In a country where public schools are, more often than not, less than mediocre with unqualified teachers and little to no funding, education in Pakistan is in a sad state of affairs. Along with this and the rise of costly private schools for middle to elite class children, those who are underprivileged are often forced into working as street beggars, with education being left behind.
When 12-year old Shireen was approached by a young girl at a traffic light, who instead of asking for money requested Shireen to teach her, she realised something needed to change. Deeply affected by this encounter, Shireen decided that she would do something about the state of public education in Karachi, Pakistan. An idea rooted in hope for change, Shireen’s initial intention of a small session eventually turned into a full-scale school with multiple branches spread throughout the city, with the help of her elder brother, 15-year old Hasan.
Together, this sibling duo run their school six days a week from 4 – 6pm and teach the students multiple subjects, including English, math, and the local language- Urdu. They also hold exercise classes as well as fun activities and games on Saturdays.
The siblings are aided by teachers who help around the school and who are also paid for their contributions. Initially, The Street School was funded by a non-governmental organisation but is now run completely on the siblings’ own expenses. The inspiring brother and sister team also distribute snacks around the school which further encourages these children to continue coming and learning. The local community has also gotten involved by providing funds and donations, as well as cold refreshments and umbrellas to beat the heat. A pick and drop van service has also been set up by the siblings to alleviate travel expenses for students coming from far off places within Karachi.
Six-year old student, Sidratul Muntaha has been heard saying, “I want to study and become educated like all other people but my family cannot afford it”. She has been attending the school regularly and feels a sense of pride and joy when everyday she goes home and shares what she has learnt, especially English, to her family. There are thousands of children, like Sidratul, who just don’t have the means to attend a decent school, and this initiative has not only made their lives better, but in the long run, have also contributed to their future generations.
This enterprise truly goes to show just how far setting up some tables and chairs in an empty field, mixed with a passion for education, can go. It is absolutely inspiring and heartening to witness how just two members of the youth have taken to the streets and are stepping up where the state has failed. These acts of kindness and charity are what tie the community together and it is always important to give back to a society that has given you so much, and what better gift is there to give than education.