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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Education for all – turning a dream into a reality

Luqman Elahi lives in district Layyah – backward area of Punjab. 70% of the district is rural where a feudal social system of sardars and jageerdars prevails. Enrollment in the local schools is low; poverty plays the biggest role in the schools lack facilities. Ghost schools are a common phenomenon and are mostly used as ‘bhanas ‘(the place where the livestock is penned). Those who are willing to spend money to see their children educated face other obstacles: landlords who discourage education. Luqman chose to work as a youth activist for the development of his area and to help educate the residents of Layyah. He believes that this is possible only through awareness of the benefits of education. Says Luqman: “I will educate them about necessity of education”.
Luqman met different families during his door-to-door awareness campaign. He talked to parents about Article 25a  and how the dream of an educated Pakistan can now be turned into a reality. Luqman discovered that most parents of wanted to educate their children and had hopes for a better future for them – different lives than the ones they lead. The failure to pay the high fee – often to ghost schools is the main reason due to which they chose not to enroll their children in school.
When asked how he would address these challenges, Luqman replied: “I chose to work on admitting underprivileged children in a private school. I knew that it was challenging owing to the fact that they couldn’t afford to pay the high fees on their own”. Luqman met the principal of a local private school to discuss this problem. In the principal he found a kindred spirit who agreed to admit students to his school without charging them any fee for one whole year.
Luqman is not only generous with his time, but does not hold back in spending his money for the all important cause of education: “I managed to pay for their uniform cost but I am looking for sponsors to support the cost of books, stationery for admitted students” he says. Thanks to the efforts of Luqman, 33 children from his community now attend classes regularly without worrying about paying a fee for them for a year.

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