Today is International Literacy Day. Organizations and people across the world are reiterating their commitment to educate young children and enable them with (at least the basic) reading, writing and mathematical skills. For us at TEACH – Educational HRD, the day is about affirming the values on which this organization was founded. It’s simple: Teach the teachers to teach better and empower the teachers to enable their students to be empowered learners.
The last few months have taught us that nothing is impossible. When teachers in Azad Kashmir contacted me to work with them, I panicked. We need money, grants, maybe? Do we ask people for help with resources? How much of my own money do I put in? I laugh at it now, because I know better. For real change, you just need the will. You just need to get it started. I was in Dhirkot, at the schools, within a few weeks. The organization did not take any money from any one. (We did borrow cameras!) Our needs-assessment was deliberately kept low cost and simple. The travel plans basic – our accommodation taken care of by teachers who wanted us to work with them, at their homes.
When I first walked in to the one-room school that housed 6 grades with just two teachers, no electric connection, my work was not just about making money. As well-educated, well-trained individuals, we owed a responsibility to the people who did not have the same opportunities. Today, I am very proud to say that every single individual in team TEACH agrees.
So today, I would like to announce, that while we reiterate our commitment to quality education for all, we will continue to provide schools and teachers in underprivileged circumstances our support, either free of cost or at the token fee. We don’t believe that education is about fancy resources alone. It is about a love for learning, a passion for growing that teachers can instill in their students without using expensive gadgets and posh stationery.
Over the next few months, we will be formalizing our Corporate Social Responsibility program. I am very excited to say that Sara Naeem, one of the trainers for the Teacher Enrichment Workshops in Islamabad (August 2015), has taken on this task with a fervor I wish all teachers had. At the same time, Umair Qureshi, our primary training consultant, is working diligently on developing global linkages between teachers of all sorts of backgrounds. In October, we will be launching a program with Dream to Education for All, an NGO working to improve education in some of the shabbiest schools in Lahore. We will also be returning to Dhirkot for our first round of formal training.
The way we anticipate it, we will need your help! If you know of schools who will allow us to work with their teachers, let us know. If you know of teachers who will be willing to share this responsibility with us, give us a shout. At some point soon, we will also call for volunteers (graphic designers, photographers, translators, researchers). Help us out then, too.
Today, I am proud to announce, that TEACH – Educational HRD is not just one person’s dream. It is an ambition shared by many – it is a thought that extends beyond superficial distinctions and into the heart of what matters the most for progress and development: education.
May we do better than we ever imagined. Ameen.