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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Get up, stand up

Ghotki is a district of Sindh with a population of more than 970,000 and a very low literacy rate – estimated to be 29% for men and just 11% for women. Most schools of the area lack proper libraries and recreational facilities like playgrounds for students. The children and young people who are enrolled in schools are unaware of most of their rights and entitlements as students.

The Ghotki Active Youth Group was formed by young Active Citizens who wanted to improve the way schools are run in their community. The group reached out mainly to secondary school and high school students and talked to them about their rights and what they can do to demand them in a proper manner.

Some of the issues faced by the young people of the district highlighted by the group were a lack of learning and recreational facilities, a lack of higher education bodies, absence of a youth forum, the need for more coordination, networking between the young people of the district, and a lack of counseling services for young people – educational or otherwise. The denial of the rights to access to information and freedom of expression is also a source of concern.

Student rights awareness sessions were conducted in four schools by the group. About 200 students were reached by the group during the course of their campaign. A speech competition was also arranged which gave students a platform to voice their grievances with the school management and to make their demands known.

To ensure that student rights are safeguarded in different schools, the group members also helped organize a student youth group in a local high school and provided training to its members.

Funds for the group’s activities mainly come from donations from group members. Additional funds are raised through sponsorship from local businesses. In all, the group members were successful in raising about Rs.22, 000 to finance their awareness campaign.