KARACHI: As the chairman of National Foods Limited, Abdul Majeed was interested in the idea of providing his unschooled staff with basic primary education. He thought that if the staff was educated, it would have a positive impact on the quality of the company’s products.
Nearly seven years ago over a cup of tea, the director of The Citizens Foundation (TCF) Ateeq Riaz and Literate Pakistan Foundation (LPF) Chairman Rayed Afzal approached Majeed with a similar idea, a national adult literacy programme.
Over the years, this idea developed and took shape in the form of Aagahi.
On Tuesday, TCF and its partners organised an event to recognize the contribution of key individuals, the principals of TCF schools, who made Aagahi a success. Appreciation certificates were presented to around 100 school principals from Sindh and Balochistan.
When TCF approached Majeed with the idea, they were already running numerous schools in rural and unplanned areas to provide education to under privileged children. In 2005, they launched their pilot project which brought together TCF’s human resources, LPS’s teacher training and NFL’s sponsorship. They started off with five schools with 100 students.
“We were targeting the women from the families of the children who studied at the TCF schools,” said the foundation’s programme coordinator Amna Waheed Khalid. “The programme is organised every year for three months.” The LPF’s literacy project head Abdul Malik Khan told The Express Tribune that the programme was running successfully in 790 TCF schools in 35 districts across the country. .
So far, around 11,000 women have learnt to read newspapers, write letters, do basic calculations, fill in official forms and manage their routine jobs by keeping formal records. “The parents enrolled in Aagahi insist on learning about computers,” said Sofia Bano, a school principal. “They want to learn so they can teach their children about technology.”
According to Khalid, as the students grew older and got more educated they often felt as if a gap was developing between them and their families or neighbours. She said that the Aagahi programme was helping bridge the gap.
Shield Corporation Limited, International Textiles Limited and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have also announced that they will be a part of the Aaghai programme.
Edward Birgells, USAID’s provincial regional director, told The Express Tribune that he was satisfied with the knowledge that the USAID was able to contribute in something worthwhile.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2012.
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