The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified an acute learning crisis already facing Pakistan. Before the pandemic, Pakistan had the second-highest incidence of out-of-school children in the world. The World Bank has estimated that now an additional one million children are expected to drop out in the aftermath of this crisis.
As their families continue to face the economic trauma of the pandemic, children from less privileged communities are being forced to take up work to feed their families. Girls are also facing the prospect of early marriages. The most vulnerable children at an increased risk of dropping out. Bringing these children back to school is extremely critical because education is their only gateway to building a better life and escaping intergenerational poverty.
As one of the largest privately owned networks of low-cost formal schools in Pakistan, TCF strongly believes it has a key role to play in mitigating this crisis. We have accelerated our efforts to bring the less privileged children back into their classrooms and save their dreams and futures from falling apart.
Our strategy is built around three primary objectives.
Retaining TCF Students
Our teachers and principals have constantly been in touch with students and parents during this time, providing children with learning opportunities at home and keeping them connected to their schools. Our principals have been empowered to provide additional scholarships to children and even waive their fees to help bring them back to their classrooms. We are also facilitating students by offering them more flexibility so they can continue their education alongside their work. At this time, we are also prioritizing their socio-emotional well-being over catching up on curriculum to foster a relaxed and positive learning environment.
Re-Enrolling Private School Dropouts
Due to the economic trauma caused by the pandemic, low-income families find themselves unable to pay fees for private schools, where nearly 42% of the country’s school-going children were enrolled before the crisis. Moreover, since the pandemic, around 15% of private schools in Pakistan have shut down due to economic losses. TCF has accelerated its efforts to accommodate the private school dropouts by enrolling them into our schools. Our principals and teachers are actively conducting student enrollment drives in their school communities to make sure that no child loses out on education due to financial hardships.