Recently, Program Director Bashir visited the Early Childhood Development students in Hunza. He observed that their teachers had created conducive learning environments in their classroom and that the students were enjoying learning in a new classroom.
Iqra Fund believes that Early Childhood Development is crucial to establishing strong roots in a child’s education. By attending school from an early age, younger students are more likely to be interested in education and remain longer in school.
One group Bashir met with were learning the Welcome Song. We welcome you to watch these Early Childhood Development students sing about the animals and people they live among.
When asked why girls’ education was important to her, Naila responded by quoting Brigham Young: “‘You educate a man; you educate a man. You educated a woman; you educate a generation.’ That’s why female education is very important to me – because women are strongly disadvantaged in the remote areas of Baltistan.”
An avid supporter of girls’ rights, Iqra Fund’s Social Mobilizer Naila wishes for a “better nation in Baltistan and all over Pakistan.” She wants to help women in her community become educated and lead better lives. However, she has found that living within such a male-dominated society has often hindered her in her work to advocate for girls’ education. She believes that offering people more awareness and sensitivity workshops would help build their trust in Iqra Fund. She says, “Education is not only about doing jobs and making money. Education is about living a well-mannered life without harming others.”
Naila has earned both a Bachelor of Science degree from Karachi and a Bachelor of Education from Allama Iqbal Open University. She is now studying for her Masters in Gender and Women’s Studies. After completing her BSc, she moved to her hometown, Skardu, to intern at the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, a non-profit organization established to improve the quality of life in villages in the Gilgit-Baltistan province. Naila worked as an intern for AKRSP for a month and then continued to work for the organization on two projects: SEED (Socio-Economic & Environmental Development) and LEP (Livelihood Enhancement & Protection).
After working in AKRSP, Naila heard about Iqra Fund in 2014 and has been working with the program for a year. Passionate and eager to work in women’s development, she has formed women’s organizations in the past in many other areas of Pakistan. Her work there consisted of transferring assets for business to vulnerable poor households and organizing health and hygiene workshops and awareness sessions. Although she says she performed those tasks with “zeal and zest”, she never felt fully satisfied because of the lack of long term benefits her organizations offered. She joined Iqra Fund because she admired its focus on education and “the long term benefit and development for the females of remote areas.”
Naila’s responsibilities at Iqra Fund include updating the programs and finances, helping other staff in their own programs as needed, forming and sustaining the Mother Support Groups, assisting field staff, and facilitating all activities such as training seminars and workshops. Additionally, she also maintains relationships with partner organizations, Local Support Organizations, and key stakeholders in Iqra Fund. Naila finds Fatima Imran to be an inspirational young woman who has displayed courage in difficult times and has displayed support through encouraging younger generations and her siblings to receive an education.
Parents are considered one of the most important stakeholders of their children’s schools. There are several benefits of parental involvement in schools which include higher students’ achievements, better attendance, and positive behavior. Keeping in mind the importance of parental involvement in schools, Iqra Fund has formed Village Education Committees (VECs) to represent parents in schools. VECs are considered the formal link between school and parents in the school. Therefore, Iqra Fund has set aside significant space for parental involvement in its community education support program. To enhance the capacities of the parents, Iqra Fund organizes many short and long courses on need basis to enhance the capacities of the VECs.
In April and May 2015, Iqra Fund organized a one day training course for each VEC and their project schools. The main purpose of this training course was to create awareness about parental roles and responsibilities so that parents could performance their services in a better way. This training course also aimed to create awareness among the parents about their roles in their children’s education through VECs. More than 70 VEC members attended these training courses from Basha, Basho, and Hushe Iqra Fund schools.
The training course came to an end successfully, and all the objectives were achieved. The course participants considerably changed their understanding about the roles and responsibilities of VECs. One of the participants commented that before this session, he believed that VECs did not have any major role in school development; however, after attending this course, he learned that VECs are a main pillar of the school. The course participants reflected that parental awareness is very important for child education and that once parents are aware about the importance of education, then half the battle is won.
By: Bashir, Program Director Bashir is a faculty member at Aga Khan University Professional Development Center North (APU-PDCN) and has taught and trained teachers across Pakistan. He envisions all men and women are educated in society.
The Iqra Fund community is full of active students, parents, and teachers – all of whom are committed to education. Watch third grader Belqis talk about her dreams to her father. Learn why a Basha Union Council Member considers Village Education Committees an integral part of the community. Listen to five primary school students sing about important hygiene habits. View all Iqra Fund videos on our Vimeo site.
Belqis Interview with Ali Khan from Iqra Fund on Vimeo.
Belqis was one of Iqra Fund’s first students in Hushe Valley. Today, she is in third grade and dreams of becoming a lady doctor (OB-GYN). Belqis is interviewed by Ali Khan, her father and one of Iqra Fund’s Field Officers. Ali Khan works with Iqra Fund to make sure that all girls and boys, including his daughter, are able to access education.
Basha Union Council Member Talks about Iqra Fund from Iqra Fund on Vimeo. The General Secretary of the Union Council of Basha talks about the impact that Iqra Fund has made in Gilgit-Baltistan. The General Secretary is also a member of the Village Education Committee (VEC), which works closely with community members and leaders to collaborate on projects for their local education programs. Through trainings and support from Iqra Fund, VECs are also responsible for keeping teachers and students accountable.
Iqra Fund Students Sing Hygiene Song from Iqra Fund on Vimeo. These primary school students of the Masherbrum Public School in Hushe Valley sing about hygienic practices and sharing them with their family members. These students are not only among the first generation of children to go to school, but also will create a ripple effect of knowledge shared with their family members and friends.
I am Ms. Parveen. I was born in Ghulkin and got married in Passu. I completed my early education in Middle School – Ghulkin and passed my matriculation exams from Al Amyn Model School Gulmit. At the time, I was interested in becoming a doctor, because I was so attracted to the medical profession. When I started my time in college, my classes were in the evening, and I was free in the morning time. I joined my old school, Middle School – Ghulkin, as a teacher at the request of their head master. I started to get a little interested in teaching and saw my career as a good teacher. Now, teaching the students and spending time with them was what I enjoyed the most. There was a bond with the students that I loved.
When I passed my intermediate levels, I had to move to a different area for further studies, and I took admission at graduate level. I missed my students every day and waited to complete my studies to go back to my students and teach them again. After handing in my annual papers, I came back to my village and returned to Ghulkin again. After I got the annual results and passed my exams, I got engaged.
I got a request to be a teacher for a school in Shimshal, a village situated far away from my home village of Ghulkin. I was always ready to accept challenges and learn new things; therefore, I accepted the offer and moved to Shimshal for one year. My experience there was one of the most challenging and learning: dealing with the new students and teaching in a new school was so exciting!
When I finished my year of teaching, I got married to Passu. I started teaching at Middle School – Passu and volunteered often. When Iqra Fund announced vacancies for ECD teachers, I took the test interview and was selected. I was so happy about this new position, because I loved teaching little children. At the beginning, it was tough, and I faced many difficulties in teaching. This was my first ever experience in working with the little kids.
Then, Iqra Fund provided us a helpful training session on ECD at which I learnt a lot of new things in teaching. I knew how to behave and teach the students of ECD level. I am so much dedicated to my profession now, and I dream to be an ECD trainer in future. I am thankful to Iqra Fund for giving me direction and help me dream for my future. I am hopeful for the future that it will provide us such fruitful trainings so that we could learn more advanced teaching methodologies in ECD.