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AsiaCharity

Promoting Quality Education for Orphans in Pakistan

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AsiaCharity

Promoting Quality Education for Orphans in Pakistan

A few children spoke about the importance of education, reminding us that without a good education, it is difficult to get a good job, support your family, and make a difference in the world. We heard Urdu poetry, talked about making friends, and reading books. 

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A few children spoke about the importance of education, reminding us that without a good education, it is difficult to get a good job, support your family, and make a difference in the world. We heard Urdu poetry, talked about making friends, and reading books. 

Quality education shouldn’t be limited to a privileged few, but should be accessible to everyone.

Penny Appeal is working closing with the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division of the government of Pakistan for the standardisation and regulation of orphanages in Pakistan. Penny Appeal is one of the members of the Core Committee for developing and improving standards for orphanages in Pakistan. 

According to a recent UNICEF report, there are over 4.2 million orphans in Pakistan. With the loss of one or both parents, a child’s future can seem uncertain, and at times, unsafe. In Pakistan, communities and extended families will rally around where possible to care for the child. However, we know that as the child grows up and financial burdens increase, communities become less able to provide the child with everything they need. This includes a quality education.

Currently, Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending school, which is 44 per cent of the total population in this age group. 11.4 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 14 are not receiving formal education as well. 

At Penny Appeal, we have made a commitment to support orphans with their education as part of our Orphan Kind programme, so that the orphans we care for do not fall into the devastating statistics mentioned above.

Through OrphanKind, we provide hundreds of orphan children with a loving, warm and safe home, equipped with modern furnishings, food, clothing and access to good healthcare. Furthermore, we ensure they are attending the best schools in the area. We also provide support to some orphan children who are living with their extended families, and ensure that they too are receiving education of an excellent standard.

On my most recent visit to Pakistan, I visited some of the schools where our orphan children are studying and met with a number of them to find out what education really means to them.

One of the biggest concerns I had before my visit was the subconscious, or even conscious, othering that can occur around orphans. There can be a stigma associated with being an orphan or receiving financial assistance from a charity. However, I was pleased to learn that these schools are attended by both orphans and children from the local community, and interaction between both groups of society is completely free, natural and uninhibited. At no point throughout their learning experiences are orphans singled out or made to feel different or unworthy. Instead, all children are treated the same. The examination results show that most orphan children are performing in the best 20 students in each year group, and teachers commented on their energy, happiness and charisma. 

I held some focus groups with the children we are supporting to learn about their ambitions and how they were benefiting from our programme. It was incredibly insightful and full of wisdom, wit and joy from the children. A few children spoke about the importance of education, reminding us that without a good education, it is difficult to get a good job, support your family, and make a difference in the world. We heard Urdu poetry, talked about making friends, and reading books.

I also met with some children studying at the schools, who are living at our Orphan Homes – Mera Apna Ghar, literally meaning “My Own Home”. I had visited their home over a year ago and was pleasantly surprised to realise that these children remembered having met me and were excited to see I had returned. When we began the focus group, I asked each child to introduce themselves and then moved onto wider discussions about school and education. One of the girls spoke up and giggled and told me I hadn’t introduced myself and asked me to do so. It was great to see the children so comfortable and confident, with a solid belief in their right to participation and freedom of speech. 

At our Orphan Homes, we placed Suggestion Boxes, so children are able to make requests or suggestions for change that are very seriously taken into account and acted upon. In our session at the school, teachers asked students if they had any suggestions or requests, and children asked about placing a suggestion box at the school too. It was heartening to see the faith these children have in our systems to bring about positive change for them. The school principle wholeheartedly agreed on introducing a suggestion box, and ensured all suggestions would be implemented.

There are some serious governance challenges around child policies in Pakistan, raising some concerns about the protection and safety of children. However, with my work in Pakistan over the last decade, I have seen some great work and progression being done in this area, including the commitments and efforts made by Penny Appeal. Penny Appeal is committed to the safeguarding and protection of all children. While working with orphans, we also work with qualified psychologists to provide guidance to children regarding safety and protection, and have seen and understood the great importance of this.  

The work we are doing at Penny Appeal is all about sowing seeds for future change and progression. Our work is a catalyst of change and provides an example to governments and institutions worldwide. There is still so much left to do, and we are committed to ensuring that no child endures hardship.

Thousands of orphans in the Pakistan are desperate for support. You can take away their misery by providing shelter, food, medical access, and education. Sponsor a child for just 50p a day by clicking here

To learn more about Penny Appeal and how to give to charity, click here.

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