Partnering with local communities is at the heart of Iqra Fund’s model of providing access to sustainable, quality education. Involving local communities in decisions that affect their lives is central to making development more effective, and has the potential to transform the role that people play in development by giving them voice and agency. Iqra Fund only works in communities where it has been formally invited, and the first thing we do in each community is form a Village Education Committee (VEC). VECs are comprised of parents and village leaders, who work with Iqra Fund to provide access to education for children in their village.
Working with communities to develop goals and strategies around access to education has proved to be immensely successful to our work – the communities we work see the value education and are more motivated than ever to make sure that each child in their village goes to school. This is particularly significant because the majority of these areas are home to the first generation of children to ever have access to education. It also means a major shift away from their long held tradition of marrying girls off at the early age of 15.
Knowing that communities are actively working with us to provide their children with access to education is a two-sided relationship. The communities we work with hold us accountable, making sure we deliver what we’ve promised; and we feel comfortable knowing that the work we are doing is 100% sustainable due to the strong community ownership.
Watch one VEC member in Basha Valley discuss his work with Iqra Fund:
This December, as the end of the year is upon us, many of us are taking stock of the past year; our actions, what we achieved, and asking ourselves, ‘did we make a difference?’. At Iqra Fund we are doing the same, which is why we remain more committed than ever to serve children in remote northern Pakistan by providing them with access to education.
With your help, we have provided access to quality education for over 2,400 children in some of the most remote regions of northern Pakistan, and there are thousands of children on our wait list who are eager to have the chance to go to school for the first time ever in the history of their communities. We need your help to provide these children with an education as well. One of our board members has generously donated $15,000 in support of girls education as a matching challenge. This amount sends 120 girls to school. We need your help to match this gift by December 15th and turn that 120 into 240 girls that we can send to school this coming year.
Your $30 gift for one student’s school supplies, will become $60 to support two students.
Your $125 gift will come $250, sending two girls to school for a whole year.
Your $500 gift will become $1,000, providing 8 girls with an education this year.
Your $2,000 gift will become $4,000, supporting an entire classroom of 32 students this year.
We hope you will help make this campaign successful by contributing in any amount by December 15th. If you have already given this year, we thank you for your continued support and hope you consider taking advantage of this opportunity to double your gift.
Your contributions will be matched dollar-for-dollar. Together, we can provide 240 more children on our wait list a chance to achieve their dreams through education.Visit our donate page.
“I really hope other girls benefit from Iqra Fund’s scholarship program the way I did,” says Batool Inayat of Basha Valley, “Iqra Fund gave me the courage to continue my education.”
Batool is a high school student taking pre-medical classes at the Degree College for Girls in Skardu. Her father, Inayat Ali, earns a limited income and supports a family of 5, making Batool’s academic expenses difficult to maintain.
Today Batool is excelling in high school, but she faced many challenges to get to where she is now. The first of these challenges came when she finished primary school and there was no secondary education in her village. She pleaded with her father, who reluctantly agreed to send her to school in the nearest city, Skardu, but only on the condition that she take her younger brother and sister along. After she and her siblings had left, her family faced disapproval and criticism from their fellow villagers for allowing their eldest and unmarried daughter to go to Skardu.
Life in Skardu brought it’s own set of challenges for Batool, who now had to juggle the responsibility of managing her own home and caring for her young siblings in addition to the demands of her schooling. When she heard of Iqra Fund’s scholarship opportunity, she immediately applied and was relieved to be accepted. “Iqra Fund gave me the inspiration I needed to continue my education.” No longer having to worry about working to pay for school, she was able to devote the necessary time to her education. Her mother also moved to Skardu to help with her with domestic responsibilities.
Batool aspires to complete high school and pursue a medical degree so that she can become a doctor and serve her village, which lacks access to healthcare. She also hopes that Iqra Fund expands its scholarship program so that more girls like her are able to receive an education and realize their potential.
“I believe that education is as vital as food and water,” says Zaira Zehra. “Although I have seen so many people forgo their own education or that of their children due to a lack of resources, I think that every problem can be solved with determination and so we should never give up on the fight for education.”
Zaira is the very first girl in Hushe Valley to be enrolled in a Master’s program. Studying Science Education at Karakoram International University in Gilgit, she was one of Iqra Fund’s first scholarship students, starting from high school and now into her advanced degree. Zaira is one of the few girls in her area who have had the support of their family in pursuing an education – her older brother was one of the first boys in the village to ever go to school and is now a prominent village leader who has ensured that his sisters and his daughters receive an education. In many ways, Zaira’s family has helped pave the way for other girls in the area to go to school. “Many parents around here are not educated, so it is difficult for them to see the value of education for their children versus the benefit of marrying them off early or having them work in the fields and tend to the animals.” However, Zaira is extremely motivated to work towards the benefit of her community, and volunteers with Iqra Fund whenever she is home from university by helping younger girls in the village apply for the Iqra Fund scholarship program. After completing her degree, Zaira hopes to establish and sustain an effective science education model in her area. She is proud of all the other Iqra Fund students, particularly the scholarship students, who are all motivated to work hard and excel in school.
“I dream of a life for my daughters where they are educated and finally free of poverty.”
Sakina is the leader of the Mother’s Support Group in her village of Basha Valley. Understanding that the success of a child in school greatly depends on their home environment, Iqra Fund works with mothers in each community, involving them in their children’s academic life to help create an atmosphere of support for the students. Mother’s Support Groups meet every few weeks and discuss ways they can help the community’s children succeed in school. Sakina explains one of the initiatives they worked on last year, “during the winter when school was in recess, we pooled our money together and hired a tutor for our children so that when school reopened, they were ready for the next grade.”
Sakina is uneducated herself, a self-taught midwife who has delivered most of the children who she now supports through her work with the Mother’s Support Group. She says that Iqra Fund has helped her and her village to see how education can empower a community, and is optimistic about the future of her village, “Hopefully some day thanks to Iqra Fund one of these children will become a doctor and my services won’t be needed.”