The Walkway School – An intervention for an inclusive learning environment in Pakistan
The Walkway School aims to equip every individual with the basic right of education regardless of their gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity or social status, without discrimination. The Walkway School supports the notion that education is a fundamental right for everyone and not a privilege limited to those who can afford it.
The main aim of the initiative is to create safe and inclusive spaces, especially for those who are suppressed in the community, i.e. women, transgender people, the LGBTQ community and gifted people, especially those in remote and underprivileged communities. In addition, it aims to provide quality education in these spaces, with a focus on open dialogues around taboo topics to erase the stigma around them. Finally, it aims to ensure access to clean and renewable energy, along with clean water for sanitation.
- Qasimabad, Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan
- Diplo, Tharparkar, Sindh, Pakistan
- Islamkot, Tharparkar, Sindh, Pakistan
- Thano Bula Khan, Jamshoro, Sindh, Pakistan
- Khetlaari, Tharparkar, Sindh, Pakistan
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (2021), the global illiteracy rate was approximately 86% in 2019. This includes a huge number of girls who are not given the right to study and are forced to marry at a young age. It also includes people from the third gender who have never been accepted by our society.
Some of the major challenges addressed include:
- Changing the mindset of people living in tribal areas who do not think of education, especially for women, as a necessity
- Poverty: approximately 40% people live below the poverty line in Pakistan and people do not have the resources to send their children to school
- Child labour: high rates of poverty mean that children are forced into labour as their families believe that sending children to school will take money from them while sending them to work will bring them money
- Lack of resources and curriculum addressing stigmatised topics in society.
Approximately 22.8 million children are still out of school in Pakistan (UNICEF Pakistan). As a developing country with high inflation, rising petrol prices and unemployment, many people still lie below the poverty line. With changing governments and the COVID-19 pandemic striking the globe, many people, including daily wagers, lost their jobs and were forced into their homes, which further spiked rates of illiteracy and poverty. In the post-COVID-19 world, families have now started to focus on improving their financial situation and little importance is paid to education. It is therefore of utmost importance to make people realise the pivotal role of education and how important it is for countries’ economies, through collective efforts.
How was the initiative/policy implemented?
The Walkway School implemented its plan of action in two phases. During the primary phase, community drives in Hyderabad identified children most impacted by illiteracy. The School provided them with early childhood education through its well-designed curricula for their cognitive and emotional learning. During the second year of working, it further increased the number of community mobilisation drives and was consequently able to identify a greater number of children in need of education.
The secondary phase was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this phase, community mobilisation, door-to-door campaigns and open dialogue encouraged families to enrol their children in school facilities in Hyderabad and Tharparker. Next, work started to build sustainable safe spaces in rural areas. The aim of building these safe spaces was to provide the destitute with easy access to clean and sustainable energy, clean drinking water and good quality education. Through this the School hopes to build a sense of community resilience in these rural areas.
Who worked on and sustained the initiative/policy (key partnerships)?
Technical support for The Walkway School has come from Youth Co:Lab, Asia Pacific’s largest social entrepreneurship movement co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation. The Walkway School was also endorsed by the United Nations Youth Envoy’s office as part of the 2021 International Youth Day Youth-led Solution Showcase for Education. The Walkway School is currently represented at UNESCO SDG4Youth Network, where it is engaging global decision-makers and policy-makers in enhancing the 2030 Education agenda. The Walkway School also has over 20 partners in Pakistan, including the famous schooling system, Beaconhouse College Program.
When did the initiative/change/policy development take place (give dates)? What was the timescale?
The foundation of The Walkway School was laid on 5 June 2018 and it became completely operational from 5 July 2018 with its very first class of two children. Now, almost four years later, it is operational in two cities, Hyderabad and Tharparkar, with a single aim to educate those who are not given the opportunity to study.
Has the initiative/policy development been evaluated or are there plans for this in the future? If so, who will carry out this work? (Optional)
The initiative has not yet been evaluated as it is still growing and is yet to reach a point of maturity after establishing more educational facilities for deserving children. Future evaluations would be through the intervention of third parties, including government bodies and national organisations.
The Walkway School plans to build more educational facilities by 2025, and provide access to cleaner energy and proper water sanitation to people living near these facilities. It is currently working to further its impact by enrolling children in multiples of its present numbers, i.e. 3,000–4,000 children. It also plans to integrate and introduce open dialogues in its curriculum on topics that are considered a taboo, including sexual reproductive health, menstrual hygiene and the LGBTQ community. By enabling open talks on these topics, it aims to make people more comfortable talking about them.