ILMPOSSIBLE- Take A Child To School is implemented by the British Council Pakistan with close partnerships with Children’s Global Network (CGN), School of Leadership Foundation and Free & Fair Election Network (FAFEN).
There are currently 25.02 million boys and girls in Pakistan between the ages of 5-16 who are not in school. What is alarming is that as the level of education rises, the proportion of Out of School Children also increases. Consequently, by higher secondary level 85% are not in school. Statistically, the percentage of Out of School Children in Pakistan according to Alif Ailaan Report: 25 Million Broken Promises is as follows: GB 48% KP 34% FATA 62% AJK 43% Punjab 47% Sindh 51 % and Balochistan 66%.
Furthermore, the percentage of out of school girls (55%) in Pakistan is greater than out of school boys (45%)The greater problem arises when majority of girl’s parents do not allow them to study due to archaic perceptions about their education. This leads the talented young girls to leave schools believing that their rightful position is to remain at home and assist the needs of the family. Equally problematic is the unwillingness of boys to attend school despite the resources available. Due to rampant poverty in Pakistan, the poorest children are far more likely to be out of school (57%) as their parents are unable to afford the school fees.
All of these challenges culminate together to exacerbate the problem of retaining children in school. The survival rates by region up to class 5 are as follows: ICT 95%, GB 65%, AJK 64%, KP 56%, Punjab 54%, FATA 43%, Sindh 43%.
In this scenario CGN-P in collaboration with British Council have formulated Mohalla Committees as a part of community intervention to tackle education emergency. The Mohalla committee is composed of a group of influential individuals who are able to advocate for education reforms, facilitate volunteers and other education stakeholders to identify the reasons behind out of school children and high dropout areas. The active participants of these committees are parents, School representative (head teacher or teacher), Local govt. representative and Partner civil society through mobilizer, young volunteers and Local influential decision maker (educationist / community activists / Businessman/Masjid Imam).
These areas identified by FAFEN where volunteers have enrolled the Out of School Children. Each Mohalla Committee works with at least four to five government schools where volunteer have enrolled a sufficient number of out of school children. Through the formation of Mohalla Committees Children’s Global Network Pakistan is able to increase number of better informed parents committed to enroll their children. They also provide strong coordinated ownership amongst the community influencers and partners who will facilitate access to schools and enrolment. Furthermore the Mohalla Committees provide the opportunity for wider advocacy for enrolment and retention within communities and other influencers. These committees provide the perfect link between schools, government and all relevant departments to identify the enrolment issues and seek the perfect approach to resolve them. As a result, they encourage the creation of a positive learning environment where sustainability of child retention is the utmost priority.
Role of Mohalla Committees is vital in our implementation strategy. These Mohalla Committees enhance the school retention through an effective methodology which is sustainable in the long-term.
The strategy is composed of four elements: Detail Orientation, Union Council Mapping, Formulation of One Year Action Plan and Capacity Building.
Detail orientation involves the identification of the reasons why children are hesitant to join school. This involves visits by Mohalla Committees to school and preparing their profile. There are various reasons including the harsh attitude of teacher, lack of basic facilities which lead to an environment unfavorable for child’s learning process.
Union Council mapping includes identification of primary, secondary level, public and private schools and other resources and institutions available in union council. They identify the missing facilities and these are discussed in meetings. One year action plan involves making a yearly plan that identifies the missing facilities and prioritizes the facilities that are urgently needed. Then they garner the funding that is required and if possible they generate funds within Mohalla Committees. Furthermore they coordinate with influential people such as political leaders and district education officers and other influential to provide the missing facilities.
Capacity building of the Mohalla Committees is carried out by making them aware of Article 25 -A implementation and Article 19A. Furthermore we inform the Mohalla Committees of the specific dates when the Budget Cycle of the government is formulated. This information makes it easier for them to convey their needs to the education department so that specific budget can be allotted to schools. Mobilization techniques are also provided by us where we orient them to tackle the archaic perceptions of parents towards education.
Our Areas of Focus
Retention of Students: Our prime aim is to enroll the Out of School Children and enhance retention rate in schools. The fact that a diverse number of individuals including local influential are present in the Mohalla Committees assists in raising the issue and formulating solutions for retention.
Access to Communities: We organize enrolment walks at union council levels in all our partner districts. The purpose of these enrollment campaigns is to enhance awareness amongst the communities about the ILM-POSSIBLE TACS program. The success of this program is due to contribution of important stakeholders which include (Educational Department officials, Union Councils administration, MC Members, Civil Society organizations, School teachers and School students.
Re-opening Closed Schools: The Mohalla Committee identifies the closed schools and approaches the education departments responsible for opening the closed schools. They are able to achieve this by creating a strong coordination link with District Education officers.
Community Development: This program has a wider impact on the community by bringing a positive change through sustainable development.
These include the construction of school rooms where the existing facilities are in a poor condition, identifying other missing facilities in school and providing these (providing furniture, white washing school, planting trees etc. These also include addressing the issue of school hygiene and cleanliness and advocating this issue in municipal corporation office.