education in Pakistan: the only option for Pakistan's poor
By YesPakistan.com Staff Writer
Non-formal schools have
begun to play a dramatic role in educating those who have long been ignored
in Pakistan: the country's rural and its poor.
So important a role have
they that according to the report Human Development in South Asia 1998, any
plan to extend universal primary education in Pakistan by the year 2003 will
not be successful unless there is a major stress on non-formal education.
This is not surprising,
considering that in many, many disadvantaged areas of Pakistan, particularly
the rural parts, non-formal schools are not an alternative, but rather, the
only option children have to gain basic education and literacy skills.
Community mobilization and
participation are the essence of the non-formal education system. The programs
aim to meet the demands of the local community rather than of central or government
planners. They are clearly a grassroots projects, since they are designed not
by top policy-makers but by the people themselves.
This involvement is a key
in factor in ensuring that basic education is provided to the disadvantaged.
Local villagers design, implement and monitor these programs, thus creating
a sense of community ownership.
Non-formal schools have
a number of features which distinguish them from government and other schools
in Pakistan. Some of these include the fact that the teachers are selected from
the local community; the schools are closer in location to the children; the
curriculum is practical and related to issues children face in their daily lives;
there is parental and community participation in all of the different levels
of the students' education, and particular emphasis is placed on educating girls
and underprivileged groups.
These features also make
the schools more cost-effective, since a non-formal school costs less than two
percent of the capital costs of a formal school. They are also time-efficient.
It takes only one month to establish a make-shift room in a house or building
of a local teacher. In contrast, it takes an average of two years to begin a
formal school which must be set up in a new building.
But while the quality of
the physical environment may not be as good in non-formal schools, the curriculum
and content of these schools is the same or sometimes, even better than formal
This is why the Human Development
Foundation (HDF) has established a number of non-formal schools in different
parts of Pakistan as part of its work in the education sector.
HDF runs these schools with
the participation of the community. The salient features of the program are:
1. The education program
is carried out in collaboration with one of the existing NGO in Pakistan, which
has been active in the field of education. Selection of the NGO is done based
on their program and activities in that geographical location.
2. HDF's schools are basically
held in one room, where one teacher educates 30-35 children. The children are
of different age groups ranging anywhere from 5 years to 10 years.
3. The curriculum is the
same as the government schools, but the goal is to finish the 5 years' curriculum
in 3 years. This is possible because there are no summer vacations.
4. HDF is trying very hard
to change the teaching methodology from the traditional "memorization"
method to that of "joyful and activity based learning".
5. Like all other aspects
of the program the community is asked to contribute something towards this.
So the community provides a room for the school either in someone's house or
by building a room.
6. Teacher's are selected
whenever possible from the same community. This way there is very little turn
over of teachers. Also the local people trust their children specially daughters
with someone they know. The teacher also feels comfortable because he or she
knows the community and can deal with several social issues.
7. The teachers have to
go through a teacher's training program before beginning and then periodically
8. All the expenses except
the space (which is provided by the community) are borne by HDF. This includes
all the material, teacher's salary, teachers' training etc.
9. The parents are charged
a school management fee, which goes into a special fund. This fund is later
used for the sustainability of the school.
10. There are very active
parent teacher associations (PTA) in the schools. These are involved in their
11. There are regular meetings
of all the teachers from various schools in the same community to discuss issues
relevant to the education program.
HDF's schools have benefited
thousands of children across Pakistan. They have also increased awareness amongst
parents about the need for basic education so that these children can have a
better future by securing the skills they need today.
Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:44:52 PM
Sebastian : 11/29/2006 11:10:22 PM
It was nice to read about the NFE, keeping in view the ineffectiveness and some of the basic longstanding problems being faced by the Pakistan Government Education system specially in rural schools, NFE does provide answers to such serious questions, yes of course its the only option to be made available for many rural, marginalized areas of Pakistan.
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