PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

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Inspirational Story of University-Going Daughters of Karachi's Rickshaw Driver

Three daughters of a Karachi rickshaw driver named Amjad Ali are attending top universities in Pakistan. All three graduated from The Citizens Foundation's K-12 schools located across Pakistan, including poor districts of Pakistan's megacity of nearly 20 million residents. Amina Amjad, the eldest is studying at Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) to become a medical doctor, the second daughter is enrolled in Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZBIST) to become an engineer and the third Muskan Amjad is going to the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi's top business school on a full scholarship.

Girls' Education: 

Muskan Amjad

This would be unusual for a poor man's children attending top universities regardless of gender. What makes it particularly noteworthy is that these are daughters of a poor man in a country where girls' education is often ignored.  “People often mocked and criticized me, saying that girls are bound to get married and move out and to stop wasting my hard-earned money on my daughters,” Amjad Ali told hosts of Samaa TV, a private television channel in Pakistan.  The Citizens Foundation (TCF) making it possible by making K-12 education accessible and affordable for Pakistan's disadvantaged children.  There are many success stories of TCF alumni posted on TCF's Facebook page.

Back in 2013, another TCF alumna Anum Fatima, a resident of Ibrahim Goth slum located near Karachi's Steel Town, made history; she went to Harvard Business School as part of a student exchange program. Anum's father is employed as a driver and her mother works as a maid. The slum school she attended is run by The Citizen's Foundation (TCF), a private foundation.

Karachi Rickshaw Driver Amjad Ali and Family 

The Citizens Foundation: 

The Citizens Foundation (TCF) is a non-profit organization, and operates one of the largest privately owned networks of low-cost formal schools in Pakistan. The Foundation runs 1,567 school units, educating 252,000 students through 12,000 teachers and principals, with over 17,400 employees. It has very low overhead by Pakistani NGO's standards. Approximately 94% of the Foundation's expenditure is allocated to the Education program.

Pakistan Truck Art Message From A Girl: "Let me Study; Let me Advance"

TCF plays a very important role in the lives of its students during school and after they graduate. It runs an Alumni Development Program (ADP) where successful alumni inspire and mentor students and fellow TCF alumni.  Muskan Amjad volunteers for ADP.

If you read Pakistan media headlines and donation-seeking NGOs and activists' reports these days, you'd conclude that the social sector situation is entirely hopeless. However, if you look at children's education and health trend lines based on data from credible international sources, you would feel a sense of optimism. This exercise gives new meaning to what former US President Bill Clinton has said: Follow the trend lines, not the headlines. Unlike the alarming headlines, the trend lines in Pakistan show rising school enrollment rates and declining infant mortality rates.

Key Social Indicators:

The quickest way to assess Pakistan's social sector progress is to look at two key indicators:  School enrollment rates and infant mortality. These basic social indicators capture the state of schooling, nutrition and health care. Pakistan is continuing to make slow but steady progress on both of these indicators. Anything that can be done to accelerate the pace will help Pakistan move up to higher levels as proposed by Dr. Hans Rosling and adopted by the United Nations. 

Rising Primary Enrollment:

Gross enrollment in Pakistani primary schools exceeded 97% in 2016, up from 92% ten years ago. Gross enrollment rate (GER) is different from net enrollment rate (NER). The former refers to primary enrollment of all students of all ages while the latter counts enrolled students as percentage of students in the official primary age bracket. The primary NER in Pakistan is significantly lower but the higher GER indicates many of these kids eventually enroll in primary schools albeit at older ages. 

Source: World Bank Education Statistics

Declining Infant Mortality Rate: 

The infant mortality rate (IMR), defined as the number of deaths in children under 1 year of age per 1000 live births in the same year, is universally regarded as a highly sensitive (proxy) measure of population health.  A declining rate is an indication of improving health. IMR in Pakistan has declined from 86 in 1990-91 to 74 in 2012-13 and 62 in the latest survey in 2017-18.

Pakistan Child Mortality Rates. Source: PDHS 2017-18

During the 5 years immediately preceding the survey, the infant mortality rate (IMR) was 62 deaths per 1,000 live births. The child mortality rate was 13 deaths per 1,000 children surviving to age 12 months, while the overall under-5 mortality rate was 74 deaths per 1,000 live births. Eighty-four percent of all deaths among children under age 5 in Pakistan take place before a child’s first birthday, with 57% occurring during the first month of life (42 deaths per 1,000 live births).

Human Development Ranking:

It appears that improvements in education and health care indicators in Pakistan are slower than other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017. It is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018.

UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) represents human progress in one indicator that combines information on people’s health, education and income.

Pakistan's Human Development Growth Rate By Decades. Source: HDR 2018

Pakistan saw average annual HDI (Human Development Index) growth rate of 1.08% in 1990-2000, 1.57% in 2000-2010 and 0.95% in 2010-2017, according to Human Development Indices and Indicators 2018 Statistical Update.  The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018.

Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future:

Pakistani leaders should heed the recommendations of a recent report by the World Bank titled "Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future" regarding investments in the people. Here's a key excerpt of the World Bank report:

"Pakistan’s greatest asset is its people – a young population of 208 million. This large population can transform into a demographic dividend that drives economic growth. To achieve that, Pakistan must act fast and strategically to: i) manage population growth and improve maternal health, ii) improve early childhood development, focusing on nutrition and health, and iii) boost spending on education and skills for all, according to the report".


Summary: 

The story of Muskan Amjad shows that the state of Pakistan's social sector is not as dire as the headlines suggest. There's reason for optimism. Key indicators show that education and health care in Pakistan are improving but such improvements are slower than in other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017. It is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018. One of the biggest challenges facing the PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is to significantly accelerate human development rates in Pakistan.

Here's a video clip of Amjad Ali and his family's appearance on Samaa TV's Naya Din show:

https://youtu.be/7qXI93xdOn8

Related Links:

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Comment by Riaz Haq on June 24, 2019 at 1:53pm

Dubai-based ‘Coded Minds’ launching its Pakistan operations

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/487837-dubai-based-coded-minds-la...

Karachi: A Dubai-based global education company, Coded Minds, that offers iSTEAM (Innovation, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) subjects, is launching its Pakistan operations by organizing its first-ever summer camp in Karachi.

With a vision to bring good quality advanced technology education at the grassroots level, Coded Minds’s first Summer Camp in Karachi is being offered at an affordable cost.


“We are very excited that we will be able to serve the education sector in Pakistan,” says Omar Farooqui, founder, and president of Coded Minds. Since its launch, in 2017 the company has grown rapidly in the Middle East and Asia.

“We are now officially registered in Pakistan and we aim to provide the best education to the young generation of the country so that they can play a crucial role not just for Pakistan but also at the global level,” Farooqui said.

“There is a major misconception that technology education is expensive. It is completely the other way round. The price point of our first ever summer camp actually reflects the same. We believe quality education has not just to be affordable but also reachable to the grass root level.”

Farooqui, who has had meetings with President of Pakistan Dr Alvi and the Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood in February 2019, says that Pakistani talent can rule the world if they are provided with the right skills and education.

The five-day Summer Camp will continue from June 24-28 in the North Nazimabad area.

The courses offered are Introduction to Programming, Scratch Jr., App Development.

Children between the ages of 4-13 will be able to attend this course.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 24, 2019 at 7:47pm

Enough funds allocated for education sector in KP budget: minister

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/489322-enough-funds-allocated-for-...

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Finance Taimoor Salim Jhagra on Monday informed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly that the government had allocated enough funds for the education sector in the budget.

He was responding to a point of order raised by Opposition Leader Akram Khan Durrani about cut in education budget. The minister also said that efforts were being made to improve the quality of education. Taimoor Jhagra added the provincial government had spent huge amount on providing facilities to the government schools across the province.

The minister said the government had planned to abolish 23 training centres for teachers in the province as these were not functioning properly in the past. He said the government had allocated extra budget for the training as qualified and well-trained teachers could impart quality education to students.

The minister informed the House that recruitment would be made in education, health and other departments through fair and transparent process. He said the government was not politicising the creation of jobs and posting and transfer in government departments.

Earlier, Opposition Leader Akram Khan Durrani said that he had learnt from officials concerned that the government had planned to close down 23 training centres for teachers He said the move would deprive the teacher community of training to improve their teaching skills.

The legislator also quoted a media report in the House that the government would not fill about 84,000 vacant posts in various government departments for next three years. "On the one hand the PTI leaders are claiming that the government will provide 10 million jobs to the youth but on the other it is not filling out the vacant posts," he said, adding that extension in retirement age of the government servants would cut new jobs.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 1, 2019 at 5:14pm

Riaz Haq has left a new comment on your post "Is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress Hopeless?": 

#Pakistan's #EdTech #startup "Dot and Line" raises six-figure seed for its #tech-based network of female tutors. https://www.menabytes.com/dot-and-line-seed/ via @MENAbytes

Karachi-based edtech startup ‘Dot and Line’ has raised six-figure (US Dollar) seed funding from Pakistan’s leading VC Sarmayacar, the investor announced yesterday without disclosing the exact size of deal. The round was also joined by Silicon Valley-based private investor and technology industry veteran Hasan Rizvi, former Executive Vice President of Oracle in California.

Founded in 2015 by two LSE (London School of Economics) alums; Maheen Adamjee and Lina Ahmed, Dot and Line is a tech-based network of female Math tutors who deliver an after-school mathematics program built (for Dot and Line) by subject specialists including PhDs from leading universities and top schools, to children in grades 2 to 7.

Dot and Line helps the tutors or Teaching Partners (as they like to call them) delivery the program through its blended learning product which includes paper-based worksheets and an app that the parents can use to track the progress of their child and receive assessment results. The program is delivered in small classes (at homes of tutors) which means that every child receives individualized attention. The classes also cover exam preparation and homework help.

The startup on its website claims that its learning process ensures that children develop a conceptual understanding in mathematics, through real-world application and hands-on activities and that’s one of the things that make Dot and Line centers different from the regular tuition centers, “Our after-school program enriches your child’s learning experience, helping them fall in love with math beyond what math tuition can do for them.”

Dot and Line also follows a rigorous selection process to select its Teacher Partners who then receive specialized training and certification before they could start delivering the program.

The startup currently has over 50 centers in three cities across Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore & Faisalabad, and claims to have helped hundreds of children achieve 40 percent improvement in their grades within 4 months of program.

For Teaching Partners, Dot and Line offers an opportunity to earn PKR 24,000 ($150) to PKR 72,000 ($450) every month by delivering the program without leaving their home. That’s pretty decent money considering the fact that Pakistani fresh graduates earn an average salary of PKR 26,000 per month and Dot and Line’s Teaching Partners don’t even have to be graduates. Even those who are currently pursuing a college degree could apply to become a Teaching Partner with them.

More importantly, the startup is creating opportunities for women in Pakistan many of whom, unfortunately (due to cultural and family constraints) still don’t pursue professional careers in spite of having education and skills to join country’s workforce. According to some estimates, Pakistan’s labor underutilization rate for women workers stands at 80 percent. Services like Dot and Line can help bring it down.

Dot and Line makes money by charging 20 to 40 percent commission on the revenue made by its Teacher Partners.

Started with Mathematics (only), Dot and Line is now preparing to launch an English program in August this year that will target 4 to 10-year-olds helping them improve their reading fluency, comprehension, writing and vocabulary.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 1, 2019 at 7:56pm

#EdTech in #Pakistan: Queno, WonderTree, Ilmversity, Sabaq, Line & Dot, UWR offering all-in-portal for schooling. #Education #Technology https://www.dawn.com/news/1488521

All of us have had the misfortune of showing up at the school on some holiday or strike (because of he who must not be named). If there was some better and faster mode of communication, we could have just enjoyed another fine morning in our beds. This is exactly the offering of a local edtech startup: helping schools be more efficient through tech.

Ilmversity is a school enterprise resource planning (ERP) software headquartered out of Lahore that hopes to be a one-stop-shop for educational institutions.

The portal offers pretty much everything relevant to the administrative and academic functions of a school: from attendance recording and fee management to course planning and academic progress tracking. And it’s not only meant to be for organisations. The platform is accessible to parents as well, who can check their kids’ attendance or view average class grades, among other things. It works on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model so you just have to go to the website/app, sign up, go to the dashboard and access the different modules available.

What about payments though? Currently they don’t have any channels integrated given their primarily B2B focus and therefore, all the compensations are made through online transfers at the moment.

Let’s look at their market structure first. In Pakistan, private institutions can be roughly classified into bungalow schools at one end and legacy schools and big brands on the other end. The former barely pay their staff and teachers the minimum wage and can’t be reasonably expected to have much demand for ERPs. On the other hand, the well-funded legacy schools pretty much operate the same way as they have done for the past century and have shown little appetite for innovation.

Meanwhile, the big school chains are usually quite resourceful and go for in-house software, rather than an external SaaS providers. So what is even left for our local startup then?

“We are primarily focused towards mid-tier schools catering to middle and upper middle class students, anywhere from Rs3,000 and beyond. Given the customisable number of modules, it makes the product more affordable for all slabs,” says Murtaza Mustafa.

“As for the city/country-wide school networks, we actually got one such institution (with an internal ERP) on board recently because their IT head left and the entire system was paralysed. A third-party provider like us, with customer support, frees them from the hassle and lets the school focus on its core operations,” says Manager Business Development Mustafa.

Ilmversity was launched in 2017 by three techies and a corporate executive — Jawad Ijaz, Saqib Zafar, Osama Bin Shakeel and Waqas Sohail. “We initially wanted to bring parents in the loop and give them more access to their child’s education and progress but later pivoted to more of a one-stop-shop school ERP solution when we realised the market gap,” CEO Jawad Ijaz recalls.

Their revenues primarily come from schools who have to pay upfront annual charges, priced between Rs18,000 and Rs100,000 depending on the number of modules. Plus, a pro version - with additional features such as counselling - is available for parents at a cost Rs1,000 a year.

And to this day, it is internally funded with the four founders having poured in some Rs25 million so far — quite a heavy investment for a bootstrapped startup. For how much longer can they keep bleeding? “We are still incurring losses, partly because much of the earnings are being reinvested as we want to scale quickly,” informs the CEO. In that case, wouldn’t it be just better to seek external financing? “We are exploring that option as well and are in talks with some venture capitals but the entire process is time-consuming,” he explains.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 1, 2019 at 8:02pm

EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN REQUIRES IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE FUTURE

https://borgenproject.org/tag/uwr/

United We Reach (UWR) is a nonprofit organization that works to expand educational opportunities for children in socioeconomically stressed areas. In Pakistan specifically, it uses advanced technologies to create and distribute fully scripted lesson plans to students.

It is currently working on a project that integrates local Pakistani experiences with world-class education via tablets. In this project, every teacher at a UWR school is given a tablet that includes an inbuilt Learning Enhancement, Analysis and Feedback (LEAF) system, which acts as a teaching assistant. These tablets assess the student’s progress and send individual reports to the teacher so they know exactly which students are struggling and in what areas.

Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

Global Partnership for Education is the only global organization that is entirely dedicated to improving education in developing countries. It works to align policy-making and future planning to strengthen education systems. GPE has been working in Pakistan alongside UNICEF and USAID for the last six years.

Since it was launched in 2012, national spending on education in Pakistan has increased from 2.14 percent of GDP to 2.6 percent. This has created more jobs as more schools begin to open. While education is its primary focus, it also focuses on using education to improve the following areas:

  • Personal experiences of children with disabilities
  • Countries affected by fragility and conflict
  • Development effectiveness in international communities
  • Early childhood care
  • Girls’ education and gender equality
  • Knowledge and good practice exchange
  • Out-of-school children

While external forces will continue to affect education, its quality and its delivery, organizations like these will continue to balance out the process by working toward improved education systems in Pakistan.

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