This is part of our annual, series, “14 Days, 14 Stories”, about ordinary Pakistanis who are doing extraordinary things.
Despite having the privilege to be able to study whatever one wants, classrooms get monotonous and the subjects get boring. That mostly has to do with the techniques with which these subjects are taught. There is more emphasis on theory and less emphasis on practice. But Lala Rukh did not believe in these usual mannerisms of teaching and wanted to inspire students to take up STEM subjects.
Lala Rukh was born in Oslo, Norway but soon her family relocated to Karachi, where she spent most of her school-going years
“I remember as a school-goer in Karachi, how a small community school located next to my sprawling and magnificent school building intrigued me greatly. I wished I could devote a few hours exchanging ideas with its children and often wondered how similar or different their learning experiences were from mine. I never did get a chance to peep inside that school but later on, volunteered as a teacher at a charity school run by Agha Khan Foundation while I was doing my A-levels. I enjoyed that experience immensely and it planted the seed for my growing aspirations towards reforming learning experiences for children in Pakistan”, Lala Rukh told MangoBaaz.
After her A-levels, she moved back to Oslo and studied molecular biology and biotechnology. She later spent five years working at a social enterprise to promote informal science education in Norway.
This entire experience helped her realize that she had a passion and great enthusiasm to become a Science Communicator. She then moved to the UK and worked as a Science Communicator at the prestigious Science Museum in London.
Along with this, she would visit Pakistan frequently and in those visits, she initiated work on promoting informal and hands-on STEM education.
After spending almost a decade abroad, she decided to quit her job and move to Pakistan to work on her own social enterprise.
“The decision was tough because I hadn’t lived or worked in Pakistan for a very long time and I wasn’t quite sure if I’d be able to make any success out of my project. The hardest part has of course been living away from my home and husband. In 2015, I founded a social enterprise titled Science Fuse. We have been working to change how Science is perceived and communicated to children from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, both inside and outside classrooms in Pakistan”, she said.
Science Fuse, her social enterprise, is almost three years old now. So far they have engaged almost twenty thousand children through their informal science workshops as well as through their participation in public engagement events.
They have reached out to students from Thar, Tando Jam, and Karachi all the way to Lahore, and Faisalabad and partnered with some of the leading organizations working in the social and educational sector in Pakistan, including the British Council, Idara-e-Taleem-O-Agahi, and Alif Ailaan.
“At Science Fuse we don’t just impart scientific knowledge to children but also work on nurturing their sense of wonder and curiosity. Our learning programs help children develop critical thinking and scientific inquiry skills, shaping them into confident self-learners who learn not just to pass an exam but for the sheer joy of learning.”
Lala Rukh is a ray of light in a system of education which fails to intrigue students.
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For more stories from our series about extraordinary Pakistanis check out “14 Days, 14 Stories”.
cover image via Lala Rukh