Pakistan — Meredith’s Story

Students at Oakville Middle School adopted Mubarika Campus as a light project. Thanks, Oakville!
Spring 2012 project goal: $3,000 / 200 lights

The need for education in Pakistan is dire.  Meredith Gloger, from Harvard University, describes her visit to one memorable Pakistani school.

As an American woman living in Pakistan this past summer, I was accustomed to reading about the troublesome state of affairs in the country and receiving regular warnings about my personal security. Nonetheless, I was eager to venture outside of Islamabad and immerse myself in the “real” Pakistan. I jumped at the opportunity to visit Mubarika Campus, a school located in a poor farming village in the Sialkot district of Punjab province, about 10 kilometers from the border with India. The long drive through remote farmland and dirt roads was well worth it.

Entering the gates of Mubarika Campus was unforgettable. The strong foundation of this modern building promised a future for this underdeveloped, struggling community. Children forgotten by the Pakistani public schools came here to receive a quality education, and a chance to build a future.

Improved education is arguably the most pressing need in Pakistan today. One in ten of the world’s out-of-school children is a Pakistani. Around 63 percent of Pakistan’s 187 million citizens are under the age of 25 and thousands are resorting to extremism in the absence of educational and employment opportunities, threatening the stability of the country.

Nawaz Ahmad Minhas and his wife Salma Akhtar Malik constructed and inaugurated Mubarika Campus in 2006 in response to the country’s widening education deficit. The school itself is situated in a region characterized by socioeconomic deprivation and low educational attainment. More than 90 percent of the female population is illiterate, and a significant proportion of primary school-aged children do not attend school.

More than 700 students are currently enrolled at Mubarika Campus. Among them, girls and boys diligently read their textbooks and confidently recited sentences in English as I observed the classes in session. The young students looked over my way with curiosity and grins on their faces. As a result of the stipends Mubarika provides to needy children to support their education and daily transportation, expense no longer prevents families from sending their children to school in this area.

These achievements notwithstanding, the work of Mubarika Campus is far from over. The Minhas family aims to expand the school to increase student capacity and launch new programs to, among other goals, provide students with vocational training that will equip them with critical life skills. Nawaz and Salma also dream of a day when the school can run on 100 percent solar energy and Mubarika’s students have safe and healthy lighting in their homes to enable the children to study at night. Given Pakistan’s current energy crisis—with some regions of Pakistan experiencing power outages for up to 16 hours per day and more than half of the population lacking access to basic electricity services—the importance of helping Mubarika Campus realize this vision cannot be overstated.

Pakistan’s future rests in the education of its children, particularly girls. Pakistan cannot become more peaceful and prosperous if half of the population is unable to participate in the country’s civic and economic life. Mubarika Campus is a leader in this effort and a true inspiration. With external support, Mubarika Campus can achieve its goal of meeting the educational needs of more young Pakistanis and, in doing so, advance a cause that is essential to long-term development and security in the country.