Zubair was born in a small village in Pakistan where his father, Gul Rehman Khan, earned his living by collecting scrap material & selling it to recyclers. To ease his father’s burden, Zubair helped his father by carrying the scrap material to the market instead of spend his days in a classroom like children of his age do and should. When Zubair was ten, his family migrated from their home village to the city of Rawalpindi where he was enrolled as a student at a seminary within a mosque where he spent his days dreaming of going to school.
One day, Zubair was collecting scrap on the street when he saw children from his own neighbourhood going to a Zindagi Trust School located at their doorstep. He became anxious to join the school with his friends and neighbours and requested his father to let him study in this school which provided free education till Matriculation. Gul Rehman had studied till the 4th grade and realized the importance of education in transforming the future of his children. He attended a community literacy awareness session at the school on the right to education and the very next day enrolled Zubair and his four siblings into Zindagi Trust's Tehmaspabad – Rawalpindi school.
In the very first term Zubair proved himself to be a quick learner and caught up with the syllabus in a short span of time. He was always eager to demonstrate his love for school and commitment to education to his teachers. Despite there being no electricity in his slum dwellings, he regularly completed his assignments under a teashop street-light nearby. He finished the accelerated primary education programme with an A+ grade and, with the support of Zindagi Trust's donors like yourself, he has continued this journey of education by enrolling in a private secondary school - Al-Huda Education System School in Rawalpindi. He reported excitedly to our academic coordinator that he got the 2nd position in the 2nd term examination and will appear in the annual examination this month where he is also hopeful of a good performance.
Zubair is keen to have his character developed by education through the coming years and aims to join the Pakistan Army as a soldier. Students like Zubair who show incredible academic progress are role models and a source of pride for Zindagi Trust.
This report takes you through the journey of the star graduates of the Paid to Learn schools for working children across Pakistan. In 2010, with the support of our donors & well-wishers, we achieved the milestone of expanding our non-formal schooling project to include secondary education for the top students. To date, 400 students have started this journey of secondary education in private and government schools that they were placed in by our team.
The net enrolment of our graduates in this program is currently higher in girls than it is in boys. Students are studying in classes VI to X in Zindagi Trust cooperative private & government schools, an experience which can be both exciting and challenging, given the obstacles of adjusting to an environment where their classmates have been enrolled in formal education all their lives, a concept alien to them.
What is really encouraging about this project is the role of our children in their environment. In the monthly progress reports, their teachers have appreciated these children who have become role models for the rest of the children in their respective schools in terms of their behavior and attitude. Their teachers also appreciated our graduates due to their stand-out curiosity and desire to learn, as opposed to rote memorization and focus on exam scores, thanks to the formative assessment techniques used to assess student learning at Paid to Learn Schools.
We are thankful for the patronage of the project from our friends at GlobalGiving and donors like yourself. A note with a prayer for all our primary graduates studying in secondary classes: May your journey of secondary education be vibrant and full of colorful rainbows!
Tayyaba showed promise as a student from the day she started studying at one of our Paid to Learn schools, where working children get an accelerated course in primary education. She says she is blessed to have been given the opportunity to get an education and thanks Zindagi Trust for supporting her studies. But starting this journey wasn’t easy.
Tayyaba’s father has now been working as a ragman and scrap dealer in the Rawalpindi region for a long time. At the age of 4, Tayyaba showed an interest in going to school but her parents strictly forbade her from doing so and told her that studying in a school would remain only a dream. Luck wasn’t having any of this, so when the regional coordinators and field workers from our Rawalpindi team visited her neighbourhood for a student enrollment drive, they managed to convince her family to spare her from working for a few hours to join a school located conveniently close to her home.
We caught up with Tayyaba recently and she looked back at how she embarked on a mission to get an education.
“I belong to a Pukhtoon family, where girls are not allowed to go to school. I am the first in my family who went to school and opened the door for rest of the girls of my community, who later got permission to join school. It is a great achievement of Zindagi Trust’s academic team who motivated my family as well as other Pukhtoon families in that area to specially send their girls to a Zindagi Trust school.”
Tayyaba had a clear passion for education and took her studies seriously from the start, which showed in her performance at school. At her primary school graduation ceremony, where she was one of the top students in her class, she spoke about how the two-year program proved to be life-changing and shared her experiences with other Zindagi Trust students:
“Doing our best is challenging but it is always going to make a difference in our life’s journey!”
After graduating from our primary education program, Tayyaba qualified for our scholarship for the most promising graduates and was placed in the 6th-grade of a mainstream private school, Al Huda Education System. She stood first in class in her very first year in a formal school setting and is now studying in the 7th-grade – a great achievement which makes all her teachers at Zindagi Trust as well as her family extremely proud.
Tayyaba loves to read in her spare time. Her future plans involve teaching at the same Zindagi Trust school where she first got introduced to education as she has a passion to serve the children living in the slum she grew up in. She pays tribute to all her teachers for their guidance and says she appreciates the way they have been teaching children like herself.
She beams as she tells us how proud her family is of her good academic performance continuing into secondary school as well. She promises to always give her best to her studies and is committed to learning as much as she can.
Zindagi Trust wishes Tayyaba all the best!
We recently received the annual results of the two mainstream secondary schools in Karachi where our top graduates from our Paid to Learn primary education programme for working children were placed. Our graduates are doing well in their new schools and showed excellent results. At the Hammad Foundation Secondary School, three of our graduates bagged a Top 3 position in their class, a tremendous achievement given that these working children, with barely two years of informal education under their belts, were now competing with students who have been in a private school all their life.
The school’s annual prize distribution ceremony was held at the Gujjar Hall in Manzoor Colony where our Academic Coordinator, Iqbal Ahmed, was invited to see the progress of our graduates and also to present awards to 35 best students, out of whom our 3 Zindagi Trust stars were as follows:
1. Anila daughter of Nadeem of Class 8 stood 2nd out of 20 students2. Samreen daughter of Abdul Razzaq of class 6 stood 3rd out of 25 students3. Attiya daughter of Shahid Ali of class 6 stood 2nd out of 25 students
At Al-Shams Grammar School too, our graduates did a great job. Khanzaib & Rashid passed class 8 with flying colours: Khanzaib stood 2nd and Rashid stood 3rd in a class of 18 students. Sana, a student of Class 7, stood 1st in her class of 20 students. All three of these students were position-holders throughout their time at Zindagi Trust’s non-formal school and we are delighted to see that they continue to flourish in the new environment at their mainstream school.
“Without education we are blind to opportunity”
“Without education we are blind to opportunity – it is education that gives us the ability to see beyond the visible path.” These are the words of Muhammad Azeem, a 15-year-old who graduated from Paid to Learn, our non-formal primary education programme for working children. His face glowed as he put the value of education into words so eloquent they belied his age.
Azeem grew up and still lives in the notorious Karachi slum of Sohrab Goth. His father is a ragman and scrap dealer and employs the services of his entire family, including Azeem and his younger siblings, works at his shop. They live together in the traditional “joint family system” – Azeem, his parents, his siblings (six brothers and five sisters) as well as his grandparents.
After completing graduating from our non-formal primary school in Dalmia, Karachi at the top of his class, he qualified for our secondary school scholarship. He was placed in Jinnah Public School in Dalmia so he could continue his secondary education, sponsored entirely by our Secondary School Scholarship for top graduates of the Paid to Learn programme.
He is currently in the seventh grade and will sit for his Annual Examinations at the end of this month. He has shown consistency in his academic performance in the past few years, continuing his good progress from our non-formal schools to the mainstream private school where he is now a student.
Azeem treasures the time he spent at Zindagi Trust’s non-formal school for working children. Going to school had always been an unfulfilled dream for him before that point, so he is grateful to God for blessing him with the opportunity to get support for his education.
It is still a hard life for him. He gets into motion at daybreak, attending school in the morning and on his way to work with an empty sack by the time the clock hits two in the afternoon. He forages the streets for valuable scrap for the next few hours and near the end of his work day, the sack is bulging with cups, bottles, cardboard packages and bits of metal. He drags this heavy sack through his father’s shop where it will be weighed and scrap dealt.
But he doesn’t see himself doing this the rest of his life and has already begun to sketch a path out of being forced to pick through garbage. Inspired by Shehzad Roy, the singer and philanthropist who founded the organization which enabled his escape to education, Azeem has made education a priority. He is committed to learning and has set for himself the practical goal of obtaining an F.A. (a local junior college equivalent) so that he can get a white-collar job.
“I want to get a good, respectable job… in an office. Then I will be treated respectfully and I will also treat people with respect,” he said.
As a 15-year-old who has the vision and self-belief to break out of the poverty-illiteracy cycle his family is stuck in, Azeem’s work also supports the education of his younger siblings. We have truckloads of respect for this child and wish him the best for the future.
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