Since Pakistan’s inception in 1947, education has never been a fundamental right, rather a privilege amongst the lower income citizens. Today, Pakistan is far from meeting its international education obligations. Atleast, seven million children are not in primary school. Three million children will never see the inside of a classroom. Over 30,000 schools need major repairs or are in a dangerous condition while 21,045 schools have no buildings at all.
Mubarika Campus is located in Marrara Sharif, a small farming village located 10 Kms from Pakistan’s border with India in the Narowal district of Punjab. The area is rampant with poverty where majority of the villagers are subsistence farmers or landless farm labor. Mr. Nadir Minhas (Chairman, Mubarika Trust) and Mr. Sikandar Minhas (Vice-Chairman, Mubarika Trust) were regular visitors to Marrara Sharif as they had family roots in this village. Having spent time with the villagers, they learned about their hardships and the conditions and in particular learned about women’s subjugated roles. Married in early teens, their sole purpose had become to serve and raise families and without any education, they also had limited knowledge of health, religion and essentials of life. To end this cycle of poverty the duo decided that the only way to inspire change in the culture of the village was to educate and empower women. An educated woman would lead to an educated family and gradually to an educated village. With proper education, the young children of Marrara Sharif would have an opportunity to better their lives, as they would find higher paid jobs in nearby cities. In discussions with the villagers, they learnt that the top reasons for not sending their daughters to school were; proximity of the school, affordability, unsafe structure of the existing building, lack of security due to non-existent boundary walls, a strong need for female-only teachers and absence of segregated sanitary facilities for them.
Motivated to bring a positive change to their village, both brothers decided to establish a girls’ high school in the area and in July 2006, a 60,000 sq. feet building was constructed that boasted of modern facilities and amenities for the children. The school’s name honoured their grandmother, Mubarika. Although uneducated herself, she was always a firm believer in empowering women through education. This vision led to the formation of Mubarika Trust and board members were entrusted with the responsibility of the construction, development and sustainability of the Mubarika Campus. Mubarika Campus offers 12 classrooms (32ft. X 24ft.), chemistry lab, physics lab, computer lab, medical dispensary, canteen, guest house for volunteer teachers, cool water dispensers, strong boundary wall, segregated toilets, staff room, sun-lit quad for morning assembly and library.
On August 10th, 2006 the operational management of Mubarika Campus was handed over to The Citizen’s Foundation. TCF is a dynamic, privately- held NGO with an ambition to provide quality education to the underprivileged and currently manage 730 schools in rural Pakistan with over 102, 000 students. Mubarika Campus is their largest school, both in student strength and square footage. As far as the affordibility was concerned, TCF charges a nominal fees to only those who can afford it. The school initially opened with 400 students and in a very short period, Phase II construction was completed and the school’s population grew to 700 students.
Mubarika Campus has achieved what seemed to be impossible in an area like Marrara Sharif, based on donations from generous people. Currently Mubarika Campus only offers classes till fifth grade to boys. Parents prefer segregation after the fifth grade and therefore Mubarika chose to continue till the 10th grade only for girls but land has been purchased for a separate boys building and even the floor plans have been drawn. Their objective is to provide equal opportunity, quality education to all citizens of Marrara Sharif. Mubarika Campus also plan on eventually offering 11th-12th grade and bachelor programs on campus. After 10th grade there are no school systems in that area and parents are very reluctant to send their children, especially girls to study further.
In my opinion, Mubarika Campus is a remarkable effort carried out by these young gentlemen with support from their family. They have successfully managed to achieve a milestone in eradicating illiteracy from their respective rural area in Punjab. This is a humble step towards bringing a revolution in the education sector (rural) in Pakistan. Their small efforts should be considered a motivating factor for people like us, who should follow their footsteps and not rely solely on the government to provide us with good quality education.
Video link: http://tune.pk/video/2239428/Mubarika-Campus