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Lucky few study beyond high school

Rina Saeed Khan | Panos London

Once they complete their Matriculation exams (known as Matric), most of the children in my school, especially the boys, will have to find work. In fact, many parents are waiting anxiously for them to finish their Matric so that they can then start working and earning for the family. Some have to leave to work before their Matric.

Some will start working in their parents’ shops or small businesses while others start looking for work in nearby towns. Many end up working as mechanics or skilled labourers. It is difficult to find good jobs these days and it is harder still if you have only completed your Matric. Some graduates even work part time so that they can try to continue with their studies but that is only a handful of dedicated children.

After Matric, most girls stay at home and help around the house with the cooking and cleaning. Most of them are waiting to get married. Some become teachers, like me, although I was lucky enough to be able to complete my Master’s degree.

Later this week we have also arranged a farewell party for the children – so in case they decide to leave the school they go with good memories. There will be poetry and songs and lots of food. The farewell party is for class 8 (age 13 and 14). Of course we are hoping that if they get good results, they will come back for class 9 (age 15) and class 10 (Matriculation).

I teach maths and science. I really do enjoy teaching and in fact have been appealing to the school’s management to organise more teaching workshops for us. Last summer I attended a teaching skills workshop at the school that was based on activity-based techniques. It taught us to become more interactive with our students.

The focus of my teaching is now on the children. In fact, the teaching in the entire school has now become more student-based. We teachers don’t just stand there and give lectures we try to involve the children. This has really built up the confidence levels of the children and they have become much more friendly towards us. They have learnt to share their thoughts and feelings during the class.

The school is trying to arrange a few scholarships for the most brilliant students to go onto college – but our exam results have not been so great lately so no one has actually qualified as yet. We have extra coaching for students who are weak in their studies. I teach maths in the evenings, though I take only the hostel children who can’t afford to go elsewhere.

If in the future a child has a spark, we will certainly reward him or her with a scholarship to go on to college. One of the hostel children was sponsored to go to college and he is now studying for his Master’s degree. His father had died and his mother could not afford to pay for his education so the school has helped him out ever since he came here.


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Maimoona Shahzadi






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