?

Afsah: Currently I am preparing to appear in Java certification within next three months. I am hopeful and confident that it may not be a difficult job for me. After certification in Java, I would like to go for other advance courses in software development.

PAGE: How your school mates and teachers reaction on your selection as the Java teacher at Sir Syed University.

Afsah: My school colleagues and teachers were really happy and are going to give me a treat and gifts in recognition of whatever you may call it my success of achievement.

Dr. Shafqat Mehmud, the proud father of the young Afsah paid glowing tributes to Ziaullah Khan, an IT expert from the United States, who has come back to mother land with the commitment to spread IT knowledge throughout the country by utilizing the given resources currently like idle in the country.

Ziaullah Khan had arrived in Pakistan with an idea to utilize the premises and labs of large educational institutes lying idle on off-days. Hence he launched IT education program Badr Operation I from Sir Syed University where he started a weekly class on Sundays when the University is closed. People having thirst for knowledge gave him a warm welcome and today Badr Operation II is going on at APPIT, III at DIMS and IV at IMIT. Badr V is also in the pipeline which is likely to commence sometimes next month at IQRA University located at Abid Town in Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

Ziaullah has a dream to see Pakistan as a strong IT power on the world map. He feels that this dream could only turn into a reality when the knowledge is imparted at the grass root level at extremely affordable price. The IT university offering IT education at an approximate cost of Rs3 lakh may not deliver the goods to achieve the desirable targets. Currently, Badr operations have been launched in Karachi. However this concept of utilization of premises and labs of large education centres on off-days would be taken to other major towns and cities of the country in near future.

Afsah, who is also the product of Badr Operation is the proof that much talked about IT education can only be brought upto the grass root level if the so called formalities are abolished and the talented people having aptitude to learn IT are encouraged to go ahead.

Afsah, who visited the ITCN Asia 2001 conference at Sheraton was given a thunderous applause when accompanied by her two sisters namely Isbah and Afrah invited at the speakers' stage before a large gathering of IT specialists from all over the world.

Dr. Shafqat hopes that Afsah is likely to make a world record as the youngest Java master soon after she gets through the certification process.