A success story

By Sharif Khan
COMMUNITY involvement in education is important in order to provide quality edu cation, a well-proven fact in the case of the South Asian States. Hunza a sub-division of Gilgit, famous for its high-literacy rate in the entire region, is rich for perceiving the concept of community involvement in developmental work in general and education in particular.

The entire community is more conscious for providing quality education to their children through participatory approach. For instance, there are three types of schools like the state run government schools, private schools and communityinitiated English medium schools. The enrolment increased in community schools because of close coordination and cooperation of the community members and the students scored high in the competitive exams and aptitude tests as compared to the state run schools. The community got a sense of ownership and ensured accountability and transparency in financial discipline.The community also got an opportunity to create democratic approaches in decision making and set an example of being the catalyst for other educational systems. As a result the state run school which suffered a lot for poor enrolment, high dropout rate and inappropriate teaching and learning issues realised the importance of community involvement and requested the Unicef to bridge the gaps.

Child-friendly schools (CFS) project is a Unicef-funded initiative to upgrade the quality of education and increase student’s enrolment by introducing a child-friendly environment involving communities in government girl’s primary schools in the Gilgit district.

The Aga Khan UniversityProfessional Development Centre North (AKU-PDCN) is also partnering with the Directorate of Education (DoE), Northern Areas, Gilgit and Unicef Islamabad in designing and offering training pro grammes for the various stakeholders of the CFS, including teachers, head teachers, school management committees and mothers’ support groups. The project was launched for the first time in 40 government girls primary schools in 2005, adding 15 and 20 more during 2006 and 2008, respectively. On the basis of successful experiences during the previous years in project schools, Unicef decided to extend its funding for the year 2009. A 100 schools are on board currently. The goals and pillars of the CFS project are given below: Goals • Increasing students (espe cially girls) enrolment.

• Improving child-friendly environment in schools.

• Upgrading the quality of education.

• Enhancing community involvement in schools. Pillars • Healthy environment.

• Academic efficiency.

• Gender sensitive.

• Protective and inclusive.

• Community involvement.

AKU-PDCN as one of the key partner organisations is keenly involved in capacity building of management heads, head teachers, subject teachers and community members through school management committees (SMCs) and mother support groups (MSGs). The experience influenced many other educational leaders and managers to visit these schools within the country as well as the globe. It is worth a mention here that one of the project schools (Federal Government Girls School Gulmit Gojal-Hunza) was declared the best school and its head teacher, Muhammad Rahbber received the Salam Teacher Award in Islamabad by the then caretaker Prime Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro.

The CFS project also helped the schools in providing several facilities (such clean drinking water, toilets, boundary walls, electrification and minor repair and maintenance of the school building and furniture as well as provision of Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) teachers and material for three- to eight-year-old vhildren with the help of communities and ensured the effective utilisation of the resources with quality assurance.

It was evident from observation and analysis that enrolment increased in government schools and corporal punishment decreased from its previous pace. Parents too wanted to send their children to such schools. The teaching and learning standard was raised with the teachers and head teachers pleased with their professional development. Communities were also happy as it helped them in capacity building. They got much insight and exposure during workshops and visits and were also able to display their commitment in playing an active role in school improvement.

The initiative also helped sensitizing gender issues. The cleanliness in schools helped improve the environment. Well-qualified teacher educators and educational leaders focus on pedagogy and content knowledge as desired by the stakeholders during training need assessment and follow-up visits during the capacity building sessions with the help of the social mobilisation team.

In a nut shell, we can bring improvement and positive changes in our educational institutions and the entire society through capacity building and effective communication skills among the key partners and other stakeholders This model could be replicated in other regions of the country as well as in other developing countries in order to do away with embezzlement, nepotism, favoritism and the traditional teaching and learning system. And all this can only be made possible if all the stakeholders show their commitment to the holistic development of children by using a child-centred approach to transform schools into childfriendly institutions. Orignal at Dawn Education Page, Sunday March 22, 2009

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  1. I congratulate Mr. President Saheb for his aspirative and research based article.
    I may say flagship for him and for us as well.
    keep it up.

    Mohammad Jalil

  2. It is nice to analyse andarticulat issues like the articles appeared in the news paper like DAWN and reproduced in pamir time,I congratulate both MR SHARIF KHAN &MR AZIZ ALI DAD.I assume this endeavor is part of our education our next goal is to contribute in International printmedia.

  3. Dear Sharif Bhai,

    Congratulations for writing this article, we are motivated and encouraged by your writing skills, good initiative keep it up and move on


    Shah Zaman

  4. Sharifs are shinning!!

    Sharif, this is really a good initiative and a telling case, eloquently narrated !

    While we appreciate UNICEF and the government for taking this initiative and partnering with AKU, I wonder wether this would move beyond ‘pilot’ in educational ‘hotspot’ villages??

    We all know the state of government schooling in GB, many schools were constructed and are ‘up and running’ without requisite teachers? The issue of PC-4 lingering on.

    The ADP resources are prioritized by the members of NALA in their constituencies. They give high priority to infrastructure-related investments for obvious vested interests. How much of the more then 16% of the education sector ADP is actually spent on capacity building and CFS and ECD? Literally less then 0.1%, if I am not exaggerating??

    Can the DOE/UNICEF and AKU-IED PDCN show such models to them, and convince them to allocate funds for capacity building, investing in people and in replicating such models throughout the GB???

    Can we start with one constituency and find one champion of education in NALA, we may spent atleast 25% of the 35 million rupees on CFS in his/her constituency??

  5. Dear Ustad Mohtarram,
    You have executed a fantastic work which reflects the developmental activities being carried out in the region after getting the sense of direction from the different institutions of AKDN.

    The commmunity has gained the credibility towards self sustainability and can be witnessed by the fact that different community based organizations are made which are showing optimum outcome although not much time has elapsed from the time they came to existence.

    The awarness got towards quality assurance has paid a vital role in the field of education and has come up with many big changes that can be realized while having a bird’s eye view of the past educational status of the community.

    We must be thankful to all those who have made things accessible for us towards a better future.

    I salute my Ustad Mohtarram for the drastic change he has brought in his own personality and in the community for a better cause and is serving the cause to his utmost.

    Many many congratulations

    Aslam Khan Ghalib
    Lahore, Pakistan

  6. Sharif baye Congratulations for wirting a comrehensive aspirative and well narrated article your affiliations with Govt and with private organisations and your own hard work has enabled you to work for the communities living in North and we are confident you have the capabilities to contribute your skills nationally and internationally.

    our prays and good wishies for your future endeavour

    Ali Masud

  7. Dear PT readers,

    Thank you very much for your encouraging comments while reading this article. It (PT) is one of the best forums to learn from each other experiences. Every individual have knowledge and wisdom but it remains in our minds and thoughts until and unless we express or share it with others. Print media and electronic media are the best instruments to disseminate it. I would like to suggest professionals, academicians and students to contribute their learnt knowledge and stamp in a knowledge society. Once again thanks for PT team, commentators and readers for your nice comments and thoughts.

    Thanks and regards

    Sharif Khan

  8. very good accessment of the overall education spectrum of Hunza. my humble request to the International funding agencies & concerns to plan the matter not only for experiment basis. now is the time to extract the experiences of past and place a permenet basis for the education sys. with in the vally of HUNZA.
    Now it is time to unify the education sys and it is obligation on us to curtail the creating of classes with in these small villages.
    but how and how???? I personally request to the educationests that, they sould come out with a suitable suggestion/ with measureable goal and achieving targets.
    The article no doubt is very nice————-an accessment only
    Some of the points highlighted by Amin Baig bhai, is also a food for thought.

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