Ways to Improve Education in Slums

Education is the movement from darkness to light.”

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–          Allan Bloom 

Education is a stepping-stone for gaining knowledge, acquiring critical thinking and attaining relevant skills that empower every individual to turn about their lives and impact the world.

Access to education in Pakistan has a constitutional backing, making it a fundamental right for every citizen. Article 25 A of the Constitution of Pakistan stipulates “free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of 5 and 16”; this implementation is not widely observed. Some gaps leave out children, especially those in slums. Inequity between the quality of education in rural and urban schools remains an unresolved challenge. As a result, this group is highly marginalised, without a voice in the national or developmental discourse that can transform the norms of urban poverty.

In this regard, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) released an ‘Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2021’, analysing the educational outcome in urban slums.

Out of the slums surveyed in Karachi and Lahore, every three children aged 16 years is taken out of school due to lack of opportunities and depilating education standards.

Children growing in urban slums have flocked out and opted for better options at every given point. Unfortunately, every child in the Katchi Abadis does not enjoy the same opportunities. Hence, in this blog, Graana.com discusses significant ways that can help improve the educational discourse in slum areas.

This study is aimed to shed light on solving social problems, including marginalisation associated with urban poverty, that can be attained through improving the methods of education for the culturally and socially deprived children of the slums.

 Reforming the Educational Model

Despite various government and private school systems operating nationwide, and issues highlighted in Pakistan’s educational system, a systemic reform remains elusive.

By introducing relevant ‘Saturated’ educational reforms,  the authorities must mandate children between ages 5 to 16 to attend schools. Considering this factor, it is imperative to aid the reform through experienced teaching faculty at government schools that ensure proper training, guidance, and preparation of the children attending schools belonging to urban slums.

Apart from this, the government must dedicate an annual budget focusing on rewritten textbooks, revised syllabuses, study material closely related to their actual experience – which helps these children form a more fundamental understanding required to overcome the social gap and penetrate the knowledge barrier.  

To promote participation, the government should introduce several scholarship programmes and specific incentives that encourage such children to study and change their circumstances.

 Educating Parents

Parents play a key role in their child’s life, from giving basic training to forming a child’s mindset that lasts almost forever. The influence of every parent in their child’s life defines the success of their childrens’ upcoming life. The children grow up as an evolved version of their parents. 

Unless a parent does not support education, a child cannot learn the importance of the phenomena to turn about their circumstances. There is a vast social divide between the peoples’ mindset living in urban and or rural or slum areas

Lack of knowledge, lack of opportunities and other basic facilities, and limited or almost no funds or money have pushed this class into psychologically believing the importance of labour over education. This, in turn, has become a generational mindset of people living in rural and slum areas – where 1 out of every 3 children are out of schools. 

And unless there isn’t a learning or conducive environment at home, a child will always be defined by their social class.  

Social Responsibility of Private Actors

The private actors and foundations have played a continued role in stimulating the growth and development of societies. Like every other sector, private firms and foundations also have responsibility regarding special education programs and facilities for the deprived children.

These can include awarding educational grants to students, stipend opportunities for teachers, or as much as using their public space to speak out about situations of social disadvantage  – to emphasise on improving the conditions of schools or/ and the preparation of potentially able students by creating an enabling atmosphere for the deprived students. 

Apart from this, the private actors can also help by ‘ effective marketing’ to highlight the essential items that these schools are deprived of as small as a chair. Even a small action can kickstart a chain reaction that can significantly add to the inclusion of these children by enabling them to stand tall with society, regardless of their background. 

Volunteer  Programs

Volunteer Programs are an effective tool for ensuring access to education for the children living in slums. In Pakistan, various success stories depict how the voluntary education programs in consortium with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are working on increasing the footfalls in schools at a micro level. Since slums at the periphery of urban areas are not recognised by the government and lack public facilities, therefore, the extent of government facilities often neglect the slums. Education should not be a prerogative of the privileged; the misfortune of the underprivileged should not bar them from attaining education and carving out a better future. What makes volunteer programs more compelling is that they are evolved in the local context and have a better understanding of the ground realities.


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