Changing the world one student at a time

Ayesha Bibi wants to use teaching as a tool to change the lives of girls in developing countries.

A Master of Teaching (Secondary) student at ACU’s Melbourne campus, Ayesha came to ACU having already completed a teaching qualification in her home country, Pakistan.

“I had done a Master of Science Education at the University of Punjab, Lahore, and I have a bachelor’s degree in science with specialist subjects in botany, zoology and chemistry,” she says.

In Australia, where she’d moved with her husband in 2019, she realised she’d need to update her qualifications if she wanted to teach in Australian schools.

So, she says, she started looking around at local universities to see what was on offer. She considered a range of courses, but when she discovered ACU, she realised she’d found her place.

“ACU stands for social justice in society, and that’s what my aim is too,” she says.

“Basically, I’m from an area where there are lots of people who have no opportunity to get education, especially girls, so I have observed social disadvantage quite closely.

“I’m grateful for my situation, being able to get an education, so therefore it’s my aim to help others.”

Before starting her degree, Ayesha completed 20 weeks of the university’s English Language Program. She says she was particularly impressed by the extracurricular programs on offer, including one-on-one sessions to help students improve their English pronunciation. By the time she commenced her studies, she felt confident to study at the postgraduate level.

Once she’d started her master’s, she realised that ACU offered a totally new approach to teaching compared to what she’d experienced back in Pakistan. At home, Ayesha says, education is very teacher-centric – the teacher holds the knowledge and the students are expected to listen and learn by rote.

At ACU, however, Ayesha saw that teaching could be more than just the process of imparting information. It could also be an opportunity to shape young people’s lives as a whole.

“Here in Australia, and at ACU, I learnt to use student-centred teaching methods,” she says.

“ACU also focuses not only on the pedagogy but also the wellbeing of students and the wellbeing of teachers based on social justice principles.

“I learnt how to individualise my lessons, how to create equity within the classroom and how to help students who need extra assistance.”

Ayesha’s long-term goal is to finish her degree and eventually move back to Pakistan to work with girls from disadvantaged communities. This philosophy earnt Ayesha a nomination for the 2020 Victorian International Education Awards, which recognise excellence and leadership among international students studying in Victoria.

“It was really nice for me to be nominated and named as a finalist. There were nearly 230 applications, so being selected out of those students was an honour for me. It gave me an immense pleasure,” she says.

But it didn’t take Ayesha long to turn her focus back to her studies and to the opportunities ahead of her as an ACU student, and as a teacher with the power to shape vulnerable lives.

“I think a teacher is a change maker. A teacher can change society, so I consider teaching as a holistic, very prestigious and privileged profession.”

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