Kasur District, Punjab Province, Pakistan – May, 2012: Life has been a constant struggle for Allahditta, 36, the proud father of five children: four girls and a boy. Allahditta was one of eight children in a family that lived in poverty. As a child, Allahditta’s family could afford to send him to school for only two years—survival was the priority. Report by A. Sami Malik
Today, Allahditta’s priority is to give his children the education he did not receive so they can thrive and succeed.
“We have a son and four daughters, and they all go to school; we want them to be well educated,” explains Allahditta. “When it comes to education, there is no difference between a boy and a girl. We’re proud of our girls: Every time we go to their school, their head teacher speaks very highly of them.”
Allahditta’s wife agrees. She also didn’t have a chance to get an education. Making ends meet is a challenge in this family, but Allahditta is willing to sacrifice for his children’s schooling. He strongly believes that prosperity comes with education and, therefore, he won’t compromise on it.
Allahditta started working at a bicycle repair shop when he was only 8 years old. Over the years, he switched jobs and businesses, but nothing brought prosperity.
“I’m a poor man. I’ve been struggling all my life to make a decent living”, he says. Today, he owns a small shop but he’s still struggling to make ends meet: “After paying the rent for the shop and other expenses, I am still left with little to survive on.”
Child Friendly Schools
Fatimata, 13, and her sisters Amina, 11, Rimsha, 9, and Shumaila, 4 are enrolled at the UNICEF-supported Kot Azam Khan Government Girls Elementary School.
The school follows the holistic child-friendly school model that UNICEF introduced across Pakistan.
The key principles are inclusiveness, academic effectiveness, providing children with a healthy and protective environment, as well as promoting the active participation of children and the community.
UNICEF has helped provide rigorous technical support for teachers and headmasters. It’s also providing essential learning materials such as school-in-a-box kits, notebooks, pens and pencils. These essential supplies provide children with the tools they need for better learning.
“The provision of notebooks, pens, pencils and supplementary reading materials by UNICEF contributes to children’s cognitive development, giving them a lifelong learning opportunity inculcated through participation in various activities,” explains UNICEF Education Officer, Mehvish Mehmoona. “Teaching without classroom supplies would be nearly impossible because students would have no way of practicing the skills which they have learned in the classroom,” Mehmoona adds.
Fatima, the family’s eldest daughter, is in seventh grade. Her father says she enjoys participating in debates, quizzes, and essay writing, as well as sports competitions.
“Our father is very particular about our education; he always asks if we have done well in our exams,” Fatima says. “I often score the highest marks in my class so he expects me to do something special in life.”
After school, the children spend a few hours together studying and writing their homework in their exercise books. Allahditta walks by them quietly so as not to interrupt their concentration. As dinner approaches, Fatima helps her younger sister with an exercise and puts her homework away. “I wish to become a doctor and make my father proud,” she says.
UNICEF supports Allahditta’s dreams for his children, your Inspired Gifts of Education help make these dreams come true.