Over one million people live in informal settlements on the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. Considered ‘unofficial’ residents, there is limited government investment in community development and limited access to clean water, sanitation, health services, housing and education.
Just over half of Pakistan’s population is literate. There are not enough schools to meet demand; high transport costs and school fees make the schooling that is available expensive for poor families, including government-run schools which are inadequately resourced and under-staffed. The education sector is faced with low enrolment rates, high dropout rates, and low transition to secondary education; female literacy rates are particularly low.
We are continuing to work with our partner in Pakistan, the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), supporting them in tackling education issues in Karachi’s poor communities. OPP is helping college-educated young people to set up small schools within their own communities by providing small grants for materials, equipment and schooling space. Links have been established between existing and newly set up schools, enabling experiences to be shared and topics such as the curriculum, books and examinations to be discussed. OPP is also supporting teacher training and the production of learning materials.
These initiatives have not only improved access to education, particularly for girls, but have also provided employment for local people as teachers – further generating parents’ interest in sending their children to school. As the schools begin to take shape, with salaried teachers and increased student enrolment, small tuition fees are introduced to make them financially viable and meet recurring costs. Teachers are able to access affordable, flexible loans to help them further improve and expand the schools. When fully established, the schools are formally registered and integrated into Pakistan’s educational system.
This project has proven to be a huge success. Good quality, affordable and accessible education is now being provided to almost 78,000 children through 577 schools, with support extended to over 4,450 young teachers (73% of whom are women).
This project has been supported by the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission, the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission and the Isle of Man Overseas Aid Committee.