Pakistan is facing a crisis in terms of education, with 53 million Pakistani children between the age of 5 – 16 out of school. This dismal condition can not only be attributed to the lack of educational institutions in the country, but also to the poor provision of education by the schools that do exist. Many public and non-profit schools lack basic facilities such as clean drinking water, toilets, boundary walls, fans and heaters. The quality of education is also severed by a dearth of teachers, who generally lack basic training, resulting in a situation where only 25% of students in class 5 possess the basic numeracy and literacy skills that they should have acquired in class 2 ( ASER 2014 ).
Our School Engagement Program aims to support local community schools and improve their learning environment in order to improve the quality of education as well as female enrollment. The program is centered upon a capacity building approach that is tailored around a cultural, economic and social needs assessment of the community. The program focuses on upgrading missing facilities as well as soft interventions such as teacher training and community mobilization.
An interesting capacity building innovation is the addition of separate afternoon shifts for girls in schools, conducted solely by female teachers. The girls only environment that is created encourages female enrollment, caters to the needs of girls who often have to work at home during the mornings and increases the educational capacity of existing schools at minimal cost. This shift system was successfully piloted with the American Refugee Committee (ARC) at I am a Star school at the Afghan Basti in I-12, Islamabad. Community mobilization is an essential facet of this program, as many families need to be encouraged to send girls to schools.
The program also supports teacher training at various levels; head teachers are trained in governance, management and administration while more generally, teachers are trained in new teaching methodologies such as how to engage students and make learning interactive with minimum resources. Our School Engagement Program also works with the local government and actors to fund teachers costs and support staff costs including community mobilisers, community link officers and other administration staff. Joint monitoring systems with schools are also set up to monitor retention and achievement of female students, and thus the effectivity of our capacity building interventions.
PAGE Support System Flow Chart