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Yearning For a Better Future for Children in Urban Slums

The Roshan Aaj Library and Learning Center has fast become a beacon of hope for the low-income urban settlement of Dhok Hassu. Run by the Akhter Hameed Khan Resource Center (AHKRC), the Library offers an alternative option for schooling to the underprivileged children of the community. Dhok Hassu is one of the many urban slums in Rawalpindi, and the availability of good quality education is severely lacking in the area. The conservative nature of the community as a whole translates into limited educational opportunities for girls. Since the Library offers a safe and secure environment for all its students, these children now have newfound hope and opportunities to learn and get ahead in life.

Figure 1: AHKRC’s Roshan Aaj Library and Learning Center

The Library offers courses in Digital Literacy and English, as well as chances for its students/general community to attend lectures given by prominent and learned individuals on a variety of topics. Operational since October 2017, the Library currently has a total enrollment of 30 students (of which are 16 are female), and teaching is generally achieved through audio/visual aids including educational apps on tablets/computers provided to the children.

Figure 2: Ali and Zain recording their performance in a tablet

English lessons are always full of joy; children learn through role-playing dramas and dialogues all the while correcting practicing their grammar and pronunciation. Many students, however, have to start from scratch since they have never had a chance to attend school before the Library. In these cases, special one-on-one instruction is given to make sure they are brought up to speed as soon as possible.

Figure 3: Hamad and Shahzeb learning the alphabet

The lesson in which the students have a chance to express themselves more artistically are often the Digital skills lesson. After having been taught how to use the different programs on their respective laptops, the children then have some time to practice their newly learned skills. From making fun presentations on Microsoft PowerPoint and having fun with different fonts and designs, to drawing on their Paint apps, the children enjoy the learning process thoroughly.

Figure 4: Sana showing some promise as a future architect

Storytelling Saturdays are the biggest hit for the Library since they are open to the general community as well. More often than not, a noted and distinguished guest is invited deliver a lecture on important subjects such as mental health awareness, the importance of nutrition, women’s rights etc. For the younger children, story-time involves the narration and/or role-playing of popular dramas by famous authors in Urdu as well as English.

 

Figure 5: Session on Tolerance and Diversity by SUSI exchange alumni Mehreen Shah and Seema Ali

These children are just a handful out of innumerable such children all over Pakistan. While education is a basic human right for everyone, countless children in Pakistan are not able to go to school for a variety of reasons. Learning Centers such as the Roshan Aaj Library are contributing towards making a change in this trend.

If you’d like to donate or get involved for supporting education of underprivileged children in Dhok Hassu, reach out at library@ahkrc.org.

Contributed by Hania Hussain

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