Written by Amina Nasim Khan
Photo credits: Aamir Ahmad Abdullah, Islamabad/Humqadam
Through the Humqadam-School Construction and Rehabilitation Programme (SCRP), the UK Aid is providing safe learning environments for young girls in the Punjab. This programme has influenced the community’s attitudes in a positive way, so that they have taken steps to further improve the healthy and safe learning environment for their children.
Government Girls Primary School (GGPS) Ganjain Wali Kalan is the only primary school for girls in the vicinity of suburban town Ugoki in Sialkot District of Punjab province. A single room structure barely accommodated 168 enrolled students at a time. The overcrowded, multi grade teaching environment, and the lack of safe learning facilities was far from acceptable for the teachers and students, by any standards. As a result, parents had been gradually pulling their children out of school, creating a negative impact on school retention rates.
GGPS Ganjain Wali Kalan was adopted for support by Humqadam-SCRP in 2016. Within months, this one room structure was transformed into a spacious two-storey school with four rooms. This support has reduced the student classroom ratio from 168:1 to 44:1.
This support from Humqadam-SCRP has united the local community in a bid to improve the future of the girls who attend the school. During the construction phase, the community members made the local marriage hall available for the students of the school to avoid disruption. The school also received a donation from the community in the form of a first aid kit and some dustbins. Financial contributions have also been made to enable the plastering of the school's boundary wall.
The local community and school council are now working together to further improve the learning environment. Letters were sent out to the education department identifying the urgent needs of the school, and as a result of which the department provided classroom furniture.
The school is now a much more enjoyable environment, not to mention a safer one. Now 179 school children are enjoying their studies in modern classrooms.
Humqadam-SCRP is UK Aid’s largest infrastructure programme in the world. It aims to improve infrastructure in government schools in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces of Pakistan, and as of October 2017 Humqadam-SCRP has constructed 1,151 new classrooms and rehabilitated 881 classrooms in 392 schools. The programme is a part of the £420 million Punjab Education Support Programme (PESP) II and the £283 million Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Sector Programme (KESP), large and ambitious programmes which represent a collaborative effort between DFID, Australian Aid, and the provincial governments to result in more children in school and better learning outcomes.