MOBILINK ARDENTLY SUPPORTING EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN

Local organizations can do much for development of the society

AMANULLAH BASHAR
July 02 - July 08, 2007

Pakistan ranks amongst the lowest countries according to the human development index of UNDP. With an estimated 162 million people, it is the 7th most populous country in the world. Annual population growth rate is 2.0% and with this growth rate Pakistan's population is expected to cross the 295 million mark by the year 2050. With an increasing population every year, only half will have access to any formal education - the remaining will never see the inside of a school. Out of 162 million Pakistanis, 83 million adults of age 15 years and above (51%) are illiterate. 38% of all male adults of age 15 years and above are illiterate whereas for females the percentage is as high as 65%. The state of government schools is very poor; 15% of them are without a proper building, 52% without a boundary wall, 40% without water, 71% without electricity and there is frequent absenteeism of teachers. Government Expenditure on Education is only 1.8% of GDP.

TCF (The Citizens Foundation) is one such organization which is diligently working on developing the education structure and creating opportunities for children all over Pakistan. TCF schools are located in rural areas and urban slums where sending a child to school means losing a bread-earner. To make education affordable to such families , 'pay-as-you-can afford' system has been setup, where, scholarships up to 95% are awarded on the basis of need which is assessed on the grounds of the overall household income of each family, its circumstances and education related expenses.

TCF has Created more than 3,600 jobs; of which more than 2,400 are teachers and principals, 311 school units in 42 locations across Pakistan and about 40,000 enrolled students. This percentage comprises of 50% female students. TCF has very dedicated groups of supporters in Pakistan, USA, Canada, UK, UAE and Bahrain who have established TCF's presence in their respective countries as well.

One of their ardent supporters in Pakistan is Mobilink. The company supports TCF in an honorary capacity to create awareness about TCF and coordinate fund-raising effort to raise donations for various TCF programs. The company is devoted to the cause of providing quality education to the less-privileged masses of Pakistan and is working closely with the TCF to help take education opportunities for children to newer locations.

Mobilink has provided funds to TCF for the construction and operations of two schools, a primary school in Lahore (Nathoki) and secondary school in Karachi (Gulshan-e-Maimar). The funds will support to TCF in the construction, operations and provision of furniture/equipment for these schools. Mobilink will also fund the running cost of these schools on an annual basis. It is planned that the schools will be operational by August 2007.

A large-scale education program, with a growing network of schools, requires support in various capacities and large resources of funds. TCF's Education Program is funded entirely with donations and Mobilink has joined them in their cause to fight illiteracy. Mobilink also had a presence at the 'TCF Ilmathon', a walk organised to rid Pakistan of illiteracy and ignorance. The walk takes place every year in DHA and finishes with a 'Mauj Mela' held at the Marina Club. Mobilink will also support a marketing campaign for TCF as well as an SMS donation campaign.

TCF is also working on rehabilitation and reconstruction in the earthquake affected region (TCF Relief Fund) and aims to build up schools wherever possible in these areas. Out of the total number of 172 houses, Mobilink has helped TCF in Rehabilitation and reconstruction of 50 houses including supporting infrastructure, and water supply in Chamman Kotli Nawab Khan village in AJK.

Mobilink CSR team monitors the projects funded by the company. A recently received progress report of, construction of houses in Chamman Kotli village shows, 58 houses reaching the roof stage while 60 houses are at various levels of plinth construction and 21 are at site preparation and excavation.

A future goal of TCF is to establish 1,000 school units educating 360,000 children and Mobilink plans to maintain a long-term commitment with the NGO and will be even more visible as a corporate partner in the future.

"Children should epitomize all that is good, pure and hopeful about our world. The sad reality is that for millions, today's world is a harsh, uncompromising and frightening place... Children in need cross all cultural, racial, religious and international divides but there are no barriers to helping fellow human beings. Humankind is one and we need each other to survive" (Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu)

For any developing society to be successful and flourish a major part depends on the involvement of its local members and its organizations. In most developing countries, various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) are working actively in a variety of sectors, such as sanitation, education, health, and human rights etc. During the last few decades NGO involvement in the development sector has been phenomenal and has borne positive results.