TCF is one of the leading organizations of Pakistan that is working for the provision of education to the less privileged. This non-profit organization was set up in 1995 by a group of citizens who aimed to bring about a social change through education.
Recently, TCF held a meeting in its Karachi head office where the CEO Syed Asaad Ayub Ahmed along with its two alumni discussed the educational strategy for the next ten years along with the importance of schooling the unschooled children. They also talked over the positive impact created at the basic level by the TCF school network across the country. On the other hand, the challenges that the organization faces were stated and the core challenge is the lack of funds and realization about the importance of education.
In 2012, at the pace that the TCF was working and was about to hit the target of establishing 1000 schools, a strategic development unit was formed that was to decide about the next goals. This unit served its productivity in many ways out of which one was the start of experimentation in the low-cost private schools where the quality of education isn’t up to the mark. From there this unit initiated training sessions, provision of books and monitoring system by joining hands with public and private partnership.
Talking about their vision for 2030, Mr Asaad Ayub said,
“The Citizens Foundation (TCF) is committing itself to create 2 Million Agents of Positive Change by the year 2030. Our budget for the fiscal year 2018-19 is Rs4.56 billion and that’s why we need the collective support of all Pakistani citizens to support education and help us empower dreams.
There are three major components of our strategy, Educate, Empower & Enable. We aim to educate more out of school children by expanding our formal schooling programmes and supporting our alumni through tertiary education. We aim to empower by offering structured interventions providing basic literacy skills and work readiness competencies, outside the context of formal schooling. We aim to enable other stakeholders within the education ecosystem to improve outcomes by sharing TCF’s programme, experience and capabilities.“
He further discussed that if we dig deeper, the unschooled number of children in Pakistan is the second highest and that outnumbers the population of many countries altogether. 17.5 million of these children are between 10-16 years who have no hope of being enrolled in a school because they are out of options. The problem lies in lack of a suitable program to teach these children because they require a special study program to be designed for them that aims to teach students of this age group in a fast track and make them meet the desired education level corresponding to their age.
A lot of research is required before jumping into this because the problem is serious and deep-rooted. The team at TCF is experienced in this regard because they are trained that way who will focus on the actual impact. There is no one size fits all type of thing here. The two requirements are extensive research and a lot of experimentation because this is an area that needs immediate attention in our country.
Another challenge for TCF is that the per child cost is very low i-e 1500 Rupees and they are managing it all in that.
Another area of efforts is the compiling and publishing of TCF books. TCF has been doing it for the last ten years. These books go through a lot of customization and research before forwarding them for publishing because they are focusing on bringing about a change. Due to this, the Sindh, Punjab and KPK governments have invited TCF to help them and TCF has been doing it all free of cost.
Two alumni of TCF namely Zakir Ali and Rohaila Khan also spoke and put in their two cents about their experience at TCF and the impact it has on their lives.
Zakir Ali (Alumnus 2012):
Zakir belongs to KPK and his father was a taxi driver. He didn’t know the basic etiquettes of talking or walking before starting school. After a lot of hurdles he never gave up on his dreams and his parents realized that it’s all in good faith and the students are able to acquire respectable jobs with a respectable educational degree. He started from 5th class in TCF But with persistent efforts of teachers and parents, his community got to know about it. Now, Zakir is studying software engineering at Iqra university and wants to become an inspiring software engineer. He said he has seen the changes and enlightenment education has brought in his community and TCF has made his dreams become reality.
Rohaila Khan (alumna 2004):
Rohaila initially studied in a private school along with her four other siblings. Her mother used to do sewing to meet the education expenses. There came a point when her parents could no longer afford the school fee. A neighbour then referred TCF to her mother and she got enrolled there in class four. From there she started taking interest in the English language and her concepts began getting clearer. She further on spoke about her fears that how TCF transformed a shy and scared girl to a confident one. Another benefit she gained from TCF was the low fee and quality education that urged her mother to enrol all her siblings in the same school. The fear of leaving education was diminished completely. And now she is serving as a principal at TCF school.
TCF is moving forward and taking along its vision to remove class difference and other barriers while making the Pakistani citizens as an epitome of positive change and enabling moral, intellectual and spiritual enlightenment for all without any privilege. We praise the tremendous contributions it is making in the education sector and wish them all the best.
In its 24 years of establishment, TCF organization has bloomed and now has 1567 schools, 28,876 matriculates and 2,52,000 students all over Pakistan.