KARACHI: Upon entering the vicinity, the sight of the hauntingly eerie building evokes melancholy. Its floors are shrouded with layers of dust, cracked walls are covered with cobwebs, and the first two floors remain isolated.
It possesses bare minimum facilities yet it is a school accommodating more than 350 students. Pakistan Railway School Karachi, situated in Railway colony near Kalapul, was established in 1963 and spreads over eight acres.
The site has been rendered ideal by the Insaf Community Welfare Society (ICWS), a registered charity wing of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and The Citizens Foundation (TCF) to renovate and provide good quality education to the children of the area. The idea was finalised after a meeting with the railways minister, Saad Rafique, on August 1.
"TCF is committed to providing good quality education to underprivileged children and this is a step forward to promote the cause," said TCF official Isfandyar Inayat. Partnership with a political party will allow us to become more efficient and effective in our approach, he added.
"In this agreement not only PTI, but the railway ministry is also involved even though it falls under the cap of another political party," he said. "But all three of us have come under the same roof to benefit the citizens."
Read: Unsafe to inhabit: Karachi’s crumbling buildings
TCF is working towards a public-private partnership, and will continue to work with PTI if they exhibit the same zeal and commitment towards improving the condition of other government schools, he pointed out. "We plan to initiate joint ventures with provincial governments to reform the government schools all over Pakistan," he added
PTI MNA Arif Alvi told The Express Tribune that, as a political party, PTI is committed to serve the nation. "After some restoration work, we will begin classes in the school so that we can provide a quality education to the unprivileged children of the area," he said.
Sharing details of the Railway School Kalapul project, Alvi said that he and other MPAs of his constituency have approached Saad Rafique asked his cooperation to help with the renovation of the building.
"Due to lack of funds, the ministry had approached private groups to set up marriage halls, "said Rafique. "One private school which is located across the street wanted to lease more land to park their cars." It was then that the ICWS team decided to bear the burden of the renovation itself, he added.
Alvi said that through the project ICWS aims to improve the education sector in the constituency and for this purpose more pilot projects will also be launched.
According to the agreement, the ICWS will cater to improve the school's maintenance while TCF will plan out the curriculum to improve the quality of education. The fees for the children of Pakistan Railway employees will remain the same as before, Rs60, while the rest of the children will be charged Rs350 a month.
ICWS aims to transform this school into a college in the future, said the ICWS spokesperson. "ICWS is also thinking of starting vocational training courses at the school building during evenings that can help the citizens earn a respectable amount[of money]."
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2015.
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