Photo: POWER99 Foundation
Pakistan has 22.6 million children out of school – most of whom have dropped out in primary grades. In fact, 49% of the total population of girls are not a part of the education system, for whom financial constraints and social and physical mobility remain the biggest barriers. Power99 Foundation received the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) award, to scale up a basic school education program, broadcast on radio, to provide affordable, quality education for marginalized children in Pakistan.
POWER99 Foundation uses radio as a tool for inclusive, holistic and child-centered education, aiming to reach 660 schools, 80,000 students, and 2,592 teachers through their ‘Broad Class – Listen to Learn’ program. With meticulously planned sessions, the program reaches out not only to students but also their teachers, educators, and parents. It also includes those who are not currently in school as well, since anyone can listen in to the program, fostering a love for education that can traverse cultural, gender and economic boundaries.
The broadcast nature of the lessons also allows previously city-centric quality education to travel to towns and villages and create a sense of community engagement in classroom learning. Teachers in the classroom turn on their radio sets during regular school days, tuning into on-air lessons for the children to listen to, and then assist individual students as needed, while the lesson is on air. The on-air lessons follow the national curriculum of the country, focusing on improving literacy, vocabulary, numeracy, as well as the oft-ignored physical, the social and emotional health of children in marginalized communities, especially girls.
The Global Development Network awarded the POWER99 Foundation USD 30,000 for a pilot in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which successfully impacted 4,963 students in 53 schools, and 127 teachers under its program, 'Japanese Award for Most Innovative Development Project.' POWER99 Foundation subsequently qualified and was awarded the JSDF award, worth USD 200,000, for a scale-up of their project to include 187 public school classrooms covering KG, Grade I, and Grade-II in Abbottabad district. Lessons can be heard on-air across 18 districts in Pakistan. This award will enable POWER99 Foundation to develop new content and impact a total of 7,585 children in 54 schools and 240 heads of schools and teachers, along with an estimated 2,500 parents and members of the community.
Good feedback for the program is rolling in. “Broad Class – Listen to learn has improved (the school) enrollment rate…if the program continues, in future there will be no problem of low enrollment rate in public schools,” says Abdur Razaq, Head Teacher of a government primary school involved with the program in Banda Ghazan Khan. Not only has the program had a positive impact on enrolment, but also teachers and parents are now able to communicate constructively with meaningful conversations about their wards' education. View a testimony from Gulnaz Bibi, a teacher at a government school in Shaikh ul Bandi, Pakistan.
Fakhira Najib - the Chief Executive of POWER99 Foundation - was invited by the United Nations to present a paper on "Language and Development" at Symposium on Language, The Sustainable Development Goals in May 2017. Her efforts with the program and the GDN-JSDF award were acknowledged by Pakistan's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi.