Written by: Abeera Ahmed/Islamabad
Photos credits: Nadia Nargis/Muzaffargarh
Source: Nadia Nargis/Muzaffargarh
Based on the core tenets of Humqadam School Construction and Rehabilitation Programme’s (SCRP) design philosophy, facilitating inclusive education through accessible and improved school environment is a priority. One of the key ways Humqadam-SCRP is ensuring gender parity is through provision of new and upgrading existing school infrastructure across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces. Through provision of quality classrooms and toilet blocks, which accommodate the needs of all children, including girls and persons with disability, Humqadam-SCRP hopes to lay the groundwork for better attainment of educational outcomes, particularly improvement in girls’ enrolment and retention.
Government Girls High School (GGHS) Thata Sadiqabad in District Khanewal, Punjab province, is one of the few all-girls’ high school in remote Southern Punjab region, catering to overwhelming student body of over 600 female students from the surrounding areas. However, with only five classrooms and five toilets, the school’s infrastructure was hard-pressed to accommodate the students.
Shanza Bibi, a 14-year old student enroled in grade 9, is a student at GGHS Thatha Sadiqabad. With the schools’ overcrowded and worn out building, her father pulled her out of the school on account of the dangerous building and the long commute to the school.
The turning point came in 2015 when the school was adopted by Humqadam-SCRP. Altogether 16 new classrooms and 14 new toilet blocks were provisioned to provide a much needed reprieve to the female students at the school. The school’s transformation into a safe, secure and improved learning environment signalled to the community the importance of investing in girls’ education.
Hearing of the new school building from her father, Shanza Bibi finally managed to convince her father to re-enrol her at the school. For Shanza Bibi, the educational experience at GGHS Thatha Sadiqabad has improved significantly. The student:classroom ratio at the school has significantly improved from 139 students per classroom to 36 students per classroom, which is ideal ratio for a conducive classroom environment. Additionally, the new toilet blocks now cater to the needs of the female students, particularly in keeping with the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) needs.
So far 330 schools have been completed in Punjab, of which 150 are girls’ schools. And additional 213 schools are under construction in Punjab. Improved infrastructure and accessibility are already paying real dividends in the form increased enrolment and retention Humqadam-SCRP’s efforts show an unmistakable momentum for girls’ education.