KARACHI: The cheerful school children got on stage and sang their hearts out in front of instructors, parents and cameras.
Education is important but extracurricular activities motivate and diversify children to find their hidden talent. With the same spirit, The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF) hosted the grand finale of their inter-school fundraising singing competition ‘Obhartay Sitaray 2015’, on Saturday at the Marriot hotel.
The TCF is one of the leading non-profit organisations in the field of formal education for the less privileged. It has as many as 165,000 students and about 1,065 schools in the country. This year, 65,000 students from 120 schools participated in the fundraising efforts, said TCF founding director Ateed Riaz.
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“We started TCF 20 years ago, but did not expect we would grow this much. We have organised this event especially for our children and they have proved that they are no less than any other children,” he added.
There was a turnout of 500 people at the event with around 88 children performing. “TCF emphasises on both education and upbringing. Children usually get tired of their studies and there should be something to divert their minds,” said senior TCF manager Syed Ahsan Raza. “We don’t want our children to compare themselves with any elite school [and find themselves lacking] because we have always tried to give them the best of everything,” he explained.
The students were sub-divided into primary, secondary, senior-level and college categories according to their ages. A total of 550 students in 250 teams participated in the school-level round, out of which 48 singers in 16 teams participated in the team’s final round, which was judged by Khalid Anam, Zoe Vicajji and other celebrity panelists. After long, tiresome days of learning, 88 children went through to the grand finale.
“My favorite singer is Shreya Goshal and I love music. I never got the opportunity to learn music but my friends say that I am a great singer that’s why I am here,” said Rabia Shad Malik of Beaconhouse School.
Another boy who sang ‘Ankhon kay sagar’ by Shafqat Amanat, said Sajjad Ali is his inspiration and one day, he wants to be like him.
“Every child is one in a billion and we have made sure that we keep their identities unique,” said TCF’s Biba Basir. “We have taken funds from students of different elite schools for our programme so that even they get a sense of how important education is and what a blessing they are giving by helping children who cannot afford to study. TCF’s motto is to educate every child without any creed, class and sect difference,” said Basir.
‘Obhartay Sitaray’ is the brainchild of the Supporters of The Citizens Foundation (STCF). At the event, TCF director and STCF chairperson Nilofer Saeed said TCF would stay focused on education as it was the way towards a better and more progressive Pakistan.
“Children should be given the right to choose music as their career, so we have made it a proper subject in our school. We hear melodious voices every day,” said Sohail Bahadur, a music teacher from Dawood Public School.
“We have raised the confidence level of underprivileged children by making them participate in an event in which children from elite schools also participated,” said TCF’s vice president Zia Akhtar. “We need to clear the misleading stereotypes of the ‘elite class’ and ‘low class’ for whom education is the only asset. We have been working for 20 years but there are still more than 25 million children who don’t go to school,” he said, adding that they have decided to organise a similar event in Lahore early next year.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2015.
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