OUT OF SCHOOL CHILDREN EDUCATION PROGRAM
Pakistan stands among those countries where a large proportion of out of school children have the gruesome status of street children. According to government sources, more than 1.5 million girls and boys live in the country’s streets, a figure that civil society believes to be as high as 2.5 million. After its successful experience on inclusive education for all children through community-school networking (CSN), GRACE in 2017 started this model to bringing children back to school from street. GRACE having its registered office in Blue Area Islamabad, identified the geographic area of Bari Imam and Alipur Islamabad where a large population in the surrounding villages of Bari Imam Shrine and Alipur Frash are living under the state of extreme poverty. Children from displaced and migrant families are compelled to spend most of their time in streets and are highly vulnerable and exposed to the physical and sexual abuse.
GRACE initiated a project in collaboration partnership with the Global Fund for Children (GFC) after conducting a random survey of 100 families in 2017. That survey helped identify economically the most vulnerable families and school dropped out/ out of school and street children. Almost 93.4% of the families surveyed found most economically vulnerable as none of the family member is employed on a regular job. Most of them eke out living by joining daily wage labour. Over 200 children found schools dropped out, out of school and street children.
GRACE-GFC endeavors for those children and at the outset 123 children enrolled in existing community run or public schools in Bari Imam and Alipur Islamabad. As an incentive GRACE has devised a tuition fee package of Rs.500/- per child for six months which is paid to the school. GRACE project also provides school books, stationery and uniform on need basis for the enrolled children. GRACE also conducts a series of meetings with parents and organizes teachers training for improving the school teaching and learning environment and conducts motivational and awareness sessions for parents to improve children’s daily routines, foods, hygiene habits and behavior. GRACE signs a memorandum of understanding with them to ensuring continued education for the child beyond GRACE support.
This model is yielding promising results. The partner schools, teachers and parents report that children’s overall school performance is rising. They are eager to attend the school regularly and therefore their attendance is improving. Teachers’ reports and the annual assessments show that teachers training helped improve students learning outcomes. GRACE is making efforts to replicate and expand this project to more villages in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and in Baltistan.