Mashal Model SchoolPakistan’s education system has remained underdeveloped despite the country’s supposed commitment to education. As of 2016, over 10 million children and adolescents were not enrolled in school, and over 10 million people aged 15-24 remained illiterate.

In Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, there is a wide disparity in the education of youth. The city has a population of approximately 1.4 million with 88 percent of the population being literate. However, because it is a major city, there are still many areas with little to no opportunities to pursue a basic education.

The Mashal Model School

In the area of Bari Imam, Islamabad, many children must work in order to help support their families who are facing abject poverty. In order to provide for their families, in-need these youth typically must sell things on the streets of the city. Oftentimes, they are also subject to or involved in gang violence due to the poor conditions of life.

One school in Islamabad, the Mashal Model School, is working to change the fate of these youths by offering them a chance at education. The Mashal Model School is a non-profit organization that currently has four campuses across Islamabad, educating over 860 children ranging in age from nursery school to grade 10.

The school was established in December of 2008 and is located in the G-5 sector of Islamabad, better known as Bari Imam. The school is open to all students and has a more equitable ratio of male to female students than most other schools in the area.

The Curriculum at The Mashal Model School

Although the school follows the curriculum of both the Oxford University Press and The National Scheme of Studies of Pakistan, they take an unorthodox approach to educating their students. Because most of their students come to the school from difficult home lives and seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the way of their success, The Mashal Model School begins by educating their students about hygiene, health and protection from abuse.

The school works to create a safe learning environment for its students and teachers, and abuse of any kind is not tolerated. Once the students are accustomed to the school and the safety it provides, The Mashal School continues their quest to provide an individualized education.

In addition to a standard education, the school provides books, bags, uniforms, shoes, food items, library and medical insurance facilities as well as computer and science laboratories to its students. The school also offers its students life-enhancing courses such as art, sports, food preparation, painting and clay work in an effort to give the children a healthy outlet to work through the problems they face.

The school acts as an ally to its students and their families by ensuring that attending school does not become an additional burden on their lives. Tuition to attend the school is 50 to 100 rupees (50 cents to $1); however, over 40 percent of its students attend the school free of charge. To further its allyship, The Mashal Model School offers sewing and woodworking classes to the parents of the school’s students.

The school is currently a non-profit, registered trust that began with the funding of its founders and is funded today by donations from people all across the world as well as by educational grants from different embassies. By continuing to provide the best education possible while still managing not to create a financial burden to the students, The Mashal Model School is improving the lives of its students and the community in which it is located.

Savannah Hawley
Photo: Flickr