Promoting quality education for all.

Digital Street School and the Impacts of COVID-19

Muhammad Ahmad, Vice Chairman MAPS, 
Digital Street School and the Impacts of COVID-19

An estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 are out-of-school in Pakistan. At present, Pakistan has the world's second-highest number of out-of-school children (OOSC), representing 44 percent of the total population in this age group. Punjab has the dubious distinction of having the highest average literacy rate in Pakistan of 61%, as it remains lop-sided with deep pockets of illiteracy. A closer examination shows that the provincial average does not tell the complete story and masks the poor situation in the southern districts of the province. In Rahim Yar Khan District, only one in three people is literate.

As change-makers, MAPS stepped in and started working in 2012 in the education sector, specifically on the significance of primary education. MAPS have organized hundreds of workshops, seminars and community awareness sessions on education, children enrollment and eradication of child labor. MAPS have been running a project from 2019 in which we provide opportunities for child labors to get educated and attend school. The project our team has been working on is focusing on the street children, named as “Digital Street School” supported by 260by26 that aims to identify victims of child labor who aren’t able to attend school and learn via a typical schooling system. We have established a temporary school camp where we’ve engaged the out of school children & community and taught them with primary educations via digital learning system (i.e. Tablets, Laptops, Multimedia).

As output, we have gathered data of more than 200 out of school children in the first two weeks of the project. Then we did shortlisting the ones depending upon their age, willingness and motivation to join school. Initially, we’ve identified 50 children and they have gone through different training, ethics and art class with action-packed activities to motivate them for their enrollment into schools. Successfully, MAPS have enrolled 46 children into schools and provided them with Uniform, Stationery accessories, etc. They are now completing their education in Government-funded schools.

COVID-19 impact on Education

The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis. Many countries have (rightly) made decision to close schools, colleges and universities. The severe short-term disruption is felt by many families around the world: homeschooling is not only a massive shock to parents’ productivity but also to children’s social life and learning. Teaching is moving online, on an untested and unprecedented scale. Student assessments are also moving online, with a lot of trial and error and uncertainty for everyone. Many assessments have simply been canceled. Importantly, these interruptions will not just be a short-term issue, but can also have long-term consequences for the affected cohorts and are likely to increase inequality.

How DSS is affected

Going to school is the best public policy tool available to raise skills. Youth of South Punjab comprises of less skill set and are unempowered at some extent then rest of Pakistan’s youth, so school time can be fun and can play a major role in raising social skills and social awareness, from an economic point of view the primary point of being in school is that it increases a child’s ability. Even a relatively short time in school does this; even a relatively short period of missed school will have consequences for skill growth. The solo purpose of MAPS was to make our youth empowered and Digital Street School was focusing on the eradication of child labor and to make sure that unprivileged children must get regular education. So, children who were part of Digital Street School are affected and our project also comes in the radius of its impact.

Learn more about MAPS projects here.

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