Inclusive construction of temporary schools provides conducive learning environment for girls in Balochistan
April 01, 2024 by UNICEF Pakistan |
4 minutes read

UNICEF and GPE help the School Education Department in Balochistan, Pakistan, enroll and retain students in the aftermath of floods.

A version of this story was previously published by UNICEF.

“We used to sit by our damaged school thinking that we may never get a chance to learn again,” says 10-year-old Aqsa Mustafa, recalling the aftermath of floods that hit Pakistan in 2022.

“I had just started coming to school when the flood water destroyed everything. There was no other school close to our village. I stayed at home all day helping my mother with her work but missed my school a lot.”

“When they started building the new school, we were very excited. They told us that it will be better than the one before.”

"Our new school is so beautiful! We have a toilet, clean water, a playground, a fan, and new bags and books," Aqsa beams with pride, her eyes sparkling.

A newly built colorful structure of the Government Girls Primary School in village Mohammad Ramzan Jamot, Lasbela district, is like an oasis in the desert for the children of this area.

As the only learning space in a 15-kilometer radius, this school is a beacon of hope not only for the 45 students enrolled here but also for the 120 families living close by in a cluster of four villages.

Girls play outside their newly constructed school which is built close to their old mud-structure school damaged during floods. Credit: UNICEF/Pakistan 2024/Sami Malik
Girls play outside their newly constructed school which is built close to their old mud-structure school damaged during floods.
Credit:
UNICEF/Pakistan 2024/Sami Malik

The old school consisted of a mud structure reinforced with bamboo supports and adorned with dried cutaway branches, to protect children from harsh sunlight.

“The new school building is a blessing for these children,” says Naheeda Jamal, teacher at the GGPS, Mohammad Ramzan Jamot.

“This is the only primary school for girls here. Since it started in the new structure, the enrollment has been consistently increasing.”

“I am the only teacher in the school but have Shagufta, a volunteer who helps me in academic work and managing the children.”

Naheeda and Shagufta are helping children learn with the help of new materials that they have received after the school inauguration. The school structure includes a toilet and a water source for clean drinking water.

They are hopeful that most of the girls attending the school will complete their primary education but know they may face difficulty to continue beyond grade 5 as the nearest middle school for girls is about 25 kilometers away.

Agsa getting help with a lesson from her teacher. Since the school is within the community, children who need extra help stay back after school. Credit: UNICEF/Pakistan 2024/Sami Malik
Agsa getting help with a lesson from her teacher. Since the school is within the community, children who need extra help stay back after school.
Credit:
UNICEF/Pakistan 2024/Sami Malik

The 2022 floods in Pakistan devastated large areas affecting nearly 33 million people.

Thanks to the humanitarian efforts led by the Government of Pakistan and assisted by its development partners, including UNICEF and the Global Partnership for Education, the disaster created opportunities for hundreds of thousands of children who are now learning in safer and cleaner environment and with better learning materials.

Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan. Around 60 to 80% children of primary age are reportedly out of school, more girls than boys.

In 2021, the School Education Department (SED), Govt. of Balochistan, initiated implementation of the Balochistan Student Learning Improvement Program (BSLP), which is funded by GPE and has technical support from UNICEF.

The objective of this five-year program is to improve students’ learning outcomes and the quality of teaching and learning in the province as envisaged in the Balochistan Education Sector Plan 2020-2025.

The implementation of the program was severely impacted by the flood emergency of 2022.

The generous contribution from GPE allowed to redirect part of the program funds for immediate response activities in the flood affected districts of Balochistan. This has resulted in restoration of clean and safe education facilities for half a dozen thousands of children.

Soon after the floods, a total of 77 temporary learning centers were established under this program in the affected areas of the province. Nearly 5000 children benefitted from these centers.

As people started to move back to their native areas, the centers were closed.

Now that people have moved back, 110 transitional school shelters have been established in public schools, which were damaged or destroyed by the floods, helping around an additional 4,500 students to return to education.

UNICEF-supported temporary school construction aims to reduce the key barriers to girls’ education through building gender-sensitive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, creating safe learning environments, especially for girls.

Agsa and her classmates gladly show their notebooks after completing a task. Credit: UNICEF/Pakistan 2024/Sami Malik
Agsa and her classmates gladly show their notebooks after completing a task.
Credit:
UNICEF/Pakistan 2024/Sami Malik

“Construction of this temporary school shelter has resulted in attracting young girls to education,” says Mohammad Anwar, District Education Officer, Uthal, who supervises public education institutions in the area.

“The new school structure is climate resistant as it has been built on elevated ground. In case of future flooding, this structure is not likely to be damaged. It is well lit and has good ventilation. For summers, it has ceiling fans, which are powered by solar energy. It also has a toilet and safe drinking water source. All these features will help in retention of students,” explains Mohammad Anwar.

For many children in Balochistan, temporary schools have provided their first chance to education. For others who dropped out of school earlier, it is an opportunity to rejoin and catch up.

Children receiving education in these centers are not only moving towards a better future but are also inspiring those who are still out of school to avail the opportunity.

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