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Slices from Life

Wooing Children to School

By Munaj Gul Muhammad

Shah Meer Sowali with the dog he wanted to sell. Photo Courtesy: Munaj Gul

Little Shah Meer Sowali got a dog with him to the bazaar in Turbat. He sold the dog for a small sum because he lives hand to mouth. His beloved and aged father is lame and they live in a broken room. Seeing the condition of little Shah Meer, members of an organisation called SFA (School for All) approached Shah Meer’s family and took the responsibility of the little boy and his little sister as before they both were out-of-school. The family had been unable to enroll the little children because of poverty.  Now, Shah Meer and his sister are enrolled in Bolan School.

The SFA is a non-profit organisation working for the promotion of education and reduction of student dropouts along with enrolling unschooled children into schools in Turbat since its establishment. It was established on October 1, 2020. Since its inception, the organisation has been successfully enrolling many orphans and disabled children along with financially weak children into different private and government educational institutions. The organisation is registered under Balochistan Charities Regulation Authority [BCRA] and is designed to serve the cause of education in the province. The organisation facilitates education of the enrolled students until they matriculate. These children are provided with books, shoes, bags, uniforms, stationery and fees along with other basic amenities.

Given that Pakistan is one of the most illiterate countries of the world, education for people is a daydream. Fahad Baloch, had to go to Quetta to get a basic education.  Unlike Fahad, his brother was not as fortunate. Despite wanting to go to school, he could not. A large chunk of children had no access to uneducated in his locality. But now this gap is being attempted to be bridged by the SFA.

The prime ambition of this organisation is to aid edifying the society where everyone acquires the opportunity to receive an education. They also hope to subsidise the costs. The organisation has successfully conducted three educational awareness programs in different areas of the region and received an affirmative response of the society to enrolling the out-of-school children into schools. The core drive of conducting such programmes was to impart a real sense or essence of education to the minds of the people in the region.

The SFA has been successful in enrolling 21 out-of-school children into private schools and 34 in government institutions. These enrolled children are registered by an agreement drawn up between the organisation and the parents of the children. They have even opened four bookstalls in the region to help get books to those who can read. “The benefits received by the SFA from the bookstalls go to these needy people,” said Kamran Gichki of the SFA. “Since the inception of the organisation, we approached many people, among them some were government officials from the concerned departments, and we shared our motives with them. We received affirmative and moral support from these officers but got financial support only from the middle-class residents in the region. The government is yet to support us in our efforts financially even though by Article 25A, they have made education a must for five to sixteen year olds.”

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Munaj Gul Muhammed is a journalist and a LLB student at Faculty of Law, University of Turbat. He tweets at @MunajGul

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