A New Beginning ... Self-Learning Initiative

  • By Ajay Pinjani
  • Sunday, October 4, 2015

There was a spark! Sindh felt awakened just for that moment; because its children knew they were the ones who lit the candle.

Computers were placed, walls painted in green and while, and a ribbon tied waiting to be split apart. This was the inauguration ceremony of the Self Learning Initiative [a project launched by RETO Foundation] at the Community Based School, Tando Jam - a town placed at the outskirts of River Indus in the province of Sindh.

Our young hosts Iqra and Baakh [students at CBS] introduced the program with couplets from Shah Latif's poetry. The entire launch was celebrated in the language of the Indus - Sindhi, and students as well as members of Shades [youth led community development initiative] performed dances on music that brought forth the embedded cultural and pluralistic values of Sindh to the audience of parents, teachers and educators of the Town.

What stood remarkably outstanding was the vigor and passion with which some of the speeches were made by the young and enthusiastic participants. The dilemmas of Education System of Pakistan and alarming figures such as 25 million children out of schools, were eloquently shared, vilified and deliberated upon. Dur e Shahwar's [second year medical student] pitch made the audience deeply reflect on the multifaceted picture of education in Pakistan, demonstrating the disparity not only in class, but also clothes, medium of instruction, structure of assessment, and the curricula and its implementation in their entirety, Questions were raised and pockets of hope were shared with humility.

"Computers will do no magic, unless they are introduced in the spirit of learning", quoted one participant. So true was this observation, and what followed was an enlightening discussion on the value of curiosity, exploration and the role of teacher as a facilitator - who guides the students into the unknown with motivation and encouragement.

For me, this event was a walk back into Sindh - a place that has historically and to-date been exalted for its cultural wealth and humane philosophy, but lately remembered as a region that has made headlines only to show the debilitating state in which the future of its children lies.

I believe the latter part of the picture will change - and when I see these young students communicate so passionately, I am truly hopeful that this will happen very soon!