ActionAid Pakistan announced breakthrough for schoolchildren of Cholistan

The Punjab government launched a project called Parha Likha (Educated) Cholistan in 2009. The project aimed at funding 75 schools in different parts of Cholistan. People in the communities themselves provided land for school buildings and they pledged their commitment to ensure the provision of drinking water in these schools. Though not up to the satisfaction of the local community, meager salaries were provided to the teaching staff and free teaching aid materials, including books and school kits.

children_from_cholistanMore than 5500 children have been benefitting from this project, which was due to close in March 2014 if no further funding became available. Soon the people realized that unless they launch a campaign for the continuation of the project, it was a real possibility that the project might close down if no further funding allocations were made and a new agreement reached.

Al-Sadiq Desert Welfare Organization launched a vigorous campaign with the support of Actionaid Pakistan to save the future of these schools. After many press talks, publications, camp school activity and rallies, the Chief Minister of Punjab began to take notice!

“We’re very pleased to report that the school funding is being extended – and salaries for teachers has more than doubled. Junior Teachers were getting 2500 rupees and Senior Teachers were getting 5000 per month. Now the proposed amount for junior teacher is 9000 and for senior teacher it’s 12000! Needless to say, both the teachers and the parents, after campaigning for a good quality of education for their children, are very happy.” ActionAid announced on its official website.

In next phase of the campaign, ActionAid is planned to ask the government to run these community schools under the umbrella of the Education Department instead of Cholistan Development Authority. This shift would secure the future of these 75 community schools on a permanent basis.

Cholistan is one of the most neglected and poverty stricken area of Pakistan. The people of Cholistan live a very hard life as many basic amenities of life are almost non-existent in the area. ActionAid Pakistan has been working with people in the Bahawalpur district of Cholistan as a long-term Local Rights Programme since 2011.

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