Top student takes lessons back to Pakistan

12 July 2018

Studying at Crawford School has transformed Pakistani public servant Syed Muhammad Ali Shah, and his outlook on public policy.

Muhammad has just completed the Master of Public Administration at Crawford School and graduates this week with the Master of Public Administration Prize as the top student in his degree program.

Hailing from the Provincial Civil Service of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, Muhammad worked in the Corrections Department in Peshawar when he received the opportunity to come to Crawford School as an Australia Awards Scholarship recipient.

“When I applied for the scholarship, Crawford was my first choice,” Muhammad says. “I could have gone anywhere, but one of my good friends back home had been to Crawford and other people had very good impressions and wonderful memories regarding Crawford,” he says.

Muhammad has found his experience at Crawford truly rewarding.

“I’m a totally transformed public servant,” he says. “Being at Crawford, I see that there is more than one way of (approaching a policy issue). When I go back, I will be contributing in my own humble capacity and authorised mandate to the overall improvement of the situation in my country in a more informed and enlightened way.”

His time spent at Crawford and in Canberra has been memorable and full of wonderful experiences.

“At Crawford, I’ve loved my teachers, I loved my class-fellows, and I loved my studies. I love Canberra’s peace, its tranquillity, its greenery. And as for Australia, I love its magnanimity,” says Muhammad.

When he returns to Pakistan, Muhammad feels that he can make a qualitative change after being at Crawford School: “Now I can contribute to policy-making more wisely. What gives you the edge is that you are mentally and logistically prepared to tackle the implicit and explicit weaknesses of your policies.”

This preparation come from his courses, where Muhammad could look at policy-making from different angles.

“I would look at one thing as a defender of the theory and policy behind it,” he says. “But at the same time, I was looking at the other side of things and coming up with all kinds of weaknesses of that policy.”

Muhammad strongly supports the Australia Awards scheme. He says that “this is the best thing a developed country can do to support developing countries.”

When he goes back to Pakistan, Muhammad will use all of the skills and tools that he has learned from his degree at Crawford to help his country’s public service.

“I’m a transformed person. I really mean that, I really am. Once I’m back, I’m sure that though I will not be perfect, I will be much better than what I was when I came to Australia, especially to Crawford.”

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