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RAWA Schools in Pakistan,notes and recommendations: Jan 2002

Running schools

Afghani teachers are paid far less than Pakistani teachers (average 1 200 rs, a month, $20, a quarter of a Pakistani salary), but that’s all RAWA can afford in their global budgets which are being stretched at the moment by the latest crisis. School directors are paid a bit more ( 1 500rs a month, $25) and all have to supplement their income by other work. Whenever possible, they are also paid in kind (especially food)- which is why FemAid has been trying to collect more important sums to finance these teachers. A cleaner, a guard is also on the payroll. In Afghanistan, the teachers are paid more as board, lodging and risk factor have to be taken into account.

The premises are rented from Pakistani authorities and are all too small classes are also held on terraces when necessary which poses a problem during the monsoon. Sometimes an old school is hired (Hewat II), often an apartment (Mariam), where the rent is on average 10 000- 12 000rs per month, and the electricity + bills work out to on average 6000rs, per month but naturally all this is variable.Books and stationery/pencils come to about 60 000rs a year.. One has to remember that books are cheaper in Pakistan and there is a whole industry of photocopied books.
As far as facilities are concerned, toilets (one per establishment) are dank ‘holes in the ground’ with a pitcher of water nearby, there are no other facilities, no first-aid kits, no snacks available, just rudimentary schooling.

Needs

FemAid’s policy has always been to ask people what they need and want rather than impose and send what we think they should have.
After lengthy conversations, we came to the conclusion that money is needed to finance:
- more books and stationery (children are issued one set to last them all year)
- teaching aids: maps, posters, visual documentation, flash cards (with English , Urdu or Farsi)
- T.V. + VCR for educational films
- Snacks for the break ( a new FemAid project as this is unheard of in other schools: children who walk along way may wait for 4 hours while their siblings have school in the second shift)
- A computer facility
- New courses (music)
- Refurbishing of premises
- Salaries of staff
- Teacher-training (including language courses)

One could send teaching materials such as maps, anatomical charts, and other such material. In which case, one should try and find a humanitarian organisation sending material or else find out through P.I.A. (Pakistani International Airlines) if something can be sent to Islamabad by air freight and at what cost. In Islamabad, I was told the charge was 11 Euros per kilo
Another important feature would be financing badly needed teacher training
Additional courses such as music would be welcome with the idea of having children in schools form a choir. Upon enquiry, it seems that music teachers want to be paid 4000rs a month , $67 which is beyond anything RAWA can afford. But this can be a project for a donor.
I was surprised at the directors asking computers: it seems that the conditions are so squalid that there must be other priorities. Nevertheless, as computers mean modernity to them, this has a strong symbolic value- and presumably some practical one as well. But programmes have to be sent with the computers and in working order.
However in one school I saw unused toys carefully displayed on an otherwise empty shelf, probably given by a well-meaning donor: this culture has no need for Western-style toys and consumership.
These countries do not have a tradition of having a visiting doctor/nurse but could be something we could think about

Conclusion

RAWA does not run a vast amount of schools and orphanages but is trying to be efficient in each situation. FemAid has decided to sponsor specific needs such as paying salaries to keep these places going and enable RAWA to open further schools. Donors who get involved in our schemes can donate very specifically and know that their gifts and donations will really be used.

Three schools visited in Rawalpindi (near Islamabad)

Hewat II

Mrs Okala principal + 15 teachers (female)+cleaner and guard
350 children aged 6-19 (boys generally up to age of 12, the older students being the girls who often start their schooling as young teenagers, on RAWA’s insistence)
Provides primary education: children of different ages in a same class because most of the girls go to school later than boys and are generally keep back.
4 hours of schooling a day (and an average of 6-8 hours outside work for most) in two shifts
Also a literacy class for women of 14-29
No heater- it gets cold in winter and a diminutive fan for summer (temperature soaring to 40-50°C in the summer); lighting is a neon strip which often goes on and off due to uncertain electrical supplies
7 small, dank classrooms, ill-lit with nothing (or nearly) on the walls. Geography is taught from a tiny world map


Mariam school

Mrs Rahimi (principal) and 12 teachers )+cleaner and guard
200 children 6-17 (boys generally up to age of 12, the older students being the girls who often start their schooling as young teenagers, on RAWA’s insistence)
Provides primary education: children of different ages in a same class because most of the girls go to school later than boys and are generally keep back.There are no girls studying maths past the 7th class
4 hours of schooling a day (and an average of 6-8 hours outside work for most) in two shifts
No heater- it gets cold in winter and a diminutive fan for summer (temperature soaring to 40-50°C in the summer); lighting is a neon strip which often goes on and off due to uncertain electrical supplies
This is a ground floor apartment with cubicles, some do not have windows. But it has just been painted a bright yellow.
The daughter of the director, Rubina, 17 graduated from a Pakistani school last year and teaches English basics in this school as well as Hewat II. She needs teaching aids of every kind (flash cards, charts, to help her work)


Hewat I

Mrs Abida, (principal) 8 teachers+cleaner and guard
130 children 6-15 (boys generally up to age of 12, the older students being the girls who often start their schooling as young teenagers, on RAWA’s insistence)
One literacy course for women between 15-35
Provides primary education: from 1-3rd class, but age groups here are a bit more coherent than in other schools
4 hours of schooling a day (and an average of 6-8 hours outside work for most) in two shifts.
Premises are too small: one class in held outdoors on the terrace- presumably cancelled during the monsoon.
No heater- it gets cold in winter and a diminutive fan for summer (temperature soaring to 40-50°C in the summer); lighting is a neon strip which often goes on and off due to uncertain electrical supplies.
Despite the extreme poverty of this squalid neighbourhood (open sewers, rubbish tips where kids rummage), a number of the children come from families where parents had some education as civil servants, teachers and engineers. The director’s story is typical. Ages 31, she was a teacher in Afghanistan and teaches Pashtun, history and maths. Her husband, once a radio journalist and teacher now sells vegetables from a vegetable cart, helped by his sons. They have 7 children and Mrs Abida is distressed that she can’t let their oldest daughter go to school as she has to look after the youngest children whilst their mother is away at work.

for any other information,contact me directly at

cmann@femaid.org

All correspondance and in-kind gifts should be mailed direct to RAWA,not FemAid.

View a slideshow on RAWA/FemAid Educational Projects