KARACHI: For the dozens of unfortunate children who sell tissue papers, pens and card holders at the main gate of the University of Karachi (KU), 12 students of the varsity have taken it as their responsibility to educate these children and send them to schools.
Sitting under a tree on a footpath outside KU’s Silver Jubilee gate, Faizan Raja and Muhammad Taha Bhutto, second-year students from the zoology department, planned to do something that is within their capacity for the street children. And so, Raja and Bhutto started to ask the children about their problems and began teaching them basic English, Mathematics and Urdu.
Bringing education to the streets of Karachi
“Two months ago, our Islamiat teacher gave us the idea to spend our spare time with these children and give them a basic education if we really wanted to do something for them,” Raja told The Express Tribune.
“When Taha and I first approached the children, we found our peer, Marvi Aqsa, sitting and bandaging one of the children who was injured,” shared Raja on how a three-member team was initially formed.
The team presently consists of twelve KU students from various departments. They have divided the timings to teach the children according to their class schedules. “There are students from morning and evening programmes,” said Bhutto, adding that students from the evening programme conduct classes with the children from 9am and students from the morning programme continue teaching till 4pm.
More than 35 street children have shown interest in studying and they keep themselves free during certain timings, said Raja, explaining that some children sell tissues, pens and card holders in the morning and come to study in evening, while others do the opposite.
“Our main focus is not just to teach them, but to raise their IQ level so they can join school and get some kind of formal education,” said Raja, adding that the team has been able to get on board some NGOs working in the field of education that will bear the school fees and other expenses.
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Right now, there is a need to teach them the basics of English, Math and Urdu along with manners and behavior skills, said Bhutto, adding that they groom them on how to talk, how to react to things and how to greet people. We aim to bring a positive change in their conduct, he said.
Najma, 16, and Arshad, 16, who can read Urdu, are the eldest children studying at the roadside school. “There was a baji just like them [KU volunteers] who used to teach us some years ago, but then she completed her studies and we were left alone.” shared Najma, while solving addition sums in her copy.
Three-year-old Gurya and Sahil, the youngest students of the lot, chase after the girls entering the university to sell them a pack of tissue paper that is worth Rs10. “They [the university girls] are all very nice and they will send us to school. I won’t need to sell these tissues then,” claimed Sahil, while playing with a pencil and holding a pack of tissue papers in his other hand.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2016.
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