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Each Pakistan

EACH Photo

Education becomes the property of the people in Pakistan as community based schools begin to show results.

Education becomes the property of the people in Pakistan as community based schools begin to show results.

It’s a natural instinct for every parent to want to see the best for their offspring. Yet when every day is a fight to stay alive, the needs of the moment override those of the future and education takes a backseat.

Pakistan suffers from some of the worst education statistics in the world. Over half the population aged ten and above is unable to read or write; one in three children never finish primary school; barely one woman in three can sign her own name. The facts go on.

Poverty, culture and an extreme lack of investment govern the rules on which one’s life is written. In day to day society, education has little chance to create a level playing field when the fissures between rich and poor run deep and inequality between the sexes is expected as the norm.

The Importance of Community

EACH Photo

However for many communities, strength in numbers is winning new battles in the struggle to educate Pakistan’s youth.

At the grassroots level of people lives throughout the country, a growing number of organisations are reshaping the way education is taught by working through the community rather than against it.

Some months ago I received word from a small organisation in the city of Faisalabad, Pakistan called EACH, whose community based school is working hard to lift poverty amidst the urban slums of Pakistan’s third largest city.

According to the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), more than half of all children in Faisalabad district are out of school with many "employed in factories" and only a minor few completing a compulsory norm of five years education.

A population explosion combined with urban decay means that poverty is rife, especially among the city’s rapidly expanding slums, where tradition holds sway over the lives of its inhabitants and opportunities for women are few and far between.

The population explosion is a serious cause for concern and the alarming 2.6% growth rate cannot be supported by the city's infrastructure. This has caused the formation of countless slums where living conditions are often deplorable.
Coming Together

EACH Photo

Since 1995, EACH, which stands for Education Awareness and Community Health, has run a small school in the slum area of Masoodabad on the outskirts of Faisalabad in conjunction with the community.

The ‘Universal Muslim Nursery School’ currently caters to 89 students, of which 55 are girls. During the day, the small center doubles as classrooms for students between class one and five and as a vocational center for local women. Computer classes for girls are offered in the evening.

By involving the community in the running of the school, locals instantly have a stake in the school’s success and are responsible for its upkeep and future. The school becomes a product that the area is willing to invest in and a source of pride in which all can share.

Last year, 12 students graduated in Masoodabad; eight were Muslim and four were Christian. Working together means long standing issues that traditionally plague Pakistan’s education system can gradually be eroded and societies work together towards a common goal - their own advancement.

Dropouts from school instantly decline where parents see the value in an education system they’re finally a part of rather than estranged from. Girls receive an education where parents trust the school and the distance from home is not too far. Teachers show up to work, when their home is part of the community they’re helping to teach.

Empty Promises

EACH Photo

Education in Pakistan is often full of Government promises that never get kept. Schools that never get built, teachers who fail to show for work, an education budget that sits amongst the lowest in the world and all fighting a population that’s not slowing down.

Though the Government is certainly making progress in education, informal and community based schools still educate a sizeable proportion of Pakistan’s population, and provide a lifeline of hope to a better life that people never let go once offered.

During my travels through Pakistan, I saw countless communities seizing the opportunity education gave them with awe-inspiring gusto and undertaking societal changing tasks in the process.

A youth group at a school in Gujranwala using drama to convince nearby villages to send their girls to school. The continued agitation shown by people of the country’s mountainous north to have a new school built by the government.

I’ve seen the hope and light in people’s eyes at a newly opened gypsy school in Lahore and the pride of others amongst the slums of Pakistan’s capital.

For these people and millions of others like them, education is the green light to taking control of their own lives and securing a future for their sons and daughters. It’s the means to breaking the poverty cycle and realising dreams only night time once brought.

However, the path ahead is often rocky and many schools including EACH cannot survive on the goodwill of the community forever and many tread a tenuous lifeline from one month to the next.

Rocky Path

EACH Photo

The current school building in which EACH now survives is falling apart and is no longer able to teach the students it was built to serve. Classrooms lack doors, benches are falling apart and no classroom has fans.

Summers in this part of Pakistan often reach up to 50°C and students have to sit outside in the shade of a tree to achieve some comfort. Most pay around $1.5 USD a month to attend the school, but with most families hovering around the national poverty line, funds are already stretched to the limit and even community support can only extend so far.

Although EACH has a plot of land nearby, they lack the funds with which to build a new school and are thus unable to offer the facilities we take for granted such as clean drinking water, toilets, functional classrooms and a playground.

With funding for a new school building, EACH will be able to offer vocational courses for local women to set up their own enterprises and see the area build up a stable society on which future generations can build on.

If you’d like to help EACH expand their good work and give joy to the lives of hundreds of children in one of Pakistan’s poorest areas, all details for donating can be found on their website

Education is a privilege and not a right in Pakistan. Organisations like EACH are important to making that difference.

This area would be a developed area for the next generation by providing them good education
Fouzia Tanvir, EACH Pakistan

Based in Faisalabad, EACH stands for Education Awareness and Community Health and has been operating in the area since 1995. Their school in Faisalabad is located in located in the slum area of Masoodabad where the average literacy rate rarely exceeds 2-3%. The ‘Universal Muslim Nursery School’ took on 89 students in 2007 of which 55 were girls and 39 boys in classes from one to five. Of the 12 students who graduated last year, eight were Muslim and four were Christian and all now attend a nearby Government high school.

Aside from teaching activities, the school also acts as a vocational centre for local women to learn sewing during the day as well as hosting computer classes for girls at night. According to EACH, females rarely receive training from big institutions in Pakistan and the dropout rate from school is much higher than for boys. EACH is now looking to build a new school building to offer every child in Masoodabad a solid education as well as develop a measure of independence for women in the area.


Fouzia Tahir
Projects officer
EACH (Education Awareness and Community Health)
Main Bazar Masoodabad
Near sultan Chowk
P.O.Box 359 GPO Faisalabad

TEL: +92 412404866
FAX: +92 402404866

Suggested Reading:
EACH Pakistan Website
The Faisalabad Experiment (DFID)
Literacy Statistics in Faisalabad
UNICEF Statistics for Pakistan
Education in Pakistan: The Inside Story
Education in Pakistan: Punjabi Reforms