Myra Khan was previously a Programme Officer at Teach For Pakistan and now works in the Alumni Impact team.
One thing we have found consistently as an organisation working in the education sector in Pakistan is that there is not enough knowledge about the problems that are faced in under-resourced schools and low-income communities.
Questions we are often asked by prospective Fellows are: Where do our Fellows work? What do the classrooms look like? What infrastructure is available? Where will my students come from?
Below is a slideshow of pictures I have taken on visits to Teach For Pakistan’s placement schools in Karachi, and I hope to answer some of your questions by this. Also check out our locations to find out which communities we work with in Karachi and Lahore.
(Click on any picture to start the slideshow.)
All photographs belong to Teach For Pakistan.
A classroom in a placement school in Saddar. The school has been under construction for the past two years, with no blackboards, windows or basic classroom facilities.
Most in schools in Karachi have limited grounds for schools to conduct extra curricular activities.
Asiya, a Grade 9 student from Neelum Colony, in an Maths lesson. Asiya wants to be a teacher when she finishes her education.
Teach For Pakistan Fellow Imaan on her last day in her classroom. The posters on the wall depict a mix of charts for learning and highly aspirational goals Fellows keep for their students.
A girl gazes out of a classroom as her teacher is absent. Reports estimate in total 1 out of 4 teachers in Pakistan are absent.
The view from this classroom directly looks into a makeshift house. Many government schools are located in the communities they serve – some of the lowest income households in Karachi.
Enrollment in schools across Pakistan still leaves much to be desired. 20.1% of children in Pakistan aged 6 to 16 are out of school.
Students are often behind grade level as they are promoted to the next level despite not achieving a passing grade. Only 2% of all children in Pakistan posses grade level-appropriate skills and knowledge. In NGO-run schools such as this in Shirin Jinnah, learning levels are higher.
Teach For Pakistan Fellow and LUMS graduate Asif conducts a Math class in a school in Shirin Jinnah.
Two students smile in a hallway of a government school in Sultanabad, Karachi. The writing behind them says ‘It is the duty of every man and woman to gain an education.’
A school teacher hangs a bell in a school in Sultanabad. Most teachers in government schools struggle to complete lessons at periods last only 25 to 35 minutes each. Experts recommend at least 45 minutes for an entire lesson.
A student in Sultanabad stands while completing a test. If he sits on the seat, he cannot reach the desk. Infrastructure in schools in often not student-centric.
Reports estimate almost 45% of students enrolled will drop out from Grades 1 to 5. This is due to a number of reasons – students are often left uninspired by school, forced to help support their family’s income and are subjected to corporal punishment.
A group of boys at a Sultanabad school. If the right school environment exists, many students do stay in school. Education reports worldwide find that the teacher plays the most important role in a students education experience.
Ahmed Rubbie Jamshed is a Fellow in the 2012 cohort. He teaches Science and English to Grades 8 and 9 at Roshni School in Lahore. Ahmed has done BSc from the Lahore School of Economics.
“Out of a total of 40 students that took the science exam, over half the class scored A grades, 10 students scored B grades and only a handful scored lesser than that”
Ahmed is a grade 7 science teacher at Roshni School in Lahore. He feels fortunate to have taught in what he refers to as bipolar surroundings. He has taught in schools which are both predominantly conservative, but cater to opposite genders. MAO School in Karachi was an all boys’ school where he taught in the summer and the students were mostly Pashtuns. Roshni School in Lahore- where he has been teaching for over a year- is an all girls’ school where 90% of the students wear hijabs. The former school had problems of aggression and physical violence whereas the latter school has students who are under confident and taciturn.
Ahmed says, “When I joined Roshni School, there was an ongoing problem with science classes because the school hadn’t had a proper science teacher in over 3 years. The students barely had any concepts and they were to appear for board exams of grade 8 in 5 months’ time. So the clock was ticking and I was given the responsibility of bringing their concepts to their respective grade levels and ultimately preparing 40 students for the board exams. It was a really hard task to balance the student learning outcomes from the national curriculum and the syllabus that the school was following but eventually I found the right mix. I held after school remediation, extra classes and even test sessions on Sundays. The foremost thing was the willingness of students to learn and their trust in me that I could guide them right”.
After a lot of effort on both parts, the students took the exams and were fairly happy with their performance. But when the results came out, nobody had expected what actually happened. Out of a total of 40 students that took the science exam, over half the class scored A grades, 10 students scored B grades and only a handful scored lesser than that.
This was by far the best result amongst all other subjects, and the best science result ever in Roshni School; in fact it was the best in all the schools in a 10 km radius.