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One year after the floods in Pakistan, prototype school gives hope to children

MULLANWALA, Punjab (July 29, 2011) —  The 2010 floods in Pakistan forced the bulk of the population of Mullanwala to move to safer ground. When flood waters receded and people returned, they discovered that not a single structure in the village was standing. Not even the one-room Masjid school.

As people started to rebuild, UNICEF and its implementing partner, Jahandad Society for Community Development (JSCD), established a tent school in the village. Soon after, the Education Department of Punjab granted the school status of a Government Primary School, and the enrollment reached 217.

©UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Sami
Shahbaz in his grade three classroom at GPS Mullanwala, which has received all necessary school supplies and learning materials from UNICEF.

Today the three-room school compound has all the essential amenities, including safe drinking water and sanitation, adequate school supplies and learning materials. A 'Child-Friendly schools' approach, promulgated by UNICEF and the Government of Punjab, has resulted in a substantial increase in enrollment  to 361.

A prototype for 500 new schools 

 Shabaz, age 13 is a student at the UNICEF-supported Mullanwala school.

"Before the floods, I used to go to a one-room school (a mosque school which provided informal education). When the floods came, we moved to high ground in Muzaffargarh. When we returned after the floods, our school had been destroyed. Then, we got a tent school, books, bags and everything else. We are getting a good education and we are very happy. We thank UNICEF for this," he says.

Hina Farooq is the Project Coordinator for the Jahandad Society for Community Development. She has been involved with the school project since September 2010 and feels very proud of what has been achieved.

"Mullanwala Government Primary School is more than just a primary school. It is the hub of leaning. With UNICEF's support, we have introduced the concept of 'Child-Friendly Schooling' to students, teachers and community members. Teaching without corporal punishment is something new in this environment. Since children don't get beaten up in school, parents are also learning that physical punishment is detrimental to a child's upbringing,” she says.

"Early Childhood Education in Government Primary School Mullanwala prepares children of 3 to 5 years of age for formal education. Youth groups that include boys and girls from 13 to 18 years-old help us with management issues and motivate parents in Mullanwala and surrounding villages to send their primary age group children to school."

UNICEF's Education Officer, Yasir Arafat, considers the Mullanwala school a true prototype. "This school is a great example to be replicated in other flood-affected areas. It has motivated the entire community towards education."

The increase in enrollment has made the case for building two more classrooms in Mullanwala and hiring a new teacher for the school.

Now, some 500 semi-permanent schools like Mullanwala are under construction in the province to be ready in December.

Author: A. Sami Malik

Source: UNICEF



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