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For Mohammad Danish Malik and Muhammad Bin Amjad the ability to work with their friends on projects to help the local community, as well as pursuing their own interests, were important factors in choosing to study Cambridge IGCSE Global Perspectives.
‘I liked how you are supposed to go out into the field and get your hands dirty, and to get first-hand experience in whatever you want to do,’ says Danish.
‘It makes you more experienced with life in general and I don't think that's really a part of other subjects such as chemistry or biology.
‘Because of the type of course it is, you do more independent research and you find things out for yourself rather than having a textbook or a teacher telling you. You have to cite everything that you do in your research project, and you have to think more about how you structure the whole document.
‘You do find that those type of skills help you in your other subjects, and also when doing more advanced courses.’
Muhammad agrees: ‘I'd heard from my teachers and my seniors that Global Perspectives is a subject that is different from all of the other subjects, where you just have to have an understanding of the concepts and put that down in your exam.
‘In Global Perspectives you can have ideas, you can actually do something about problems you discuss in class, and that's what really made me choose the course.
‘You have a lot of freedom, and there is not just one direction you have to go in. If you want to look at the environment, or technology, or just any personal interest you have in particular topics you can go there, actually do something about it, and get credit for it.’
For their group project, the two students were part of a team that looked at ways of improving the physical environment in a poorer part of their town. They decided to plant trees to make the surroundings more pleasant and to help improve air quality.
Danish explains: ‘We planted different trees and educated the people nearby on how to take care of them, so that hopefully there is a cycle and they don’t die out after our project ends.
‘We told them how many times you have to water them, how to protect them from different weather conditions, or animals on the streets.’
According to Muhammad, the project helped them identify their existing skills and develop new ones.
‘One of the most appealing factors about Global Perspectives is that you can work with your friends, and we had in mind that we have distinct characteristics that we could bring to the project.
‘For example Danish is good at editing and so he could edit our videos after we had made them, but other individuals might be better with people you encounter in the field, or better at planning, or leadership.
VIDEO: Danish Malik and Muhammad Bin Amjad.
‘During the course of the project, because it is practical and you don't have control over every aspect, we had to improvise a lot.
‘None of us were really skilled in photography at the start, so we spent lots of time practising how to operate a camera. We made an opening sketch for our video and I acted in it, but I'm not really an actor and haven’t done drama, so the project involved stepping out of your comfort zone as well.’
Roughly eight months on from the planting project, the team have been back to see how the trees they planted are faring. As Muhammed explains there were problems they anticipated and some they didn’t.
‘We asked ourselves at that start how are we going to incentivise people to actually take care of these plants? Because, to be really honest, when you tell them that the trees are going to be good for their health, it is really a long-term benefit that only comes when those plants grow up to be trees. People have to put in a lot of effort for which they don't see a result for a long time which is a disincentive. They have other more pressing problems to cater to day by day, with their jobs, and their families.
‘We came up with the idea of using plants that are going to be fruit-bearing for the majority of the year, so people can either consume the fruit or sell it off. This means they have not only the health benefit but some monetary benefit.
‘When we went back the number of trees had decreased, and it turned out that one of the main guys that we had talked to about them had fallen ill. We realised that what we should have done was made sure that we involve as many people as we could, as individuals will leave and move on.
‘We talked to more people and they were really happy and liked the plants, so we are going to try and make sure that it doesn't happen again.’
Mohammad Danish Malik and Muhammad Bin Amjad are students at Lahore Grammar School in Pakistan. The school opened in 1979 and now operates more than a dozen campuses. LGS offers Cambridge IGCSE, O Level and International A Level courses.