CyberFair Project ID: 3813

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: SAARC : Economic Perspective
Category: 3. Business and Community Organizations

School: Aitchison College
    Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan

4 students, ages 16-17 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 19, 2005. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2005

Classes and Teachers: Coach(Mr. Aamir Akhlaque), Students(Hamza, Aunn, Pawail, Hamza). All in grade 12.

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

Nearly finished with our project, all our team members agree that this has been one joy ride for all of us. It was an immensely enjoyable educational experience. We learned a lot and hope at the end can pass on to others more than what we learned through the course of this project.

We were a diversified team and our team leader Hamza U (16) specifically chose each one of us for the tasks we eventually got down to. The greatest credit undoubtedly goes to him for pulling us together, making sure we met our deadlines (his rather!) and was always willing to let us into his house whenever we needed to work after hours, when his room was transformed into mission control with laptops and wires all over the place. He also made the final check on the website, checking the content and design and providing us with some of the best ideas portrayed in this website. Hamza M, the other Hamza on the team was responsible for making sure our team never met deadlines with his delaying tactics and incessant fooling around. Nevertheless, he wrote the political impact page and designed the forum page for the website, following his own procrastinated timetable! Pavel Q (17) single-handedly designed our website and is responsible for uploading it and working out the glitches. Aunn R (16) was our economics specialist (a world distinction holder in Economics; you have to read through his credentials, on our website!) Aunn conducted most of the research and interviews. Without his presence, the project would have been an empty web page. We are also indebted to our Coach, Mr. Aamir Akhlaque for being an invaluable source of information and guide to other reliable sources, especially on the Internet. He constantly helped us out whenever we hit a stumbling block during our work and remained a constant source of strength, and more importantly discipline. [Please visit the ‘Our Team’ page on our project website, for a more detailed description of the team members.]

2. Summary of Our Project

We realized that to make this project unique learning experience both for ourselves and for the future viewers of our website, we had to venture into doing something unique and creative. We chose economics as our project discipline because we felt its importance was underestimated by many people as a sphere of knowledge.

We felt that our project learning objectives broadly required us to illustrate the importance of economics and how its applications can affect our individual lives, as well as, international politics. Specifically the category we chose required us to help foster an understanding that would explain how trade and international investment would lead to world development. We believe we were hopefully successful in covering all the learning objectives comprehensively, because in addition to the issues mentioned, we went into technical details of the specific area of study that we chose, namely the economics of the SAARC region. We also mentioned the political and social aspects of this region, and did so in a local context.

Specifically speaking, we tried to raise awareness regarding the South Asian region, about which international awareness, in general, is not very high. We tried to develop appreciation about the economic changes the world is going through under the leadership of the WTO; the trend towards free trade, and specifically how these changes would affect relatively poor countries in the world like those belonging to SAARC. We tried to show the various possibilities for these countries to counter the changes due to the changing world scenario; such as having a common currency ‘Rupa’, and compared them with existing models like the European Union. With a blend of history, future predictions and by presenting various shades of opinion regarding all issues, we tried to help the general viewer to think and form an individual opinion, rather than simply forming the opinion for them.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:2-3

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dial-up modem

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

We remained ambivalent over which category to build our project on. We initially decided on Science and Technology and decided to make a project on technological progress in Pakistan. This was later changed to Business, Trade and Economics and we decided to pursue a more pressing issue: SAARC and its future prospects to encourage economic cooperation in South Asia.

We also realized there was a dearth of material to work on as the specific issue we chose to address is not one that provides many practical examples, especially that of a common currency. Working best with what we had and getting the starting material from the Internet and some textbooks, we came up with the content for this website.

Living in a country like Pakistan, has, unfortunately, certain drawbacks although we are still proud of it. We have limited access to technology beyond the normal PC or what was present at school and that is what we improvised with.

To add to all this we had certain setbacks. Two of our team members, Hamza M and Pavel Q got major roles in the school play and were kept busy with that for two weeks. Aunn R left for a trip to England sponsored by the British Council Pakistan for his performance in the GCE O Levels, to return only three days before the deadline! Basically we had our work cut out for us with so many delays, not to mention the fact that being the good friends we are, we sort of lost out on the seriousness aspect of such an endeavor.

The most important thing that needs to be mentioned is that we lost a bulk of the work that we had done(nearly 5000 words), because the file got corrupted due to the ‘genius’ Aunn’s superb handling of the computer. And this happened just two days before the deadline! On that occasion, the thought of abandoning the project also crossed our minds; but we made up for that by working 48 hours in a stretch. For pulling us together and making us work nights in the last few days, we ‘thank’ Hamza U and our coach Mr. Aamir Akhlaque.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

To our fellow students it has provided an invaluable insight to an issue they will have to grow up to deal with. Such analytical skills developed from reviewing our website will invariably prove beneficial in the future for these students.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

At Aitchison College, we follow the Cambridge University curriculum for GCE O and A Levels. All four team members are currently in their first year of A Levels and three of them are studying economics at this level.

Therefore, not only did choosing this particular category because it appealed to our sense of academic enrichment and progress, but also because it helped us in our regular class studies. It added to what we are already being taught in class, in the sense that it gave us incentive to put our analytical and other skills to the test. There were skills that we improved on, such as analysis. And there were skills that we acquired, like the procedure for conducting surveys and developing preliminary economic feasibility studies.

All of us gained considerable knowledge well beyond the classroom level knowledge of international trade, its relevant economics, its workings and how to develop arguments, both for and against any issue. Working as a team helped us realize the benefits of pooling together various special talents. Integrating those talents to form the website that we have, is, for us, a remarkable achievement. We grew on each other’s experiences and learned from our mistakes along the way.

On the whole, this being, an educational website will help pass on this knowledge to our community’s students who will find it an enriching addition and supplement to their regular coursework. Not only that, it provides a welcome break from standard textbook study; and the navigable design and lucid content of the website will encourage learning. For the same reason, we believe Internet implements like our website should be an integral part of regular coursework as they add interest to the subject matter. However, they can, in no way, in the present form, supplant traditional teaching methods.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

We carried out primary research, in the form of a survey of local students to be able to collect different ideas and views. Students were chosen from our school and also from international organizations, such as Mensa International High IQ Society (Pakistan chapter), Seeds of Peace and Youth Initiative for Peace. Appropriately small samples of economics students were selected and at the same time we asked all students to add their parents’ views about the questions that were asked. We introduced the concept of a currency union for SAARC, and by asking the parents about their views we were able to access their views. The survey was successful because 196 forms were filled out and this wide array of proposals and views formed the basis of our project as a result. We believe local businesses and different professions were represented through this survey because parents were contacted. Interviews with four important people (mentioned in the ‘Rupa: An Overview_what people say’ section on our website) enabled us to include the opinions of the government, the multinational sector and the local business community.

Through the internet and discussion groups we were able to contact Indian students and appreciate their views on various issues.

Also, the fact that we all had laptops to work with made it easy for us to meet at one person’s house where we worked on the project simultaneously, swapping ideas and material.

Our interviews were either conducted over the phone or person-to-person and were recorded (digitally) in both cases for our own future reference. Our website was designed on the following software, either used in the school or at our homes: Macromedia Flash MX, Macromedia Dreamweaver MX, Macromedia Fireworks MX, Adobe Photoshop 6, and Microsoft Office 2003 Edition.

The library of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) was also an invaluable source of information for us. The college library, the local municipal libraries were also utilized.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

This website, according to our plan, will be publicized over the media, particularly through magazines published by the school and also local newspapers. We have also listed this website on the major search engines of the internet (thanks to Pavel, once again). We have also put up its notice on the school’s notice board, which will attract the fellow students of our school (who are more than 3000, as a matter of fact). In addition to all that, Hamza U, who is an active member of international organizations such as Seeds of Peace( and Youth Initiative for Peace(, has also publicized this website through their platform. On top of that, we have also sent its advertisements to the communities relating to the subject on online portals, such as Orkut.

In an attempt to raise interest about our idea, we decided to hold a small presentation for the youth of Lahore. The level of interest which people showed is reflected by the fact that about 300 students attended the presentation and participated very enthusiastically. It was all very encouraging for us.

Apart from our families, friends and teachers, those people who helped us in making this project will definitely be interested in viewing it; and they would hopefully help in spreading its word around and making the community involved.

The forum page is purpose-built for the discussion of various aspects of the same and will provide thought-provoking questions for discussion and the portrayal of various shades of opinion from different people. Considering the fact that our website has not been on the web for a large period of time, the forum page can be a useful indicator to check the response that we may get initially.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

The first thing we need to mention here is that our approach to the question of SAARC, i.e. in an economic context is unique in that not many people have thought of applying a common currency to the region or promote free trade as such, for a number of reasons. Our project provides a different insight on the issue and as such will bring it forward to our community. It will show to our community, especially Pakistanis as a whole that a lot can be gained from mutual cooperation with India, a country most Pakistanis have a deep mistrust of but fortunately will help raise awareness which will accelerate the current trends towards peace, friendship and cooperation. We can hope our website becomes one of the many steps required to remove this mistrust between both countries. To the world, it will only be conveyed as a positive message that there exists a class in Pakistan that does want economic cooperation with India and the multiple benefits gained there from. This can only be taken as a positive sign; we are instilling an important idea in peoples’ minds that will only change for the better of our local as well as larger regional community.

We involved the ‘Youth Initiative for Peace’ in our project from the beginning; and as a result they have agreed to hold a Model SAARC Conference(similar to a Model UN), in which the students from local schools will participate and debate on various issues, including our proposal.. The fact that our website is starting to make a difference is very encouraging for all of us, and we hope that we can make a lasting difference.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

We have been helped my quite a few people, directly and indirectly and for their help we owe them our gratitude.

We were able to add views from other countries into our analysis because we used discussions with our friends from some SAARC countries over the internet. We discussed various ideas for the project with our friends from India and some other students we contacted by searching on internet discussion groups (see citation for details). Their ideas and views helped us appreciate and respect the differences of opinion of the international community on various issues, and hence we learned a lot from them. Thank you, guys!

It was really handy to have a computer geek like Pavel on the team. We also received help and suggestions on the website from our coach who suggested some of the sites we used to get the updated facts and figures and the graphics, e.g. the flags on the home page.

We would also like to thank Dr. Zaeem Jaffery, the Dean of Social Sciences department of LUMS, for letting us use his department library. We found a great deal of useful material there.

We would also like to thank all those who agreed to be interviewed, namely Mr. Masood Ahmad Sheikh, Bilal Murtaza Siddiqui and Mrs. Nijhat Farooqui .Without their invaluable feedback we would have lost a crucial part of our project. A very special thanks goes to Lt. Gen.(ret.) Khalid Maqbool ( The Governor of Punjab), for allowing us an opportunity to be enlightened by his views on the subject.

Some of our other teachers also helped us with various tasks. Mrs. Sonou Rehman, (Our history teacher, who is also the President of the Debating Society of Pakistan), provided important historical events to enable to make logical predictions for the future, and for her help we owe her our thanks as well. Some members of the college Economics faculty answered our queries, for which we are extremely thankful.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 3813)

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