Islamabad, Pakistan


Photographer: Khaula Jamil

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Civil servant Mohammad Ayub Khan spends his after-work hours and weekends teaching students in an open-air school in north-east Islamabad. Known to his pupils as Master Ayub, he has no formal training as a teacher. But he does have a quarter century of experience. Twenty-five years ago he arrived in Islamabad in search of work. Seeing many children on the streets collecting trash and rags instead of attending school, he decided to offer them free lessons. Today, he has 250 students enrolled in the makeshift school he runs in a public park. On weekdays, he works as a chief fire officer. He splits his salary three ways – one part to his wife, who also runs a small school, one part for his own basic needs, and the rest for his school. Whenever he can, he helps his pupils with their medical expenses and other necessities. “My hope is that one child will join the army, one will become a doctor, one will become a policeman, and so on. This is how I can make this country a better place,” says Master Ayub.