Street children give innovative response to schools closure due to lockdown


Senior students of Pehli Kiran School guide juniors on Covid-19 SOPs, health protocols

Zubair Qureshi

Senior grade students of a local school system ‘Pehli Kiran’ (First Ray) were supported by a non-government education organization Cities for Children (CfC) to deliver playful learning sessions for around 1,000 younger children in Katchi Abadis (urban slums) during the days of lockdown when schools were closed.

These activities included sensitization on COVID-19 protocols as well as literacy and numeracy sessions that ensured they did not lose their connection with education.

The 27-week long activity “Seekho Sikhao Saathi” “Learn, Teach, Fellow” concluded on Saturday with appreciation of the ‘Baray Saathi’ (senior students) who engaged with the “Cholthay Saathi” (junior students) during all the period of lockdown and off-school days.

Madeeha Kiani Madeeha Ansari, Founder of the Cities for Children these students were already enrolled and the teachers supported the Baray Saathi and helped make the groups, but when the pandemic started the problem was that a lot of these kids were at risk of dropping out and starting work at different places.

It’s hard to get a kid back once he is dropped out “Once a child is dropped out, it is hard to get him/her back. And they were worried about all the learning losses that would happen because these kids didn’t have WhatsApp or laptops for digital learning options,” she said.

CfC then stepped in to help Pehli Kiran school system that is running around 10 schools for slums kids and designed this programme for our partner Pehli Kiran.

We plan to support other schools that are struggling to cope with the aftereffects of the pandemic and Pehli Kiran happens to be the first of our partners, she said.

On the concluding day, the success of the innovative Seekho Sikhao Sathi programme was celebrated with street-connected children. Based on a child-to-child early learning model, this involved pairing primary level senior children, or “Baray Sathi” with “Chotay Sathi” at the Montessori level, in order to carry out different playful learning activities.

During the event, children performed roles to demonstrate what the sessions were like. They also had a special song in memoriam of the children who were victims of the Army Public School (APS) tragedy.

Chief Guest Wajiha Qamar, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training shared how she was moved by the Baray Saathis’ dedication, and stated the government’s commitment to reaching out to the out-of-school children through innovative solutions like accelerated learning programmes.

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