Over 700 students of Government Higher Secondary School, Dosehra in District Charsadda got a direct introduction to the Better Environment School Team (BEST) project in a ceremony launching the initiative in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. BEST had already seen a soft launch in KP at GGHSS Shahbaz Garri in Mardan during the visit of the British High Commissioner Thomas Drew.
BEST is a school-based and school driven initiative, where a team of 12 students and a coach is formed with a focused task of improving and maintaining the school environment. The vision behind the initiative is to recognize the students as the primary stakeholders of any initiative inside a school and inculcate a sense of ownership and responsibility in them. This will help motivate them to work towards making sure their school is clean, well-decorated and well kept. The design of BEST is completely school driven, so that it’s sustainable without dependence on external interventions.
The Humqadam Team began the launch event with a meeting with the teachers and principal of the school, who greeted the project with eagerness and immediately formed a 5-member organizing committee for the school team. Mr. Asad Jan was selected as BEST coach.
After the team visited each class of the school to give a brief introduction to the school-based activity and select volunteer student members. The students were visibly excited and eagerly elected 2 members from their class.
The elected student members of BEST were then involved in a discussion on school improvement, where they shared ideas on improvement of school environment. The BEST Manual was shared with the student members and coach of the school’s BEST. The manual contains ideas on school improvement and guidance on involving the wider school body into the process through the ideology of Learn, Practice and Promote. The student members were also provided with BEST badges. The students were visibly excited and expressed their delight at BEST coming to their school.
Aasim Khan, a student of Class 7, and a member of the school’s newly formed BEST, enthusiastically said, “Being part of BEST has increased our resolve to keep our school neat and clean, and work on its beautification. Humqadam has built made our classrooms beautiful (through its rehabilitation work), but we will make sure that they stay clean and are not damaged.”
GHSS Dosehra is one of 25 pioneering public schools where Humqadam-SCRP is setting up BEST as a start, with plans for expansion to over 250 schools across KP and Punjab. At each school there will also be a teacher appointed as BEST coach with the responsibility to mentor, coordinate and assist the student members of BEST adopt the mantra of Confidence, Responsibility and Discipline.
Speaking at the occasion, Humqadam-SCRP’s Director Communication and Outreach Naseem-ur-Rehman said, “Giving students a say in the running of the school helps develop skills of participation and responsibility. We want to create an environment where students value their school experience.”
Sustainability is a key ingredient of Humqadam-SCRP’s ideology. With the construction of new infrastructure at schools, the long-term sustainability of these new classrooms and toilets can be achieved through the active participation of stakeholders inside and in the immediate vicinity of the school. Coupled with the CCSIs comprising of parents and community members, BEST aims to mobilise the potential of the students in taking ownership of their schools and devising methods for the improvement of its environment.
The head teacher of the school then oversaw an oath-taking ceremony where the students of the school pledged to work diligently for the improvement and upkeep of their school’s environment, and for the prosperity of their school, their community and their country.