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THE SPIDER, January 2001

"Farah Kamal

Things changed for Farah Kamal when her brother sent her an email from the States. Realizing that the new method of communication was "damn cheap", she set out sending emails on any address she could get her hands on, and discovered the other wonder worth exploring: the Web. "The major explosion was when I was preparing to join a school as head and in one of the websites 'Teacher Helping Teachers' and a few others I do not remember, I signed the guestbook and left messages inviting other people to guide me as a new person soon to be holding a leadership position. The next day I received 25 emails from all parts of the world, veteran school principals and heads providing tips, first hand experiences, guidelines and addresses of other websites and organisation which can help me, and what not. Some had even sent me free of cost print materials that talked about latest research on school management and school improvement. Since that day my greatest professional development tool is internet and the community of friends that I have developed locally and globally.

And then Farah bumped into I*Earn (International Education and Resource Network), an international telecommunications network of teachers and students. "One of my electronic acquaintances at that time, from North Carolina, introduced me to this organisation," says Farah. "In no time we found ourselves among a group of diverse individuals with similar goals. A group of our students and teachers also participated in one of their ongoing projects, at that time we had no Internet facility for students but our Principal was exceptionally supportive and allowed us to use her account."

Farah Kamal is the head mistress of SMS Aga Khan School and the country representative of I*Earn for Pakistan. She has also been selected to be the pollster of Planet Project, a partner of I*EARN, who plan to conduct a large scale poll in order to reach out to people whose voices haven't been heard."

Her school belongs to the Aga Khan Education Service (Pakistan), which is a large network of schools and large networks are usually supposed to be resistant to change. "If we do our homework and plan well everyone helps us," says Farah.

I*EARN has over 50 interactive forums/news conferences where the writing exchange takes place and members can access it give feedback, contribute etc. "I love the excitement of my students when they write and read for real."

Farah thinks that the world looks different when you know the people living in it. "The world map is no more complicated lines on a paper for me, world map is real, I can locate the faces of real people I know on this map and plan for collaboration with... how can I ever think of causing any harm to them?"

Farah thinks that the world looks different when you know the people living in it.

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