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Project Re-Educate Goes Into Action

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By Hassan Saeed, YES '09, Pakistan

“The illiterate of the 21st Century are not those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn." - Alvin Toffler

In the attempt to motivate young minds to direct their energies towards positive learning, the YES Alumni in Karachi, Pakistan decided to conduct a 3-day leadership and skill building workshop for the students of Al-Asar Academy in Kohat.

Typically the schools in Kohat and other remote areas lack such capacity building opportunities due to cultural and religious obligations as well as security concerns which make it difficult for activists and non-profit groups to introduce this type of program. It was a very difficult to identify a school for this project because many of the schools were no comfortable with male trainers training female students.

Eventually, Al-Asar Academy was chosen as the project site. The school is located in the south of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, which is on the border of Orakzai Agency and close to disputed areas. Plus, it is a Shi’ite majority school. The Managing Director, Ahmad Raza, welcomed the YES alumni and said, “Al-Asar Academy is a non-profit institution providing free education and lodging to orphans, poor children, and the needy ones regardless of their cast, race, religion or creed.” With such a great cause already in place, the project served as an excellent opportunity for these students to capitalize on their learning and motivate their fellow students to learn as well.

Project Re-Educate is a 3-day workshop by YES Alumni KPK focused on motivating the students of Al-Asar Academy, Kohat to learn and work for the betterment of community. This is a project funded by the American Councils for International Education as a result of 2013 YES Alumni Grants Program. The following alumni have worked tirelessly to ensure a successful project: Hassan Saeed YES ’09 (Peshawar); Farwah Rizvi YES ’10  (Islamabad); Abdul Wali YES ’12 (Nowshera); Meera Hayat YES ’13 (Kohat); Muhammad Asfandyar YES ’13  (Peshawar).

Prior to the start of the program, the team met with the students to evaluate their level of understanding and interest in certain topics. The priority was to design content for the workshop that carefully addressed the students' needs in the best manner possible. After a day long visit at the school and spending time with the students, the team realized that the students were absolutely on track in their curricular education but they lacked information about extra-curricular activities and how to utilize their time outside the school.

One student, Khurshid, said, “We like our school a lot and teachers are doing a great job in helping us to learn”. On asking about their activities outside the school, another student, Aqib, said, “I play cricket with my friends in the neighborhood all the time and if I find some time, I watch TV.” With this information, Hassan Saeed, the leader of the project, carefully chose the topics for the workshop. Each session was designed to share introductory information with the students and to motivate them to learn further about the topic at school or at home. Through interactive games and activities, the workshop covered the following topics:

- Team Building
- Cleanliness of Environment (Recycling, etc)
- Child Rights
- Capacity/Confidence Building
- Importance of Community Services
- Time Management (How to be a successful student/Online Education, etc)

Two topics were facilitated each day. Day one, covered child rights and time management. In the session on child rights, the students learned about the various rights children have, why they were established and how are they in practice today in various countries. The time management session, discussed the importance of time, how to prioritize their activities and methods in which students can spend their after-school time productively. Day two focused on confidence building and the importance of community service. In the confidence building session, the students learned about how to overcome their fears, believe in themselves and trusting their skills to become a better person everyday. Students were then introduced to the concept of community service, its importance and how it contributes to the development and enhancement of the larger community. Day three, the students were engaged in various outdoor and team-based activities. The first session was team building, during which they learned about the ethics and morals of working in teams and key factors that ensure successful teams. The students were then divided into teams and were assigned to create a large tower using recycled newspapers. In the second half of the day, students learned about cleanliness of environment through recycling as they participated in a campus clean up community service project. This set a strong example for the rest of the students along with the teachers.

The sessions were recorded by Radio Pakistan in Kohat. The final recordings will be divided into four one-hour episodes, which will air on Radio Pakistan for listeners in the southern belt of KPK and Punjab. The shows will be in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, in order to reach a wider audience. The hope is that the community will learn from the workshops and will spread the knowledge with their friends and family.

This is the first of a two part story on Project Re-Educate. Please read the next story about the reaction of the community and workshop participants.

 


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