We have been successful in bringing about a change in policy and legislation for child protection and school governance due to our efforts in advocacy. Some of our significant policy achievements include:
Life Skills Based Education or LSBE empowers children to recognise and protect themselves against physical and sexual abuse, disease, poor hygiene, nutritional inequality or insufficiency and other rights violations. Through our advocacy with Aahung, the governments of Sindh and Balochistan have committed to introducing LSBE into their textbooks.
The process of LSBE integration has already started in Sindh with one chapter having been integrated into the Class 7 Social Studies textbook and teachers having been trained to impart LSBE themes. Other themes are to be incorporated in the next round of textbook printing later this year (2019).
Early on at our first adopted government school, we struggled with administrative inefficiences such as having neighbouring classrooms not being able to share teachers, decision-making School Heads and other resources. We identified the administrative nightmare of multiple schools running under one campus as a problem that plagued government schools across Karachi and advocated for such schools to be merged under one administration.
This led to the Sindh Government notifying the School Consolidation Policy, issued in 2011, under which multiple school administrations under one campus or nearby schools were merged into one school under one administration now called a Campus School. The policy applies to all government school in the province and promotes more capable School Heads for Campus Schools, better school management, effective utilisation of resources, easier monitoring and access to the community.
As a result of our advocacy in the media and with parliamentarians, the National Assembly unanimously passed a bill criminalizing corporal punishment in March 2013. The bill forbids the physical abuse of children in educational institutions in Pakistan and upon becoming law states that the penalty for practicing corporal punishment can be a fine up to Rs. 50,000, a one-year prison sentence, or both. Provincial and legislative assemblies in Sindh, KP, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan have further taken measures to make corporal punishment illegal. For example, The Sindh Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Act was passed in 2017.
Previously, the law allowed teachers to use corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure against students 'in good faith' which studies reported as being a major reason for dropouts. In an episode of his television show on education issues Chal Parha, our President Shehzad Roy shared stories of students who suffered permanent physical injuries at the hands of teachers who often mistake corporal punishment for a healthy disciplinary corrective measure. This show awakened the national conversation on eliminating corporal punishment in schools and helped us mobilise lawmakers to pass legislation to achieve the same. It also led to more incidents of corporal punishment being reported on media prompting action by the authorities.
After taking over the school, we put an end to the school grounds being used by private parties for events like weddings which were disruptive to the school environment, and successfully pushed the government to implement the same in schools across the city.