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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Computers for change

The dismal state of the education sector in Pakistan is a well-established fact. Perhaps that is why the majority of Social Action Projects focus on improving access to learning. Dr Saif-ur-Rehman is an Active Citizen whose Social Action Project Projects, Learning, Leading aims to support the existing learning environment.

Dr. Rehman is well aware that the education sector is plagued by major issues such as a lack of functioning schools, ineffective government policies and gender discrimination. However, he believes that starting small and improving the current facilities will play a big role in increasing school attendance.

With help from his three team members, Dr. Rehman set about to collect funds for two computer labs in the underprivileged localities of Karachi. The first one, located in Karim Nagar, was launched in 2010 and has eight computer stations. The second one, located in Gulzar-e-Rahim and launched this year, comprises twenty computer stations. Computer courses and training programmes are offered at a nominal fee (Rs.100-150) at both centres and they operate from 9am to 10pm daily, with students gathering outside in long queues to avail the services.

Technology can make learning fun and Dr. Rehman is of the opinion that if children from less privileged communities have access to computers, their entire outlook to learning, and to life, will change. Not only will it improve their performance in schools, it will enable them to learn basic skills that can enhance their earning potential.

Currently, the project is overseeing the construction of a Resource Centre, which will house a computer lab, a library and a reading room. With books, newspapers, magazines and a variety of other resource material, it will be a healthy alternative for youngsters who are normally found loitering in the streets.

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