The historic city of Lahore has been the centre of influence in the region for centuries. As the provincial capital of Punjab – Pakistan's most populous province – it maintains its importance. In recent years, the Lahore District has seen a swathe of infrastructural development projects, including a modern mass-transit system and an efficient network of roads. Unfortunately, this urgency for improved infrastructure has not been seen in the district's education system.
With a growing population of over 9 million people, aggravated by constant rural-urban migration, the educational infrastructure in Lahore district is feeling the strain. The literacy rate of Lahore is 65%. Around 8.8% children in Lahore between the ages of 5-9 are out-school. This number rises drastically as children grow older – almost 26% of children between the ages of 14 and 16 are out of school. Every 7th child in district Lahore is out of school.
The condition of the existing public school infrastructure of the provincial capital leaves a lot to be desired and shows widespread neglect. Humqadam-SCRP's baseline survey shows that less than 37% of public schools in Punjab are in a satisfactory condition, while almost 14% can be categorized as dangerous. Existing classrooms are overcrowded and cramped, with more than 60 students in a classroom, further exacerbated by the government's enrolment drives to bring children into schools. This overcrowding is a major contributor to drop-out of students and an increasing reliance on substandard private schools. In addition to this, there is a host of missing facilities in public schools; only 22% of schools supply clean drinking water. Around 93% of Lahore's public schools have hand-washing facilities. However, only 59% of these facilities can be deemed hygienic, with less than 69% having availability of a soap.
Humqadam-SCRP has taken up the challenge of improving Lahore's educational environment. At the core of our efforts is the belief that a safe and nurturing educational environment can be the catalyst for any educational reform. This belief is reflected in our designs – Humqadam-SCRP's engineers are using innovative construction techniques to ensure long-lasting and comfortable schools.
In the first Phase of the project, Humqadam-SCRP is constructing 490 new classrooms in 92 schools across the district. Of these, 42 classrooms are at 2 dangerous schools in Lahore. These 92 schools, chosen in coordination with the Punjab Government, are chosen based on a prioritisation criteria that considers Overcrowding, Multi-Grade Teaching, Shelterless schools and an emphasis on Girls Schools. In addition to classrooms, Humqadam-SCRP is bring a host of missing facilities to these schools like drinking water, electricity, libraries and boundary walls.
In addition to this, Humqadam-SCRP has also formed 104 Community Committees for School Infrastructure (CCSIs) to promote community involvement and ownership in, not just the construction process, but also infrastructure as a whole.