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Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan

by Khoj-Society for People's Education
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan
Educate the Most Underserved Children of Pakistan

Khoj School for Community Education is a school with a difference.

The students are not only immersed in relevant actions before explaining the concepts behind but also various related concepts are woven together as one whole.

While teaching plant biology, for instance, instead of bifurcating the topic into several independent chapters spread over several years, an integrated plan is chalked out under the title of How to Grow Safe Food. In a plant cycle of three months, children learn the basic scientific concepts about soils; seed structure; how a seed germinates; how plants make their food; how they consume their food; what is the cellular structure of plants and how they reproduce.

In the official curriculum, these topics are spread over a period of three years with no interconnections and no activity of involving children in learning by doing. They are required just to memorise the contents of the textbooks and the ultimate aim is to pass to the next grade without learning anything. As a result, the graduates of these classes fail to successfully grow a single plant. Applying the scientific concepts to grow plants better is nowhere on the horizon.

 But at Khoj School, children are restricted not only to the curricular topics. They learn much more in the process of growing plants starting from soil preparation to seed saving. They encounter pest and disease problems, nutrient deficiency, overwatering or underwatering and then seek solutions. They learn to make a variety of fertilizers and pesticides. They also start appreciating the importance of biodiversity, protection of habitats, garden ecology and environment. 

The action doesn’t stop there. They enjoy the harvest of their effort as well and prepare several snacks. From there they are initiated into another theme of learning that is nutrition and energy.

Some of the grade seven Khoj school students who moved from the village to the nearby towns were enrolled in grade nine. This is the testimony to the usefulness and effectiveness of the integrative and relevant method pioneered by the founder of Khoj – Society for People’s Education.

The extraordinary education at Khoj School is possible only because of your generous donations. Without you, we are not able to operate. We urge you to keep supporting us.

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Khoj School for Community Education serves as a model of integrative and relevant education. This report shares how the teaching of mathematics and gardening is blended at the school.

The children of four and fives gathered in the school garden to make preparations for growing winter vegetables. Along with the teacher, some children from grade nine were also there to guide them. The objectives were to teach how to measure the perimeter and area of a given place, rearrange the beds, redesign the garden and also to dig the soil, add farmyard manure and leaf compost and water the beds.

First of all, children removed the boundary bricks of the four large beds; the whole garden is subdivided into. Then the length and width of the boundaries of the school garden were measured and calculated. Then, they measured the area of the garden, four large beds and the footpaths with the help of the senior students. All measurements were calculated on the board and the difference between perimeter and area was explained and clarified.

The soil was dug, farmyard manure and leaf compost was add and mixed thoroughly. One large bed was further subdivided into four beds and allocated to eight students to grow vegetables of their choice. Each allocated sub-bed was measured and further divided into smaller beds and ridges.

In the end, the beds were watered for final soil preparation and sowing of seeds a few days later.

The learning as a result of the above-mentioned activity is conceptual and practical both and will remain with them even after they leave school and will help them in their practical life. 

This kind of empowering education in a remote and crime hit village is possible only because of your vital support. Please keep supporting the endeavours of Khoj School. 

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Adding sand and cement mixture to the mould
Adding sand and cement mixture to the mould

Khoj promotes education that is gender just, relevant and integrative. But the relevance and integration is not confined just to the conceptual understanding of the content and relating it to the daily lives of the learners.

The hallmark of the education here is to take the conceptual understanding to another level in their practical lives. Learning is applied in the personal and local context. While learning the plant biology, the children verify all new knowledge in the garden of nature. The garden of nature is not limited to the school garden but extends to their home gardens they have started after learning new ideas in science and mathematics.

Everyone does not have patches of land to grow ornamental and food plants. They have to make a resort to planting in pots. Khoj School for Community Education also teaches them how to makes low-cost pots of various sizes and shapes.

Children were excited to see how pot can be made using various household items using small quantities of leftover sand and cement at home. The new skill frees them from the dependence on the elders who need to look for free time and enough money to buy expensive pots from the market. Instead, they can make pots for them as well and can grow almost no cost food for the family, using organic inputs.

The new approach is helping them get conceptual understanding and scientific thinking, test their new knowledge by growing plants, make low-cost pots to grow plants on smaller spaces and grow healthy organic food using inputs available at home at no additional costs.

Children at Khoj School have started a chain of action which has the potential of growing into a movement for growing safe food.

This is possible only because of your generous donations. Your continued support will keep us doing the work.

Shaping the pot
Shaping the pot
Shaping the pot 2
Shaping the pot 2
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Hub of unwanted and troublesome activity becomes a cause for school children’s absence from school. A dilemma faced time and again. Twenty-first century and people despite technology invasion via mobile phones and electronic media, traditions and cultures remain entrenched irrespective of the changing times. Change is never imminent or instant here, eighteen years down the road the struggle continues.

A story this time is a love affair between individuals from opposing clans, a clandestine meeting and all hell break loose, although such liaisons are not unheard of and even accepted.  When the family of the woman learns about the meeting, they charged down upon the man who had by now escaped leaving behind a friend who was to keep watch, in case of such a mishap. Unfortunately, the friend was a drug addict and it was not difficult to get a confession out of him. This occurrence of having extramarital affairs is not an unknown phenomenon in the villages, there is a free mingling of the sexes,  however, when two different clans are involved it is a recipe for disaster even becomes grounds for murder and enmity.

From 150 students the number comes down to almost half because entire clan moves for fear of reprisal thus starts the end of the beginning. It takes usually a couple of months for the situation to normalize, either because the culprit gets caught or there is amnesty from the victim’s family. It is this scenario that the Khoj School operates, trying circumstances for parents and children. A gap of so many days out of school means extra effort and time.

The resilience shown by the Khoj management is truly remarkable because the gap means extra effort and no amount of cajoling nor reprimand is of help, relentlessly they continue with the remaining students waiting for the absentees to return. 

Teachers from Lahore fear going there for work. A recent setback was from an enthused teacher who offered her services at the Khoj School, she was excited at the prospect till she spoke to her family who dissuaded her because they felt it was not safe. Given these circumstances it is amazing how Khoj is surviving there, it can only be reasoned due to the dynamism of the Founder of Khoj - Society for People's Education who come rain or shine dreams of a new tomorrow.

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Listening to the Founder
Listening to the Founder

Distance has never been a deterrent for the Founder of Khoj to not interact with the students. It was March 8th International Women’s Day and travel to the field was not a possibility. Luckily, the school is set up for virtual classes which make it possible for distance learning. This opportunity allowed a discussion on what exactly it meant to celebrate this day. The Founder gave a historical background of the occasion. But this was not the only thing that happened; a lively discussion ensued, both girls and boys help their parents in farming so the concept of equality was somewhat unclear. In order that this was understood better students of higher grades were asked to prepare a short talk on role reversal.

A question arose what if women were paid for the amount of work they put towards the housework made the boys uneasy.  This is not what they would be happy paying for the work which to them was as normal activity and never crossed their minds,  one of the boys even suggested that if that were to be the case he would much rather do all the work himself. His comment led to the need for boys’ equal contribution to the domestic work.

When the stage was set, the Founder gave a short history of Millennium Development Goals and Pakistan’s performance in achieving the goal of women’s empowerment and gender equity.  It was also shared that to work towards the unfinished agenda, Sustainable Development Goals have been launched. Goal 5 of SDGs was also discussed at length.

Next morning a visit was possible. The students were excited because they had all prepared a short essay on if I were a girl/boy. When the girls wished they were boys was mostly because of mobility and freedom to do what they liked. Going to festivals and melas, sports and visiting friends at any time of the day and also for further studies to another town/city was also expressed a reason for wanting to be a boy. Riding motorbikes was another possibility if they were not girls. Interestingly a few hands were raised when the girls were asked how many would prefer being boys that showed the suppression they lived under.

On the other hand, the boys felt that if there were role reversal they would look after their parents’ needs and cook for them. Extend help to their mothers and little else. They clearly had no idea what being a girl/woman meant. The restrictions imposed on girls after dark, travelling alone to other cities while the boys could do as they wished. One student, however, wrote a very sensitive piece on how they as boys should realize how girls feel the constraints and how they as boys could help.

Khoj School has been trying to break the stereotypes and nurture an alternative culture of care and fair play through an alternative gender-sensitive curriculum. 

If I were a girl ...
If I were a girl ...
If I were a boy ...
If I were a boy ...

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Organization Information

Khoj-Society for People's Education

Location: Lahore - Pakistan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Nasira Habib
Lahore, Punjab Pakistan
$46,721 raised of $66,500 goal
 
266 donations
$19,779 to go
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