Fatima's Heart

Listen to the Rhythm of my Heart!

Paid to Learn !

on May 26, 2014

Have you heard of 8 functional schools running within a single campus? Schools renting out its grounds for private and wedding parties at night? Well, this is a norm in the public school system of Karachi, Pakistan where there are 3,625 government schools but only 900 campuses, and we are talking about just one city of Pakistan.

Zindagi Trust is a non-profit organization that strives to reform public schools, educating working children and lobbying the government to improve education policy. It’s vision is to give every child a chance at transforming his or her life through education. It wants to improve the quality of education available to the average Pakistani.

School Reform:

The organization strives to effect public school reform as opposed to creating alternative systems that will always struggle to reach the masses. For this reason, lobbying the government to effect recommendations learned from their school reform project into policy is a critical tenet of their work.

Zindagi Trust took over the management of a government school SMB Fatima Jinnah Girls School in November 2007 with the aim of transforming it into a model school and documenting the process in getting there with the objective of creating a blueprint for government school reform.Throughout the project, they worked closely with the Education Department, lobbying the government to institutionalize the policies they introduced so that schools across the province can benefit from them.

School Consolidation Policy

When Zindagi Trust took over the management of the school campus, there were eight schools functional within a single campus: five primary schools (class one to five) and three secondary schools (class six to 10) in the same school premises, each with its own set of teachers and administrators which could not be shared. Zindagi Trust merged the eight schools into one at SMB School and also lobbied successfully for policy reform to prevent this administrative nightmare from continuing in other schools: in July 2011, the Sindh Education Secretary issued a notification approving the School Consolidation Policy that aims to merge adjoining and nearby schools in one campus under one administration.

Private (ab)use of school grounds

Another curious practice inherited by the school was the renting out of the school grounds to private parties for wedding dinners at night. The grounds were never cleaned up to be ready for the children the next day, with leftovers from the dinner attracting the neighbourhood’s wild dogs instead! This not only rendered the grounds unusable by the students, depriving them of their right to play sports and run around and express themselves, but also presented a serious hazard. After taking over the school, Zindagi Trust had the grounds cleaned out and put an end to any such activities on the school premises, and successfully pushed the government to implement the same in schools across the city.

The School Reform project at the SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School in Karachi has involved the following:

1. Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Development:
which includes building a Health Room, staffed with a full-time nurse, an Art Room, a Library, an Audio Visual Room, two Computer Labs and a Science Lab.

2. Administrative Changes:
which includes maintaining teacher /student records for attendance and performance, hiring custodial staff for maintenance and cleanliness of the existing and refurbished premises, detailing staff responsibilities and job descriptions and formulating a detailed admissions policy.

3. Academic Innovation and Planning:
which includes introduction of modern, thought-provoking textbooks in Urdu, English, Mathematics (almost all provided free to the students), having a video-based science curriculum in their well-equipped A/V Room, hiring academic coordinators for English, Mathematics and Science to plan syllabi with learning outcomes and to design tests, monitor progress, observe and train teachers.

4. Teacher Reform :
which includes monitoring teacher attendance and evaluating teacher performance through regular teaching demos, lesson plan reviews as well as in-class monitoring by academic coordinators throughout the term.

5. Student Affairs :
including introduction of learning modules like art, chess, sports (netball, basketball, football, hockey, throwball, , cricket), public speaking and sexual health and abuse awareness.

Paid to Learn Program

19 million children in Pakistan cannot afford to go to school. 10.5 million such children are forced to work in menial jobs to support family income. These working children are exploited by their employers: they are grossly underpaid and receive no education to improve their future prospects. Most of them are completely illiterate and some even live on the street, finding it difficult to integrate into mainstream society even if they are given the opportunity.

The “Paid to Learn” program recruits children who work in the urban slums of Pakistan and enrolls them in a 2.2-year accelerated non-formal curriculum of primary education. The programme also sponsors the continuing education of top graduates who are encouraged to enroll in mainstream secondary schools. This helps the children, toiling in car-repair shops & other general stores in Karachi, Lahore & Rawalpindi, see a window out of child labour; makes them aware of their rights as children, as workers and as citizens; empowers them as responsible and more complete future citizens of a young Pakistan, all the while making a dent on the country’s literacy rate. The programme serves nearly 2300 working children at any time, nearly a 700 of whom graduate from the primary education course every year.

Be My Buddy

If you are looking to make a more long-term commitment to a child’s education, you can sponsor the education of a working child as well as develop a relationship with them through their Be My Buddy program.

You can sponsor a term ($25) a year ($75) or whole primary school education ($175) of a worker child. You can exchange letters with the child and also get regular updates on the progress of the child.

Be my buddy NOW ! Donate here….http://zindagitrust.org/donate.php

Volunteer Program


Did you know you could volunteer at Zindagi Trust!

Zindagi Trust is always looking for passionate volunteers to help out at their schools, be it with teaching a course or running an awareness programme on health and nutrition. They also welcome those who can help with fundraising, be it through organizing an actual event at a college or home, or assisting in their campaigns through writing, graphic design, film-making or video editing skills.

Hours are flexible and school credit can be awarded. If you work in education or development and have an idea for a project or advice or just want to exchange thoughts – contact them through their website.



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