For the sake of education, students and teachers protest against closure of their schools

This Sindh Education Foundation project launched in 2009 was shut down unexpectedly.

Our Correspondent March 12, 2013
The Sindh Education Foundation’s Integrated Education Learning Programme (IELP), which was launched in 2009, gave entrepreneurs money for each child studying in their schools in the city’s slums. But the pilot project was abruptly closed last September, infuriating teachers and students. PHOTO CREDIT: IELP


Hundreds of students studying in Sindh Education Foundation’s (SEF) Integrated Learning Education Programme (IELP) gathered at Karachi Press Club along with their teachers on Tuesday to condemn the closure of their schools.

The programme, which was launched in 2009, assisted budding entrepreneurs wishing to open schools in slum areas by giving them Rs250 to Rs300 per month for every child, between the ages of 5 and 18, studying in their institutes. The entrepreneurs, who were initially hired on a 16-month-long contract, were assured that their contracts will be renewed if their schools were successful. IELP looks after a network of 1,300 schools educating 150,000 students and employing 3,500 teachers spread throughout the province. In September 2012, the teachers were informed that the pilot project had to be closed. A closing ceremony was held and the entrepreneurs, who had leased the land, constructed washrooms for their schools and gone door-to-door to create awareness about the importance of education, were let go after being paid till September 2012.

“We have not received salaries for the past six months,” said Rehan Siddiqui, one of the teachers attending the protest. “The future of our students has become uncertain at a point when we were expecting to reap the fruits of the hard work we put into this project.”

IELP board of governors held a meeting in August, 2012, in which it was decided that the schools will be regularised and registered under the Sindh Education Department with Sindhi language being made compulsory in all the schools. Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah had presided over the meeting and Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq was also present. The process of regularisation has yet to be completed even though a summary was sent to the chief minister last month reminding him to do so.  “What will we do if the government, which is about to go, doesn’t release the funds on time,” questioned Siddiqui.

SEF Director Aziz Kabani told The Express Tribune that IELP was one of the largest schemes in education launched by the organisation. “The foundation, however, is dependent on government funds to continue its operations,” he said. “Education Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho sent a request to the chief minister to release the funding to these schools. We hope the funds will be released by March. It will be a great loss to nation if these schools were closed.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2013.


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