Written By: Arfa Chaudhry – Alight Pakistan/Islamabad
In the District Tando Allah Yar of Sindh, exists a small village called Bachal Pitafi. With a total of 210 households in this village, most of the people live their lives below the poverty line. Despite the impoverished conditions, the community of this village is very progressive in their thoughts. There exists an elementary government school specifically for girls where currently 110 girls are getting their education.
Upon a visit to this school and village, the Literacy Mobilizers of ALIGHT* realized that young girls from a few households weren’t going to the school. In order to cater to this challenge, Alight’s Literacy Mobilizers established a School Management Committee (SMC). This committee consisted of different members of the community especially parents of the school students. It proactively decided to take actions on any issues that were prevalent in the village pertaining to Education.
After a few discussions, the root causes of the resistance of those parents were unearthed, which revolved around poverty coupled with lack of awareness on the importance of education for girls and boys. Alight’s Literacy Mobilizers and the SMC took collective action and held multiple awareness sessions focusing on information on education as constitutional right, nearby schools for girls and boys, etc. for these families in their houses and influenced their perception. As an impact of these sessions, 15 girls were enrolled in this school.
The spirits of the SMC were very high. They later discovered another issue in the school where they saw children walking to their homes in the middle of the school multiple times and returning after short breaks. The SMC raised their concern with the teachers and discovered that there was no drinking water facility in the school. The children had to walk back to their houses to fetch drinking water to withstand the inclement hot weather of interior Sindh. This was also leading to an increased absenteeism ratio in the school, which was highly affecting the education of these children.
The SMC marked this issue as a high priority and took action on it right away. One of the members of SMC knew a government official and raised this concern in front of him via an application. In a matter of days, with continual follow-ups, the SMC was able to get an electric water cooler placed in the vicinity of the school. The children, the teachers, and Alight’s Literacy Mobilizers celebrated the water cooler by thanking the SMC.
“We have never been so happy, I’m so glad that there is a water cooler in the school now. The children are able to quench their thirst without having to leave the school during their classes,” said Miss Benazir, the Head Teacher of the school.
Educate A Child (EAC) is a global initiative of Education Above All (EAA) Qatar, which aims to significantly reduce the number of children worldwide who are missing out on their right to education. The program is implemented (2018-20) across Pakistan by Alight in collaboration with Government of Pakistan (GoP).
*ARC is now becoming Alight