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Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school

by Zindagi Trust
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Send 50 Pakistani child workers to high school
Ahsan: An aspiring engineer stitching car seats
Ahsan: An aspiring engineer stitching car seats

Dear Friends, 

Zindagi Trust was established with the philosophy that every child deserves the chance to transform their lives through an education, regardless of their ability to afford it. The Paid to Learn  (PTL)  project along with its subsidiary project of Secondary School Sponsorship (SS) began in 2002 with the mission of educating child labourers working in urban slums across Pakistan to improve their standard of living. 

With a heavy heart, we have decided to close down the Secondary School Sponsorship (SS) project as we focus all our efforts on reforming government schools across Pakistan. Through our work in school reform and PTL, we came to realise something: the need to improve government schools - which remain the prevailing school system and the only kind of education accessible to 60% of Pakistani children - is critical and has a far-reaching and more sustainable impact than creating an alternative system of education. 

Please read on to learn about the impact of the SS project which your generous contributions created.

About the program and the implementation

Paid to Learn educated working children from urban slums across Pakistan through an accelerated two-year course which provided primary education to children employed as street vendors, store or factory helpers or auto-repair workers across Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi. As an incentive for the children and to make up for the loss of money due to skipping work, the children were paid a scholarship stipend on completion of every term. 

In 2012, we initiated the Secondary Sponsorship project as a way for top graduates from Paid to Learn to continue their secondary studies in mainstream schools, giving promising students a chance to complete their matriculation. Upon graduation from primary, students who had maintained 80% attendance and had scored upward of 75% (average) from Kindergarten till Grade 5 were selected. These students would then be enrolled in mainstream private secondary schools in the 6th grade by the SS staff, with the admissions and monthly fee, as well as the cost of their textbooks, stationery and uniforms covered by the Trust. Private schools were selected on the basis of the quality of education offered and the concession provided by them. In partnership with the Principals of these schools, our regional teams would visit these students at their new schools every quarter and get updates about their academic performance and attendance until they finished the 10th grade and matriculated.

Impact and Challenges

Since the inception of the program, our regional teams have partnered with 19 such private secondary schools across the three cities and enrolled a total of 556 students in the program, with the first batch of students appearing for their Matric examinations in 2017. Till date, 90 students have completed their matriculation and left behind a life of labour and poverty. 100 students from Lahore and Pindi are expected to appear for examinations between 2020 and 2025. 

Your contributions have helped students like Ahsan, a top graduate of PTL who was enrolled in SS. Ahsan is scheduled to appear for his matric exam when the lockdown is lifted and examinations resume. He is passionate about pursuing a career in Computer Engineering while he balances his studies with his job as a workman in a mechanic’s shop. 

Unfortunately, along with the success stories, the program also experienced a sizable number of students who dropped out before the completion of their education. The majority of such students belonged to families who had migrated from Afghanistan or villages in Pakistan to the larger cities of Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi to find work. Such families would eventually leave or go back to their homes because of either displacement due to security operations or being unable to sustain themselves financially. In many cases, increasing rent prices also forced families to move away from the area where the secondary schools were located. A few of the working children were also unable to cope with the clash between the morning school hours of mainstream schools and their working hours as a food vendor, cleaner, car repairman or other day job.

The demanding transition from Urdu-medium PTL schools to English-medium private schools was also a contributing factor for students dropping out which was difficult to counter due to the unavailability of Urdu-medium private schools in the areas where some students resided. 

What we learnt: 

We asked ourselves the reason why some working children managed to complete their matriculation despite the challenges they faced. The answer, as we learnt from teachers and regional team members we spoke to, was the child’s own motivation and love for an education along with support from their family being another critical factor. 

Asif, a graduate of PTL who used to work as a scrap collector in garbage fills when he was recruited into one of our primary schools is now a budding actor/model as well as in his last semester of his bachelors degree in computer science degree.

“In Pakhtun families like mine, boys are not encouraged to study and are expected to start earning at a very young age. My mother was a trailblazer - she stood up for me against the family tradition and pushed to let me continue my studies. I showed great results in school and that encouraged my mother even more. Together with her, I overcame many hurdles that my family put in the way of my education.”

Another learning for us is that constant follow-up, mentoring and counseling with all beneficiaries (the student, their parents and school management) are required to ensure regularity in student attendance for a population that is new to schooling, as well ensuring extra effort to ease the transition of students from Urdu-medium non-formal schools to English medium private schools. 

Process of Closure and current status

The last batch of new students entered the sponsorship program in 2018, and the Trust continued to support them as well as students who were previously enrolled with the help of your generous donations till closure this past month. At this point, 113 top graduates were still enrolled in secondary school and had several months or years left until they would complete their matriculation in the coming years. Our regional teams have worked diligently to partner with similar NGOs and the existing secondary schools to ensure these students can carry on their education; an endeavour which was successful. Every one of these 113 students will continue to study, free-of-charge through the end of their matriculation thanks to the generosity of the owners and Principals of these schools. 

Once again, without your support, we would have been unable to help children like Asif and Ahsan who truly made the best of their chance at transforming their lives through education. We started this program when there was nothing being done for working children. With our work on government school reform growing and getting pace, we have learnt that having a complete school infrastructure provides students the environment they need to thrive and become educated responsible citizens and we hope to continue working on strengthening the government school system so that it can accommodate students like Asif and Ahsan.

As we say goodbye from this project, we invite you to learn more about our government school reform project and consider supporting it. You can make a donation today to Transform Pakistan’s under resourced girls schools!

Ahsan: Preparing for his Matric exam
Ahsan: Preparing for his Matric exam
Asif: A university student & aspiring actor
Asif: A university student & aspiring actor

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Meet Tariq
Meet Tariq

13-year-old Tariq wakes up diligently every morning at the crack of dawn and pulls out his textbooks to revise the lessons he was taught in school the previous day. After revising for an hour, he makes his entire family breakfast, and then heads out to his school, the Al Huda Education System, located in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city. Upon returning back home, he changes out of his uniform and heads out yet again for tuition classes. Once done, he departs for a junk shop where he helps his elder brother with his job of collecting and selling scrap paper. Once his brother has counted his earnings for the day, which amount to less than $1, they make their way back to their one-room home.

Tariq’s brother is the only bread earner for the 11-member family, while his parents do not work, due to ill health and old age. His family’s dire financial situation has only served to motivate him more to study well, graduate, and work his way towards becoming a doctor with his own practice, so he may be able to help his parents and his siblings. His dedication is definitely reflective in his grades, as he consistently ranks amongst the top students in his Science, and Language classes. While Science remains is his favourite subject, he has developed an affinity for languages. “One of the best things about attending school has been that I can now read and write, which has helped me make more sense of what is going on around me” he says while talking about why he enjoys his Urdu and English language classes.

Prior to attending formal secondary school, Tariq used to work the whole day as a scavenger, similar to his elder brother. He soon came across the Paid to Learn Program by Zindagi Trust through which he was enrolled in the accelerated primary school program for 3 years. Upon the completion of this program Tariq then gained admission into the school he is a student at today, as a part of the Zindagi Trust’s Secondary Sponsorship Program where students are not only given support for admission into grade six at a formal school but also given a full scholarship till Grade 10.

Please continue to support Tariq in realizing his dream to become a medical practitioner and better his family’s future.

 

 

Busy in class
Busy in class

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Sowing car seats at a workshop
Sowing car seats at a workshop

‘My teachers often ask me who I want to be when I grow up, and everyday my answer changes. Sometimes I want to be an Computer Engineer, and sometimes I want to be a Mathematician; but whichever path I choose, I know I want to be someone whom my family and my country can be proud of’ says Ahsan, as he smiles at us. The sweat drips off his brow, and it is difficult to hear him over the whirring of the aged sowing machine. Ahsan uses the sowing machine to make car seat covers in a dimly lit workshop located in a marginalized area of the city.

Such ambitions may seem strange coming from a twelve year old child who spends his evening toiling in a mechanic’s workshop, but Ahsan’s story is unlike others. He is also a student of Grade 8 at a private school in Rawalpindi (a city located adjacent to Pakistan’s federal capital), where his studies are financially supported by Zindagi Trust’s Secondary Sponsorship Program. The SSP is preceded by a two-year accelerated primary schooling program which is taught to those children who have not had the opportunity to go to school in their early years. After successful completion of the accelerated program, students are not only given support for admission into grade six at a formal school but also given a full scholarship till Grade 10.

Ahsan is the first amongst his siblings to receive an education. His elder brother is a construction laborer. Ahsan tells us he could not attend school before age 10, because he had to help out in his father’s workshop, and going to school would have meant leaving his father to attend to the busy shop singlehandedly. Luckily, Zindagi Trust’s field team convinced his father to let him attend the Trust’s schools in the evening. After his father saw Ahsan’s performance during his time in the accelerated primary course, he enrolled Ahsan’s younger siblings in school as well.

Now, during the day Ahsan attends high school where his favorite subjects are Computer and Mathematics, subjects in which he received second position this year amongst his entire class. After school he immediately runs home to take care of his younger siblings till his mother, who works as a domestic helper in nearby houses, returns home. When his mother is back, Ahsan is off to the workshop where he works till midnight, sowing car seats and fitting them onto the frames of the cars brought in by clients. However, his most treasured part of the day remains his Computer class, where he especially enjoys learning about the different components of hardware and software, and how the two interact together.

Unknown to Ahsan, he is already making his family proud by exhibiting such dedication to his education and his family. We are confident that with such dedication he will make his nation proud of him in no time. Your donations will keep on supporting his professional and personal aspirations in life.

Ahsan participating in class
Ahsan participating in class
All smiles showing his seat in the computer lab
All smiles showing his seat in the computer lab

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Meet Muskan
“I want to keep studying because I love doing so. It was my Papa’s dream to see me and my siblings get educated, and become successful in life. Every time I would wear my eye glasses he would call me ‘Doctor’. I want to keep his dream alive and this is why I try to give my best every single day!’ says the inspirational 15 year old Muskan Arshad from Lahore, Pakistan. Muskan’s father, a sweeper, passed away very early on in her life, leaving behind his family of 6 in both an emotional and financial crisis. Her mother, who is now the only breadwinner of the family works at a school as a cleaner to support the education of 4 out of her 5 children, with an income of only 65 USD per month.

Muskan contributes to her family income by helping her mother tailor clothes in the evenings, after school. Her mother has a simple set up at home, where she stitches outfits given to her by neighbouring families in the colony. Through this labour, Muskan is able to give her mother USD 14 every month so her siblings may be able to attend school. Muskan’s aim every month is to stitch as many extra clothes as possible so that she may be able to earn an extra 3 USD, which she uses to pay for evening tuition classes held at her school.

Muskan dropped out of school in first grade because of her family’s inability to afford her education. Muskan found herself completely unsatisfied with life since she wanted to resume her studies. 6 months passed before she came across, Paid to Learn Program by Zindagi Trust a non-formal 2 year accelerated primary school program. Upon successful completion of this program, Muskan was then admitted to Allama Iqbal Public High School in Lahore, Pakistan, as a part of the Zindagi Trust’s Secondary Sponsorship Program where students are not only given support for admission into grade six at a formal school but also given a full scholarship till Grade 10.

Muskaan’s passion for learning is immediately palpable as well as her curiosity and fascination with life. “I like science because through that I get to learn about the world, learning about force, pressure, chemicals… I love stories and I love history! When my papa was alive I used to ask him to tell me stories about partition and people from the villages,” She recalls.
Muskan wants to become a doctor who treats patients regardless of their ability to pay. “I want to become a doctor and have my own practice. I do not want to work under anyone, so that I can practise however I want and treat those who cannot afford treatment” she says, ever the aspiring entrepreneur.

Please continue to support our Secondary Sponsorship Program! Your donations will continue to help Muskan, and others like her, in realizing their professional ambitions, and one day fulfilling their dreams.
Madiha Rashid Siddiqui
Program Officer
Zindagi Trust
p: +92 021 111-111-439 
a: 94-C Haji Abdul Razzak Janoo Street Faran Housing Society Karachi
e: madiha.siddiqui@zindagitrust.org
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Reading about the spinal cord
Reading about the spinal cord

Simran appears enrapt as she curiously stares into her grade 8 science book. The page visible shows an illustration of a small spark of light travelling from the human brain to the spinal cord and finally to a human arm. Today, her class is learning about the nervous system and the wondrous manner in which messages are relayed to and from our brain.

As she reads the Urdu passages that accompany the diagram with contemplation, one can tell Simran is in a mental and physical space that she enjoys. And why wouldn’t she be— science is what will enable her to one day become a doctor, a desire she holds close to her heart: it was her late father’s wish for her.

Fourteen year old Simran is studious and hardworking. Although losing her father was the most difficult thing she and her family had to deal with, Simran is focused in life and determined to succeed. Her mother, a single parent, earns USD 85 a month working as a housekeeper while Simran works at a beauty salon and is able to contribute about USD 7 to the family income. Their total income is just sufficient to provide them the basic necessities in life including an education for Simran’s three younger siblings. Simran counts the advantages of pursuing an education including how it has allowed her to be better at her job, “I can read the English written on products we use at the Salon now and I have become better at handling and talking to customers.”

She graduated from Zindagi Trust’s Paid to Learn Program, a three year non-formal accelerated primary school program. Upon the completion of this program Simran gained admission into Allama Iqbal Public High School through Zindagi Trust’s Secondary Sponsorship Program where students are not only given support for admission into grade 6 at a formal school but also given a full scholarship till Grade 10. Simran is a star student, ranking third in her class last year, and her ambition will settle for nothing less this year too!

With your donations Zindagi Trust can continue to support more students like Simran.  Please consider donating!

Taking notes
Taking notes
With some classmates
With some classmates
Star Student Simran
Star Student Simran

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Organization Information

Zindagi Trust

Location: Karachi, Sindh - Pakistan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @zindagitrust
Project Leader:
Abdul Haque
CEO
Karachi, Sindh Pakistan

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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