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US Charter School Model Goes Big In Pakistan

In Pakistan, the nonprofit sector has always remained insignificant and underdeveloped. Over many years, government policies towards nonprofit sector have lacked consistency because of which it failed to play a proper role for the society. But now there is a dire need for this sector to step up and place all efforts to work for the betterment of the society. The Citizens Foundation TCF is one such nonprofit organization that has started responding to the education disparities of the society.

This foundation has started to reform the education sector in Pakistan by adopting public schools. Along with physical and verbal abuse in public schools the standard of education in these institutions is not capable enough to nurture young minds. Many other organizations such as CARE and Development in Literacy are adopting public schools by taking over management and replacing or retraining the teachers.

A student Bushra Nasim living in Karachi was forced to leave the public school due to its poor standard and got enrolled into a private school. She liked the new environment with a bigger difference in teachers’ behaviors that inspired her to participate more in her class. The reason for such good environment was TCF’s trained staff that took over that school almost one year ago. The incredibly managed school under TCF’s management encouraged Bushra’s parents to get three of her siblings enrolled in the same school.

Around the world, nonprofit organizations operate their own schools and manage them with donations. But with government schools, the management is taken over by such foundations which retrains the staff or replaces it with experienced teachers. This is similar to charter schools in US where independent management groups operate the public schools but they are operated free of any cost.

The nonprofit organization such TCF is eager to work more in this sector because this is the easiest way to improve the education standard in public schools. With the increasing population and low levels of living it is hard for parents to send their children to private schools and pay higher fees. Revamping public schools not only saves time but also saves money which can be put to other good uses such as health of children.

But there are some limitations to this kind of educational reform. According to many people without intense developments, Pakistan’s education crises cannot be solved. Major portion of public schools in the country is understaffed and underfunded. Schools building are in extremely poor condition and teachers do not even care to show up for students. According to Mosharraf Zaidi leadin the advocacy group nonprofit organizations such as TCF can reforms to a certain level but the entire education system of the country depends on public schools which needs to be changed on a bigger level.

Because of these issues there is another strategy that has been adopted by another nonprofit organization Zindigi Trust to adopt the schools and provide classes for soccer, chess, and art. It adopted a school in Karachi and invested around 100 million Pakistani rupees to upgrade the campus focusing on minor problems such as availability of safe drinking water for pupils in the school.

According to the pop singer, activist, and director of the Zindigi Trust, Shehezad Roy the improvements in government schools can be helpful in refining the entire education system. Not just the education but these trusts are a reason for bringing a change in the overall system of institutions.

He states that the improved campuses act as a model to improve education policies. He counts half a dozen reforms including prohibition of physical punishment and permitting non-government textbooks in the classrooms. He considers it a success as the adopted schools are doing best in impacting the entire education system of the country.

Via: Houston Public Media

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Written by Hisham Sarwar

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