Ilm Ideas Assists Local Groups in Sending Thousands of Pakistani Boys & Girls to School

Originally published on DAI Developments

In Pakistan, the constitution makes education for all children age 5-16 compulsory and requires that the state provide that education for free. Yet more than 25 million Pakistani boys and girls do not go to school. Even though this crisis feeds unemployment, poverty, and extremism, the Pakistani government is not giving it due attention.

Ilm Ideas, an education project funded by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by DAI, is taking an unorthodox approach to address this challenge by simply leveraging the ingenuity and determination of ordinary Pakistanis. Driven almost entirely by a grassroots demand for education, the results so far have been impressive: across the country, thousands more Pakistani children are now in school, and education advocates are energized. Even local governments are offering support.

Photo of Pakistani boys at school.

“I am really very excited about the journey [that] Ilm Ideas has taken to date and where it can potentially go,” said Asyia Kazmi, DFID Pakistan’s senior education advisor for education innovation and outreach. Continue reading

Moving towards Greater Sustainability: Winners of the Ilm Ideas and i2i Business Plan Competition


In October 2013, Ilm Ideas organized a two day Social Enterprise Incubator with an aim to help turn projects funded by Ilm Ideas in to self-sufficient revenue generating enterprises in order to decrease their dependence on donor funding.

The workshop was part of an Ilm Ideas effort to support the capacity development of its partner organizations in implementing, sustaining and spreading new interventions for improved education. The customised workshop was conducted in partnership with invest2innovate (I2I); an organisation dedicated to helping social enterprises in Pakistan in getting off the ground and generating revenue. Continue reading

Government Support Won by Ilm Ideas Funded Project in Gilgit Baltistan!

Ms. Sadia Danish, Minister for Tourism, Sports, Culture, Youth Affairs & Women Gilgit Baltistan

Ms. Sadia Danish, Minister for Tourism, Sports, Culture, Youth Affairs & Women Gilgit Baltistan

AGHE, a grantee of the DFID funded Ilm Ideas Education Program, has received a commitment from the Minister, Ms Sadia Danish, Department for Women’s Development in GB to adopt six  home based schools set up during their project!

AGHE have been working to create an enabling policy environment in district Diamer of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) to support girls’ education, with the specific objective of enhancing access and coverage of education services for girls.  The project has adopted an innovative approach of setting up  multi-grade home based  schools for girls in 3 tehsils of district Diamir, while also advocating with the GB Government to allocate more resources to address missing school facilities for girls’ at the primary level.  Six home based schools were established during the pilot phase in selected villages of six union councils of Diamir and 30 students were enrolled in each school. Schools were established in areas where there is no functional government or private school/s within the vicinity of 1.5 Km.  A home based school is composed of a teacher, teaching aids and basic requirements to facilitate a learning environment. Rooms and on-going support are provided by the local community.

This is particularly significant considering challenges to girls education in District Diamer where there are only 11 primary schools for girls, and availability of female teachers is quite scarce. Home based schools are a viable solution in addressing the growing number of out of school girls  as they are fairly low cost and enable alignment with socio-cultural norms.

By committing to affiliate the AGHE home based schools with GB’s Department for Women’s Development, Ms. Sadia Danish has helped establish a milestone in advancing the cause for girls’ education in district Diamer of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Ilm Ideas supported NFE Center adopted by the Government


Ilm Ideas Education Fund grantee, PRISE (Progressive Research Institute of Socio-Economics) has been successful in getting one of their Non-Formal Education Centers in Jhugian Gillan in District Nakana adopted by the Government. These children were enrolled in a one room non-formal school set up by PRISE with cooperation and help from the local community and brick kiln owners. Through sustained advocacy efforts with the community and government, PRISE is looking to make these schools sustainable by having them adopted by the government.

Advocacy efforts and community engagement by PRISE has led to the absorption of this NFE center and all its students into the local government primary school. 44 children (29 boys and 15 girls) who were being educated in this center are now enrolled in the local government school and attending classes there. We hope this is the beginning of a sustainable educational journey for these children and we wish them good luck for the new school year! Continue reading

Signs to Learn

Family Educational Services Foundation (FESF) is developing a Pakistan Sign Language (PSL) Visual Dictionary for deaf children which will include 5000 new word-signs, resulting in improved communication for students, teachers and parents across Sindh. Through PSL tools, FESF aims to improve literacy levels of an estimated 18,700 deaf students and their families in Sindh. PSL learning resources will be published on DVDs with an accompanying book, via a Web Portal site, as well as a phone app, and disseminated to the deaf and their caregivers free of cost.

fsefFatima can’t hear.  Her father, Ghulam Mustafa, a tailor by profession, dreamed of conversing with her and passing on his skill to Fatima so she could support herself financially when she grew up.  Mustafa felt the frustration that is common amongst parents of deaf children: The need to impart the correct values and guide his daughter towards a productive and prosperous future was hampered by the gap in communication.  This barrier did not allow father and daughter to communicate easily with each other, until Fatima and Ghulam started learning with the PSL Visual Dictionary. The resultant improvement has made a marked difference in the home life for both.

The PSL Visual Dictionary was initially developed by FESF as a small 500 word pilot, and Ilm Ideas funding enabled them to expand their project to add 5,000 new word-signs in three languages (PSL, Urdu, English) so that a diverse set of end users could be engaged and understand the content with ease. The PSL Visual Dictionary is now being tested and enhanced at FESF-managed Deaf Reach Schools across Sindh.  Teachers have been extensively trained on PSL and weekly sessions are conducted with parents to orient them on its use and application to increase communication capacity with their children.  Some of these parents have hearing disabilities as well, and have found the learning tools to be very helpful.

“Watching the PSL video at our weekly parent training sessions has enabled us to communicate better with our daughter.” Ghulam Mustafa Continue reading

My Son And I Go To School

It is not uncommon to hear of girls dropping out of school at an early age, particularly in the remote areas of Pakistan.  In an attempt to increase retention rates for these girls, the Sindh Radiant Organization (SRO) in collaboration with Ilm Ideas has initiated a project that allows girls to resume their education by setting up 18 Community Coaching Centers in rural villages of Sindh. An estimated 500 girls between the ages of 11-17 have been registered with nearby government schools and are now on their way to completing their secondary education.

mysonShahida is the mother of a nine month old boy, and she is determined to get an education so she can become a banker. Against all odds, she walks to school every day, her school bag in one hand and her son in the other. She is excited and relieved to continue with her education after it was brought to a sudden halt when she was ten years old.

Upon completing Grade 5, Shahida could not study further as there were no middle schools in her village. She was devastated that she could no longer go to school, be with friends and, above all, learn new things.  However, life continued and a few years later, she was married and had a son.  Responsibilities of being a mother reduced her chances of going back to school and Shahida started losing hope.

Then, the Ilm Ideas Community Coaching Centers (CCCs) for out-of-school girls were set up in her locality.  These provided girls the opportunity to bridge the gap between primary and secondary grades, enabling them to achieve secondary school certificates recognized by the Government of Pakistan. When Shahida decided to enroll she faced strong opposition not only from her parents and in-laws, but several members of her community.

“I had responsibilities, they reminded me.  I was too old to go back to school, they jeered.”

But Shahida stood her ground. She visited the SRO social mobilize who provided information regarding flexible coaching hours and guided Shahida about managing her domestic responsibilities and school schedule. Shahida started convincing other peers to join the CCCs and eventually formed a group of 4 other girls who would join with her. Jointly, they convinced their families that they would help each other look after their children at school

Shahida is a regular student at the Ilm Ideas Community Coaching Center, and is now enrolled in Grade 7.

“I will finish my BA and become a banker, so my children can go to good schools, especially my daughters!”  says a beaming Shahida.