Institute of Business Administration’s (IBA) teachers and students have come up with a model to transform lives through education; a model so successful that it has prompted education minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro to ask the institute to implement it in public schools.
The announcement came on July 19, and Khuhro wants them to ‘re-enact the transformation’.
Over the summer, these volunteers worked tirelessly with the students from the Abdullah Shah Ghazi Government School as well as with the students from The Citizens Foundation (TCF) campuses in Garden and Qayyumabad through an independently-founded organisation called the Academic Achievement Plus (AAP).
“Our objective is to help students from underprivileged backgrounds in getting admissions into top universities and colleges by improving the quality of the education that they receive, focusing on their command in verbal and written English,” IBA volunteer Rida Asim Zaidi said.
The remarkable improvement in the students was evident at the ‘AAP Summer Camp 2014’ showcase ceremony that was held at the auditorium of the IBA city campus on Saturday, where the students demonstrated what they learnt during the camp.
Those who had difficulty in speaking a word of English before were now doing so with confidence and fluency during their engaging skits, speeches, musical plays, presentations and songs. The students even took part in a spelling bee and when Sara Ghulam Rasool, an eighth-grade student from the TCF Qayyumabad campus, won the competition, an overwhelmed Khuhro awarded her with Rs5,000 in cash.
“I think that this spectacular show should have been witnessed by many more than those who are present here today,” said Khuhro. “I appreciate the efforts of these IBA volunteers and the TCF, who took it upon themselves to make a change and help the children perform better in the competitive world.”
It was, however, unbecoming of the education minister to cite the skills and aptitude attained by the students through the efforts of the volunteers as proof to discredit the findings of the Annual Status of Education Report 2013 that revealed that around 75 per cent of fifth-grade students in Sindh cannot even read a sentence in English, and barely 29 per cent of them know how to solve a simple two-digit arithmetic division problem.
The initiative is not very different from the Teach for Pakistan’s model; a nationwide movement of recent graduates who commit to a two-year contract to teach the underprivileged at public and private charity schools.
Arif Irfanullah, who teaches finance at the IBA and is one of the trustees of AAP, explained that for grades six to eight, the organisation conducts rigorous after-school classes in maths and English, while the curriculum is expanded to include science subjects for grade nine and beyond.
“Our efforts can transform these students into agents of change within their communities as they will be able to climb up the social ladder through improved education,” said Irfanullah. He added that most of the volunteers joined through the IBA’s social internship programme, which is a six to eight week mandatory community service required for graduation. “Initially, many students take part merely to fulfil a requirement in their degree,” said Irfanullah. “However, once they get involved and achieve the satisfaction that comes with changing lives, they often decide to continue their work.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2014.