Returning to School After Five Years
Amina*, 13, lives in a small village of Pakistan, and is the youngest of three children. Her father works as the gatekeeper of the local primary school, and is also a tenant farmer. Her mother passed away when Amina was five.
Amina dropped out of school five years ago, but the reason was not because of bad grades or a lack of interest. When she was in the 2nd grade, she was physically punished by her teacher. So serious was the abuse that she had broken ribs, and had to be hospitalised for a month.
Suprisingly, Amina wanted to return to school after her recovery, but her father – furious at the abuse – would have none of it. He forbade her from returning to school. She then started helping out with the household chores and abandoned her dream of one day becoming a teacher.
In 2015, about five years later, CHAON*, a project funded by the IKEA foundation, set up two child rights club, one for boys and another for girls, in her village. Amina started participating in the activities of the girls’ club. In one of the sessions, she expressed her strong desire to continue her education.
As luck would have it, the Project also included an education component in the form of an accelerated learning centre (ALC). The Centre offers children who dropped out of school, a chance to complete their primary education (5th grade).
The Project team met with Amina's father, told him about the accelerated learning program, and tried to convince him to let her attend classes there. They assured him that teachers at the Centre were not allowed to punish students.
Finally, he gave in and agreed to let Amina attend classes at the Centre. She joined ALC and resumed her education after a break of five years. At the learning centre, teacher took an interactive approach to teaching, which made the course work more interesting for students.
Amina attends the classes regularly, and expects to pass the 5th grade next year.
“I wanted to be a teacher, but I had to leave school because our teacher slapped us, pinched us and hit us with a stick. I was scared all the time. I sometimes cried when I saw my books. But the accelerated learning centre is different. I enjoy learning and am not scared of my teachers.” – Amina, 13 years, Puno Godhoro
*Children Action Against Oppression and Neglect (CHAON)
*Name changed for protection purposes