Pakistan Project encourages literacy among girls
Parents and students gather at the Unity School for the annual parents day. The 10-year-old school has grown to accommodate 240 students. Photo by Lubna Javed
Rotarians in Punjab, Pakistan, and Delaware, USA, are working together to educate girls in a poor village in Pakistan.
The Pakistan Project, a collaboration between the Rotary clubs of Lahore Mozang and Wilmington, aims to build understanding and relationships between the two countries while promoting education and literacy among Pakistani girls.
Low income and local traditions have combined to create an imbalance in the enrollment of boys and girls in school throughout Pakistan. In the Punjab Province, only 20 percent of girls attend school.
The most recent initiative under the project involves supporting the Ghazali School, founded in 2001 by Lubna Javed, then president of the Lahore Mozang club. It has since been renamed the Unity School to mark the club’s partnership with the Wilmington club.
Located in a low-income area of Lahore, the Unity School fills with nearly 240 students each day -- 100 of whom are girls. The Lahore Mazong club subsidizes some of the cost, but the bulk of funding comes from tuition from students' families.
“The need for funding for the education of girls from impoverished and low-income families is significant,” says Almas Jovindah, past president of the Lahore Mozang club and chair of the Pakistani side of the project. “Education has always been a passion for our club.”
Money for scholarships
The Wilmington club began raising funds to provide scholarships in September. According to Kathleen Meyer, chair of the U.S. side of the project, one year’s tuition for a single student is US$150. The club’s goal was to provide a five-year scholarship to as many female students as possible.
After six months, the club had raised $23,000 to cover schooling costs for nearly 30 girls for five years. The club raised an additional $5,000 to add a girls’ sixth-grade class.
Twelve delegates from the Wilmington club recently completed a 10-day trip to Lahore to meet with members of the Lahore Mozang club and observe their work in promoting education and literacy across Pakistan. In addition to establishing the Unity School 10 years ago, the Lahore Mozang club has helped educate more than 3,000 people by arranging literacy centers throughout the city.
“My friends visiting from Wilmington came to see the school and were overwhelmed with emotions after meeting the students,” says Jovindah. “We are lucky and privileged, but we don’t always realize that until you can see the difference you’ve made, in person.”
Meyer says the club's next challenge will be raising funds to expand the school with four additional grades.
“Ten years ago, nobody knew about the school, and it started with one class and one teacher,” says Javed. “One visit from the Wilmington delegates not only had a remarkable effect on motivating more children to get enrolled in the school but also brought a fresh wave of understanding between the people of America and Pakistan.”
For more information
March is literacy month. Consider these resources to help promote basic education and literacy, one of six areas of focus in The Rotary Foundation's Future Vision Plan: