A Cultural Journal

    A 'Dream to Education for All'

    Written by: Momina Mindeel - Posted on: April 22, 2016 | Post your comment here Comments | 中文 (Chinese)

    Google Translation: اُردو | 中文

    NGO 'Dream to Education for All', Lahore

    Young teachers from the 'Dream to Education for All' team

    One of the most significant attributes of man is his ability to communicate, with an effective medium to convey his knowledge. Jasir Shahbaz and Yousaf Noor, along with their committed and proactive team, are a testament to this fact. Jasir, currently a junior at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), perceived the idea of equal education for all through the formulation of an intimate connection between the haves and have-nots. "At first, I did not know how to even begin or go about it. I just made a Facebook page, and tried disseminating my idea through it," told Jasir. "This was when my close friends – Yousaf Noor and Ahmed Mujasha – gained interest in the project, and the response we received was overwhelming.”

    ‘Dream to Education For All’, currently operating as a non-governmental organization (NGO) running several top-notch projects, started merely as a Facebook Page back in 2011. Jasir had been informally teaching his house cleaner’s son since the time when he was a child himself. The son grew up to be a wise boy with an entirely different outlook on life. The positive outcome encouraged Jasir, and compelled him to think about extending and consequently pursuing this idea on a bigger scale. With support from his close friends, he began visiting different public schools and colleges in order to get an idea about how these institutions operate in real life. The first real challenge came when Jasir and his friends met four girls in their final year at the Samanabad Degree College for Girls who, due to extremely limited funds, were unable to pay their college dues. "Imagine the horror of being dropped out of college in your final year, just because you weren’t born with privileges," said Jasir, with a hint of melancholy in his voice. "We started collecting funds for them, and that was how the Dream to Education for All formally began functioning."

    NGO 'Dream to Education for All', Lahore

    After the successful completion of their first project, the team gained confidence to move forward. Since then, it has been all about collecting funds, organizing innovative summer camps for underprivileged kids, recruiting volunteers, and equipping the disadvantaged with the immeasurable fortune called knowledge. Owing to the shortage of volunteers working for the organization, Dream to Education for All had to launch a Student Ambassador Programme that entailed the recruitment of zealous individuals from different educational institutes who would collect funds on their behalf. With the expansion of this programme, Jasir’s team collaborated with the Baithak School Network – a private organization aimed at teaching deprived and deserving kids free of cost – and helped in sponsoring 50 children in a year.

    However, this was not enough to satisfy Jasir and his team. Although they were now sponsoring children in various private institutions, they did not find the quality of education to be satisfactory. "Private schools operate like any other business in the city. They are more focused on generating revenues than the provision of quality education. I’m thankful for the amount of respect they give me, but the moment I start talking about collaborating with them for teacher training programs or other similar projects, they turn skeptical. This, of course, has a lot to do with my age as well. Unfortunately, people don’t expect us youngsters to be doing something good without any ulterior motives behind it," said Jasir, while expounding on the daily struggles they go through in order to sustain the organization. "I was 16 years old when we launched the organization. I had to wait until I was 18 in order to get it registered. There were so many opportunities that we couldn’t avail because of my age."

    NGO 'Dream to Education for All', Lahore

    The 'Dream to EFA' team

    "The real problem cropped up when half of my team – who were merely A-level students – started leaving for universities, back in 2013. I thought of recruiting some more volunteers, but we were so busy launching new projects that we failed badly at publicity. People would keep telling me that while our initiatives were highly commendable, we really needed to make more people aware of our work. In this era, if you do not exist on Facebook, you don’t exist in real life – something that makes me sad to this day."

    For the past two years, Dream to Education for All has been organizing Summer Camps for underprivileged children. These are not just regular summer schools. The volunteers go through rigorous training and yearlong preparation before they can begin teaching. The summer camps aim to equip children with the basics of Liberal Arts, Drama, Theatre, Music and Arts. Every Summer Camp has a closing ceremony, where the young students’ talent is showcased through music and drama performances. "I realize this may sound politically incorrect to some, but I think underprivileged children also live in their own bubble, where they perceive people from privileged backgrounds to only be exploitative. All of us need to work together in order to eradicate this mindset," said the ever-enthusiastic Jasir.

    NGO 'Dream to Education for All', Lahore

    Art pieces by students on display at Summer Camp

    Recently, Dream to Education for All has launched their latest project – the ‘Qadam Community School’. It is aimed at breaking the vicious cycle of poverty by educating disadvantaged children, so that they grow up into responsible citizens by being able to earn for themselves and their families. As Jasir says, and I quote, "Believe that you can and you are halfway there."

    NGO 'Dream to Education for All', Lahore

    Jasir Shahbaz, the brains behind 'Dream to EFA'

    If you want to lend a helping hand by giving underprivileged kids the opportunity of a quality education, you can contact the ‘Dream to EFA’ team on the following numbers:

    Jasir Shahbaz: +92 344 4763331
    Talha Ahmad: +92 321 7078177

    Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dreamtoefa/

    Website: http://dreamtoefa.org/

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