The students of the Government Boys Primary School, Basti Haji Essa in District Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab Province received the exciting news of a timely donation of a plot of land for the expansion of their school premises. Local landowner and community member Riaz Ahmed donated 7 marla (approximately 242 square yards) of land adjoining to the school. This donation will assist the school to take full advantage of Humqadam-SCRP’s support.
Currently, the school of almost 300 students has only two classrooms, which means that the students are forced to study in cramped and unhealthy spaces, or they are forced to study outdoors, where they have to brave the inclement weather; an environment that is not conducive for effective education and development of young minds. Primarily a boys’ school, the facility also accommodates over a hundred girls because of the lack of girls’ schools in the area - gender disparity remains a key challenge. . The existing school only has two bathrooms; one each for students and staff. This means that almost 300 students – 100 of whom are girls - have access to just one bathroom.
As a member of the local Community Committee for School Infrastructure, and an important figure in the local community, Riaz Ahmed recognised the need for more space to build additional classrooms that will fulfil the basic requirements of a child-friendly healthy learning environment. However, the size of the existing school compound did not support any expansion plans for the school but this obstacle has now been removed by this kind donation.
“We have been hoping for something new for a long time. I have seen the enthusiasm of the children and parents for education and decided to support them and the Humqadam-SCRP initiative by donating the land for the school,” remarked Riaz Ahmed.
Community ownership and support is a key component of Humqadam-SCRP and is a vital ingredient in the overall development process. The programme is striving for wider community participation in the development of the educational infrastructure and is involving key community members, through its Community Committees for School Infrastructure (CCSI). The need for such support was identified at the outset of the project by community members across Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Although in its early days, the CCSI initiative is starting to bear fruit and communities all over Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are stepping up to join hands with the school rehabilitation campaign.
Commenting on this proof of the growing community participation, Mr Roger Bonner, Team Leader Humqadam-SCRP said, “There is no doubt that Riaz Ahmed’s kindness and contribution is a great example of communities taking an interest in the improvement of school infrastructure and providing better learning environments for their children.”
Humqadam-SCRP is constructing more than 300 new classrooms in Rahim Yar Khan District. This initiative will directly affect over 13000 school-going children. Construction work is approaching the final stages. In addition to construction work, the Humqadam-SCRP initiative has helped to establish over 100 CCSIs, where community members can take ownership of the schools and their development and to ensure that the educational infrastructure is maintained in the years to come.