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Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools

by Zindagi Trust
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
Transform Pakistan's under-resourced Girls Schools
smartphone distribution and safe usage orientation
smartphone distribution and safe usage orientation

For the last several months, we have strived to continue school while we were away from school - through distance learning, a host of activities promoting the holistic development of our students and, finally, planning and preparing for safe school reopening. 

Our schools adapted quickly to continuing learning from a distance post-COVID19. We designed, printed and distributed physical Learning Packs to our students' homes, making sure they included activities that fostered independent and active learning, creativity and mindfulness. Some of the exercises for students included home science experiments using garden waste (e.g. to explore how water and nutrients travel through a leaf), art through recycled or kitchen materials (e.g. turmeric and vinegar tie dye) and learning through stories.

Our teachers, guided by their relevant Subject Leads from the Professional Development team, recorded and edited video lessons to share in their Whatsapp Classrooms. These Whatsapp classrooms allowed for asynchronous learning and also featured instruction, Q&A and peer learning through voice notes, texts and photos of assignments. They also helped students feel connected to their school and classmates, which was an important aspect of our School Away From School during a time of isolation.

We distributed smartphones and data packages to all fifth grade students in order to make online learning smooth and accessible for a grade who were able to follow online instruction yet unable to access even Whatsapp at home. Students and parents were called to the school with strict COVID19 prevention protocols (staggered slots, mask compliance and physical distancing) to register, get their phones and attend an orientation/training by the school IT team on how to use their smartphone safely. A total of 1200 students of Grades 6 through 10 were also engaged in Math, English and Science classes twice a week remotely through a blended learning program by the name of Knowledge Platform.

Now more than ever it was clear that education needed to go beyond the basic and traditional. We took our annual Summer Camp online and hosted tens of enriching and empowering talks, and workshops for our students on topics including architecture in nature, entrepreneurship, feminism, activism, environmental consciousness, fitness, yoga, solo female travel and even improv storytellingWe trained our art and sports teachers as Lay Counselors after which 10 of them did phone check-ins with students to ensure their mental health and wellbeing, referring any serious concerns to the School Counselor. We launched Tiflatoona series of original animated children's stories in Urdu for today's Pakistan, aiming to spark curiosity and bring joy in a time of isolation, to students from our schools and beyond.

Finally, we put several heads together to ensure we were prepared for safe school reopening - drafting, consulting on, training staff on and implementing clear Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) for everything from entrance checks to trash disposal and allowed vs disallowed vs adapted student co-curricular activities in art, music, sports, etc. After a phase-wise reopening starting from 9th and 10th grade on September 15th, all our students from Kindergarten to Grade 10 are back in school now, though we are still operatingon a rota system with half the population coming on alternate days. 

We are so pleased that our schools are finally back open for all students, a full seven months after COVID19 hit. Enjoy the following videos highlighting (i) the first day back to school and possibly the biggest school day of 2020, and (ii) students sharing what they missed the most about school.

This continues to be a challenging year for us and we need all your support in raising funds to sustain our project. In addition to making a donation yourself, we would request you to champion our cause to 2-3 friends to make a gift on #GivingTuesday as their last chance to get in their donations before the tax year ends. Donate to Zindagi Trust on Tuesday, December 1st 2020 to help our under-resourced schools win a piece of the million-dollar pie - the more donations people like you make on the day, the more additional funds we will receive from #GivingTuesday. Applicable for all online donations (credit card, debit card, PayPal, ApplePay and GlobalGiving gift cards) made through 1st December 2020 Eastern Time.

Workshop on Child Rights on Zoom
Workshop on Child Rights on Zoom
Workshop with writer Saba Imtiaz
Workshop with writer Saba Imtiaz
Weekly debrief for Lay Counselors
Weekly debrief for Lay Counselors
Temperature checks at the school entrance
Temperature checks at the school entrance
Primary school students watching a Tiflatoon story
Primary school students watching a Tiflatoon story
jumping with joy, masked edition
jumping with joy, masked edition

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Students' submissions for an Art Competition
Students' submissions for an Art Competition

Innovating Holistic Education for Under-resourced Schools during a Pandemic

Four months into the pandemic-mandated schools' shutdown in Pakistan, we are continually innovating ways to deliver holistic education to the girls in our under-resourced government schools. In the initial days of the lockdown, our focus was to engage our students in creative activities to help them cope with these unprecedented circumstances. With the help of some great local artists, illustrators, and our own art teachers, we formulated learning packs that had activities promoting mindfulness, gratitude, reflection, and fun and sent them to our students' homes.

While our students came up with creative responses to the questions and exercises in the first set of worksheets, the school management and government school teachers, who were previously not tech savvy, made Whatsapp Groups for each section of each class to allow student-teacher engagement. Teachers have sent text, video and voice instructions on these groups both to introduce new topics and conduct follow-along activities with students who have since participated in art competitions, and learnt to tie-dye their clothes using kitchen ingredients instead of fancy art supplies. Our students love engaging with their teachers through Whatsapp and social media and demand more activities to let their creativity flow.

It was important for us to focus on nourishing our students' body and soul along with keeping them mentally engaged, so we introduced weekly online meditation and yoga classes conducted by a Yoga Alliance certified yoga instructor trained in classical hatha yoga from South India. Many students, including some girls who were very active in sports at school, are attending these classes regularly and feel refreshed after much needed physical exercise. The students have not only learnt several basic yoga poses, including mountain, cat-cow, constructive rest pose, and bridge but also breathing exercises and how being mindful of their breath can help manage feelings of anxiety and anger. These yoga classes are a hit among the students and teachers alike, and as the weeks pass, our students have started involving their family members in these classes too.

Continuing our focus on the mental wellbeing of our students during these challenging times, our school counsellor has been reaching out to our students to check in with them and identify if they need any help. We are also conducting Mental Health First Aid workshops to train our art and sports teachers as lay counsellors, who will then reach out to students for phone check-ins. When the lockdown was announced, we conducted a survey with our students’ families to gauge their immediate needs and their access to technology. Based on the findings, we distributed care packages with food and hygiene essentials to our students to take care of their and their families' immediate needs.

Meanwhile, our teachers were making a second set of learning packs for each class, this time focusing more on academic content and continuing education. These packs were made for students from Kindergarten to Grade 8, focusing on the revision of topics in English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Urdu that have already been taught to the students. While some of the exercises in the learning packs are similar to class worksheets, the Science worksheets include a lot of experiments that can be done with material readily available at home. Currently, we are in the process of sending these learning packs to more than 2500 students enrolled in our schools.

As the distribution of the learning packs is completed for each class, teachers will start engaging with students of that class via their class Whatsapp groups – sending them explanations and instructions, helping them where needed, and checking their responses once completed. The students with limited or no access to technology will be reached through phone calls through which their teachers will give them instructions to follow and complete the worksheets in their learning packs. After one month of revision targeting mastery of the previous term’s content, next month’s learning packs will introduce topics from the new term.

Our teachers are also going through rigorous training online to get accustomed to conducting online classes via Zoom, developing pre-recorded lessons, and using Knowledge Platform, a Learning Management System that will not only allows student-teacher engagement but also has its own content deployed for English, Mathematics, and Science which our students will be following. The teachers will conduct online classes with the students of Grades 9 and 10 via Zoom and assign associated tasks for them on Knowledge Platform.

Donate!

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Pakistan, we need your help now more than ever to deliver holistic education to our students. With your help, we can continue supporting our students to continue their education during the lockdown.

Our students bringing life to the learning packs
Our students bringing life to the learning packs
Student sharing a shirt she revamped with tie-dye
Student sharing a shirt she revamped with tie-dye
Students attending their weekly online yoga class
Students attending their weekly online yoga class
Zoom training for ECE teachers
Zoom training for ECE teachers
General Science Worksheet for students of Grade 8
General Science Worksheet for students of Grade 8
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Organization Information

Zindagi Trust

Location: Karachi, Sindh - Pakistan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @zindagitrust
Project Leader:
Sana Kazmi
Karachi, Sindh Pakistan

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