Writing about education and especially when its concern to Pakistan makes you depressed. It is not an easy task because so far education is the most neglected area in the country. According to the UNESCO report, Pakistan stands second in global ranking of out-of-school children with 5.5 million children are not enrolled in any school. Primary education is the basic learning phase in a child’s life but unfortunately almost 57.3 percent children are deprived of education as reported by Annual States of Education Report. Considering the facts, it shows a bleak picture of education sector in Pakistan. According to the Article 25 (A) of the Constitution of Pakistan, the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to 16 years. . The ground reality is opposite as the government has not provided any facility of free education for the needy students. And to think that government provides a free IT-based education at the primary level is just out of question for now.
So, when my course-in charge assigned me to write an article about the IT-based education at the primary level for the underprivileged students. I was little worried because finding such school in the city of lights is not easy task and that also in the month of Ramadan and when you are only given a two-day deadline to finish the herculean task.
Somehow, I started with my research which is prerequisite in working on any feature article. Browsing through different websites, fortunately I found good news where it was mentioned that Microsoft Devices Pakistan has donated 10 computers to ‘The Garage School’. The news raised the curiosity inside me and I instantly decided to delve more into this story for my article. On arrival to the school next day, I found out that these new computers have created enthusiasm among students and they were all ecstatic to have a computer lab in their own school which they felt is a blessing.
For some privileged people including me, it may not be a big thing because for us technology has become a necessity and regular part of our lives, but what we forget to understand that the students enrolled in TGS might be using for the very first time in their lives. These 400+students of the school belong to underprivileged areas where each penny counts and wasting on luxuries is not an option. But TGS is one such educational organization that has opened a doorway for these disadvantaged children and gives them a ray of hope to pursue their dreams and that is to be educated.
In the present era, it’s important to be equipped with all the modern techniques of education and computers are one of them. Shabina Mustafa, the founder and driving force of The Garage School is of the opinion that imparting an IT-based education to the students at the grass root level would help them to navigate their lives towards betterment. Mustafa also believes that education is not only about passing exam but rather it gives a sense of empowerment to the students so that they can stand on their own feet. TGS has been providing free education, health care and vocational training for the past 15 years.
During my visit, I got an opportunity to visit the computer lab in the school. As I entered the lab, I saw students beaming with elation because they would not have thought in their wildest dreams that they will have an access to computers for the very first time in their own school. Faiza who seemed busy in acquiring the basic education about handling PC is a second grade student at TGS. She jubilantly shared about her experience; “I was thrilled to have computers because now my dream to know about renowned painters and artists from all over world can be fulfilled and someday I will also become a famous painter like them.” Likewise Rafia and Abdul also shared their interest with us. They both love to play games on computer. Rafia is a foodie and loves playing Pinball and her dream is to travel the whole world. “I feel like these computers have given me wings and now I can fly to accomplish my dream by learning more about the world and people, “exclaimed Rafia with sheer joy. Abdul never knew that the love for computers that started way back when he first time saw someone using a computer and typing smoothly on a keyboard would actually become a reality. Abdul over excitedly shared his sentiment, “With new computers in the school, I can play games, read new short stories and surf the internet through web. “ Adding further, “I feel like the world is just a click away,” he concludes
The visit to TGS made me realize that even though the effort might seem like a straw in the sea but this is only the beginning and more technology driven corporations should come forward to establish a ground for imparting IT education to the underprivileged students. By doing so, these students can realize their potentials and be ready for their challenging tomorrow.