Our main aim was to provide primary education to the children and young people being supported by the TEACH Project, with a special emphasis on educating adolescent girls. We also aimed to offer vocational training to adolescent girls and help connect with markets, enabling them to establish small businesses. Finally, we aimed to raise teaching and safeguarding skills within the community by delivering high quality training to facilitators in areas such as pedagogy, child-friendly teaching methods, classroom management, safeguarding and Psychological First Aid. This would contribute to the availability of high-quality educational professionals within the community level.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented big challenges to the project's implementation as social distancing became a new way of life in 2020. COVID-19 made a significant technological shift globally but very few places were fully prepared for this change. Teachers and students need to be trained on technology – and we need to understand the devices and equipment that are most effective in the classroom.
The situation in Balochistan also posed safety and security concerns throughout the project's duration. The flood in Pakistan and especially Balochistan came after the field activities were fully completed. However, it did impact on the work that the TEACH programming had undertaken. Cultural norms also posed challenges when mobilising the community for girls' education.
The Girls’ Club initiative proved to be a remarkable success, as it not only helped girls to connect with one another, it also empowered them to become leaders and created a sense of accountability. Even after the project concluded, the Girls’ Clubs remain active, with members mentoring new students and passing on the knowledge and skills they had acquired. Several groups have even launched livelihood projects, pooling their resources to purchase equipment such as sewing machines that they can use to generate income.
The teacher training component of the project was also highly successful. Previously untrained teachers and human resources personnel received training and certification, providing them with a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth. The training connected them with the non-formal education allowing them to use their knowledge and skills in accelerated learning programmes. This has helped to ensure sustainability, as UNICEF and Taraqee Foundation hired TEACH trained teachers in TEACH target districts; Pishin and Chagai. They will continue this process in Nushki district too.
Together, these interventions empowered students and teachers alike, and fostered a community of learning and leadership.
As a final note on success - during community awareness sessions about protection and gender-based violence, a girl told us that, as a result of the project’s work, her parents had decided not to marry her off and instead allow her to continue education. The girl was extremely happy with this decision – as were we!
What didn’t – and how we adapted
In terms of transition for the students, we had anticipated mainstreaming a maximum number of girls into formal schools. However, we faced challenges during the mapping process, as the government schools in the area were located far from the home-based classes. This posed significant issues, and we were concerned about what would happen to those children. To address this, we conducted an assessment through a government institution, registered the students, and provided them with certifications, so they can be enrolled in future in any formal schools that were closer or in non-formal education centres.
Being part of the GEC
Being part of large funding programme helped us to establish strong connections and build trust within the community, which was crucial for gaining entry and access to the community for project interventions. This enabled us to engage with a large group of people and access other areas and districts. We also built organisational capacity on different themes such as protection and safeguarding.
When designing and implementing a project, it is crucial to prioritise the establishment of strong collaboration with government departments. This collaboration is a key factor in a project's success. Additionally, flexibility should be incorporated into the project, allowing for adaptable activity implementation and budget allocation.
Moreover, it is imperative to prioritise gender sensitivity and ensure diversity and inclusion throughout the project's execution, promoting equality and fairness. By adhering to these principles, projects can achieve greater effectiveness and address the needs of a diverse population. It is also important to note that Balochistan is geographically scattered and schools are not available or accessible for boys as well. Learning initiatives are also critical for boys and they also need to be considered for education programming in Balochistan.
As we say learning process never stops! Working as Senior Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, I have learned personally during the implementation of overall project period. I really enjoyed working with the community, especially supporting the adolescents’ girls, and training girls, teachers and mentors on safeguarding and empowerment.
You can read the Final Reflections Summary Report here