I grew up in Pakistan and before coming to Stanford, spent two years in the country conducting research, closely working with academics and the government in the field of education. In the process, I developed a keen interest in understanding issues in school governance, particularly in the role communities can play in improving access to and quality in K-12 education in a developing country context.
At Stanford, I was exposed to wider issues in international education and was taught to critically analyze and examine education policies and practices through various disciplines. Having a background in Economics, I built up on my quantitative research skill-set to equip myself to evaluate programs in international education and draw worthwhile policy implications from them. I pursued my interest in issues of local school governance by evaluating a unique program in Pakistan for my M.A. paper. As part of the program, school councils comprising of parents, teachers and community members, were mobilized and informed regarding their duties through regularly scheduled phone calls. Under the guidance of Professor Tom Dee, I used quasi-experimental methodologies to investigate whether local governance can be strengthened through this engagement mechanism. I’m in the process of finishing up a paper for publication and this exercise has been the most rewarding part of my Stanford experience.
I have met some of the most dynamic and motivated professors and students who genuinely care about education through this program. The close-knit GSE community provided space for all kinds of people and I’m glad I made a place for myself among them. I attended talks, participated in research studies, presented my research both at an international academic conference and at Stanford and met extremely influential yet humble people in the discipline. The Stanford network is perhaps my most valuable take-away from the institute.
I am currently working on a project with Rural Education Action Program at Stanford that involves analyzing vocational schools data in China and I will be starting a doctoral program at UC Davis in School Organization and Education Policy (SOEP) this fall. I’m very excited to take on other challenging questions in international education that are of immense interest to me and apply the contextual knowledge and experience gained at Stanford in my new program! I’m also looking forward to contributing to the field in whatever capacity I can.