Syed Bukhari Commitment to the Education of our Poorest Children

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Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) or the “Centre of Education and Consciousness” Public Trust was established in 2002, as a lot underprivileged children in Pakistan do not have access to basic education. 50% of Pakistan’s population is under 18 years old, but only 56% of them are able to attend elementary schools. The rate of school attendance decreases as the age of students increase: only 18% of ten to twelve year-old go to school, while 10% of thirteen to fourteen year-old receive secondary education. Among students who have matriculated in secondary schools, only 3% continue to pursue a college degree.

Many children do not even have access to education facilities because of their geographical position or their family’s socioeconomic background. The statistics show that there are chronic policy problems and inefficiency within the education system, which negatively affects the majority of children in Pakistan. Due to the lack of resources, lack of proper training of teachers, unstable political condition, a lot of children in Pakistan do not enjoy the right to basic education as they deserve. Without proper education, many young people will fall pray to the poverty cycle, while some may choose to join terrorist and militia groups as they lack the knowledge to pursue other careers.

In collaboration with ITA, Mr. Syed Bukhari, a Pakistani immigrant who now resides in Houston, decided to improve the education conditions in Pakistan. Mr. Bukhari founded the Aisha Foundation to provide more funding and resources to ITA’s programs. Currently, their programs include improving the quality and facilities of both primary and secondary schools, providing accelerated programs for underprivileged children, running literacy programs for youths, introducing students to democracy and human rights, granting post-secondary scholarships, and training teachers and principals.

Under the leadership and support of Mr. Syed Bukhari, the Aisha Foundation has provided school libraries with reading materials, and has developed personal and public health and hygiene programs in local schools. This can help lower the mortality rate in the country as students are educated to prevent certain diseases. The Aisha Foundation is also supporting programs on providing education to vulnerable groups, and on policy and advocacy on education sustainability and local governance. It aims to strengthen district planning on education to ensure that more children will have access to education and to achieve one of the U.N. Millennium Goals of Universal Primary Education. Mr. Syed Bukhari’s effort has reached up to 1,000 schools in Pakistan, and many of them have undergone physical renovation under his support.

In addition, the concerted effort of ITA and the Aisha Foundation has led to the development of education programs for drop-outs and displaced children who otherwise will not have any access to education because of their social circumstances. These two organizations also provide support to life-skill classes to equip students with the ability to work so that they will not get involved in any terrorist group and see that as the only way out. The teacher training program run by ITA and the Aisha Foundation will ensure that teachers obtain a diploma or a bachelor’s degree in teaching.

Mr. Syed Bukhari and ITA’s effort has led to great improvement in some of the areas in Pakistan but they would need more support from donors to help change the lives of many other children.

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