Primary school enrollment in Pakistan is on a shocking low at 56% of the overall population. Approximately 20 million school age children are out of school, for every 10 kids out of school around the world, one is Pakistani. – Source: British High Commissioner to Pakistan. This certainly, is an education emergency. Whilst politicians are busy in blame games, the current government seems to focus the budget solely on military purposes; demeaning the importance of the education sector.
As officials fail to deliver on a consistent basis, fortunately there are organizations and people who are cutting on their own bread for the better future of the nation. One such organization is The Garage School (TGS); an educational shrine for the underprivileged children as well as adults of Pakistan. “My basic aim is not just to give them education but to make sure they stand on their feet.” says Shabina Mustafa, the founder and driving force of The Garage School (TGS); providing free education, health care and vocational training for the past 15 years.
Whilst Shabina has been the spearhead behind the initiative, she was lucky enough to be supported by generous individuals and socially responsible corporations; this has helped her leverage TGS to greater heights. One such corporation is Microsoft Devices Pakistan, which recently donated 10 computers to aid the IT-based education of TGS’s students in Karachi. In a period where technology has become a necessity and a regular part of our lives, I was thrilled to see the children so excited about using their new computers – that for most of them was a new discovery; a device that might change their lives for the betterment of their future.
“TGS has given me a new hope. When I go home, I feel a sense of achievement in me; a drive to wake up each morning and make my parents proud. Using the computer really excites me; it motivates me to attend school. I watch cartoons, play games, read poems – it feels as if the entire class room is stored in the device, it is incredible” says Abdul Raheem, a student of TGS. “I ate all the biscuits!” he exclaimed jubilantly as he finished playing Pacman on his new computer.
The Garage School is a beam of inspiration for those who dare to dream. A place that started off with planks of wood and blocks of cement – now has a second school, a three storey premises, in the heart of Neelum Colony; the locality where most students reside. The learning center now provides academic classes as well as vocational training classes such as carpentry, computers, cutting, sewing and embroidery. It is also imperative to mention the support of corporations like Microsoft Devices Pakistan who have voluntarily taken up the responsibility to educate the children of Pakistan. Education institutions like TGS are in dire need for technological and other intellectual resources and only in synergy with corporations like these can they perform at the optimal level.