Our story starts in 1988. Horrific floods had devastated the Sheikhupura district of Punjab and concerned citizens came together to rebuild the flood victims’ homes. The citizens noticed there was no school. Without education, they thought, children will be deprived of the opportunity to flourish. And so it began. Collecting donations from locals in the village of Iqbal Town, Sheikhupura, the citizens were able to start a school providing free education to the poor. On the first day, 250 children lined up outside the school, unkempt and barely clothed, but curious and eager to learn.
Soon after, villagers from neighbouring communities started approaching CARE, asking for similar schools to be built in their villages. The CARE Foundation started expanding, brick by brick, school by school. After the construction of about a dozen CARE schools, a local government official approached CARE to “adopt” a failing government school, improving the quality of education. It would remain a government school but be managed by CARE. CARE took on the challenge, first investing in improving facilities, and then installing CARE trained teachers and a CARE administrator in the school. The administrator would help teachers, manage teacher attendance and quality, and maintain a regular line of communication between the CARE head office and the school. The government teachers continued to work alongside CARE teachers.
Improvements in the facilities, accountability for teachers and improvement in the quality of education completely turned around the failing government school into a success story. Attendance and test scores improved, and parents rushed to pull their children out of low-cost private schools to the CARE-adopted government school due to its much better quality.
CARE currently educates 230,000 children in 716 schools in most of the populous regions of Pakistan, spreading into all four provinces.