What is Alif Ailaan?
Alif Ailaan is a campaign that aims to make education a top priority for all citizens of Pakistan. Our goal is to ensure that every child in this country—rich or poor, boy or girl, whether they live in a village or a big city—is in school. We work with politicians, education officials, teachers, parents and communities, and civil society organisations to make sure children are enrolled in school, stay in school and receive a good quality education.
Who funds the Alif Ailaan campaign?
Alif Ailaan is a Pakistani campaign funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID). It is run by Pakistanis, for Pakistanis. We have many supporters abroad and at home, including all the major political parties in Pakistan.
Why does the UK want to fund an education campaign in Pakistan?
Pakistan is DFID’s largest bilateral programme of support and education is the cornerstone of the DFID programme in Pakistan. DFID supports similar programmes in a number of developing nations including Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. It does so because the UK is committed to international development through a range of international and multilateral agreements.
What is Alif Ailaan’s relationship with the Pakistan government?
Alif Ailaan encourages all efforts to ensure that education is a national priority for Pakistan. This includes supporting the government’s work to improve education. Many members of the federal and provincial governments are supporters of the campaign and work with us to reform Pakistan’s education system. Alif Ailaan works with all provincial governments and regional administrations, education secretaries and chief ministers, as well as the federal government and Minister for Education.
When did the campaign start and when will it end?
Our campaign was launched in February 2013 and will run until 2018. But the movement to bring quality education to all of Pakistan’s children will not end until every child is in school.
What will the impact of this campaign be?
Our goal is to make sure that every Pakistani child is enrolled in school, stays in school and receives a quality education. Our campaign will talk about the issues that people face in educating their children (baat), create a noise about these issues (shorr) and continue to raise our voice for education until those with the power to make a change begin to feel uncomfortable (takleef)—and this will lead to action (amal).
What are Alif Ailaan’s objectives?
Alif Ailaan has three objectives:
- To make sure that every Pakistani child is in school
- To make sure that the children who are in school do not drop out
- To make sure that every child receives a good quality education.
Is Alif Ailaan an NGO?
Alif Ailaan is not an NGO; it is a campaign. But it works with NGOs, as well as policy and research organisations, across Pakistan to improve the state of education in the country.
Our partners include many of the country’s most reputable civil society organisations and research institutes.
What can Alif Ailaan do for those children who cannot afford to go to school?
The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees free education to every Pakistani child between the age of 5 and 16 (Article 25-A). Alif Ailaan’s job is to make parents aware of this right and help them demand quality education for their children. At the same time, we encourage politicians to deliver on the right to free education for all and work with education providers such as school officials to improve the quality of education.
In other words, our job is to be the voice of Pakistan’s 25 million children who are deprived of their right to a free education of good quality.
What kind of support can you provide to schools?
We bring people together to help them solve problems. Our job is not to provide material goods and services but rather to direct parents, teachers and school administrators towards the relevant authorities and to support them in finding solutions. We can help schools address the issues they face by putting them in touch with education department officials and political representatives in their area.
Can Alif Ailaan help raise awareness about our problems by getting the media involved?
Yes, we can. Tell us your stories and we will help bring them to the attention of the media. You can write to us directly at email@example.com or get in touch with an Alif Ailaan education activist in your area by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can ordinary citizens get in touch with the government and local politicians to voice their concerns?
There are many ways to speak to government officials and elected representatives. Alif Ailaan is here to help you make your voice heard. Our education activists can help you get in touch with elected representatives in your area. We are also in regular contact with local school management committees and education department officials.
Recently we have started to set up parents’ unions in districts across the country. These unions will help parents raise their concerns about education in their areas and support them in finding solutions. You can also write a letter to your local elected representative using our website.
Does Alif Ailaan build boundary walls for schools or provide drinking water?
No, but Alif Ailaan will raise the issue of missing facilities and bring such problems to the attention of the relevant authorities so that solutions can be found. Our job is to help remove the hurdles that stop Pakistani children from going to school and prevent them from receiving a good education.
Why doesn’t Alif Ailaan pay to rehabilitate schools instead of spending money on conferences and seminars?
It is the government’s responsibility to rehabilitate government schools. Our job is to make sure the government fulfils its responsibilities. We do this by helping people raise their voices to demand that the government fulfils its responsibilities, and by assisting governments in whichever way we can.
We do not hold conferences and seminars unless it is for a very specific reason that will benefit the cause of education reform in Pakistan.
If you are not going to give us any money, how are you helping us?
Building schools, hiring teachers and improving education quality is the responsibility of the government. Alif Ailaan supports and encourages the government to fulfil this responsibility. We help by:
- Bringing parents, politicians and education providers together to solve problems collectively
- Making sure parents know and understand that a quality education free of cost is the Constitutional right of every child
- Lobbying politicians and policy makers at the highest levels to make education a national priority
- Building alliances with grassroots organisations and civil society to campaign more effectively for education reform
- Supporting provincial education departments in carrying out activities that promote education for all
- Providing financial support to partner organisations working to address education-related issues
- Conducting research to better understand the problems Pakistan faces in the field of education and to find solutions.
Has anyone run such a campaign before—one that does not build schools or distribute textbooks but instead carries out advocacy for education? Was it successful?
There have been many campaigns to raise awareness about education around the world. Change is a slow process and no campaign can hope to achieve dramatic results overnight.
Alif Ailaan is different because it brings together all those who have a part to play in the education of our children: parents who often face difficult choices when it comes to educating their children; politicians and policy makers who make decisions about how the system of education will operate in the country; and education providers such as teachers, school administrators and education department officials who are responsible for implementing these decisions and managing the education system.
We believe that it is only by engaging and supporting all those who have a stake in education that we will bring about meaningful change and ensure a brighter future for all of Pakistan’s children.
What are you doing to ensure that teachers do their jobs properly?
Alif Ailaan is engaging with teachers across Pakistan in a positive and constructive way. We want to highlight the critically important role that teachers play in society so that parents and children award teachers the respect that they deserve. At the same time, we are working with teachers’ unions to better understand the challenges our teachers face. Similarly, the research we conduct will give a voice to teachers’ concerns, suggest better ways of working, and highlight the training and other needs of teachers so that they can do their jobs more effectively. We are also working with education departments and school administrators in every province to make sure that teachers are trained, supported and monitored.
Does Alif Ailaan provide services like teacher training?
No, but we work actively with teachers and with organisations that conduct teacher training.
Education is not free, so why do you assert that it is?
In April 2010, our lawmakers made changes to the Constitution of Pakistan by passing the Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Act. Under Article 25-A of the 18th Amendment, “free and compulsory education” is the fundamental right of every Pakistani child between the age of 5 and 16.
The Constitution is the most important law of this country and it guarantees a free education to every Pakistani child. Now that you know your rights, tell others.
Some people say that issues like terrorism, floods and poverty are bigger problems for this country. What does Alif Ailaan have to say about this?
Education can help solve these problems. Poverty, unemployment, terrorism and many other challenges we face as a society are related to the fact that we have not focused on education as a national priority.
What is the point of educating my children? Even if my child is educated, he or she is unlikely to find a good job.
Education improves a person’s chances in life and opens up many opportunities. The benefits of sending your child to school may not be apparent overnight but there will be many long-term advantages for your son or daughter, for your family and community, and ultimately for our country as well. Your son or daughter may not find a good job immediately but an educated person will always be more employable than someone without an education. Education gives people the skills they need to help themselves and their families out of poverty and towards a brighter future.
What is the point of putting our children in government schools where the quality of education is not good enough to enable our children to compete with students from private schools?
One of Alif Ailaan’s key objectives is to make sure that the quality of education offered in government schools is of a high standard so that all Pakistani children are able to receive a quality education. But parents also have a part to play by becoming involved in their children’s education, and by putting pressure on their elected representatives to improve the state of schools and the quality of education in their area.
What incentive does a parent have to send their child to school when that child is earning money to support the family?
No country should put its children to work. Children are meant to be in school so that they can learn and grow up to become productive citizens. It is because we have failed to provide education to all Pakistanis that people are trapped in a cycle of poverty. We can break this cycle by sending our children to school so that they have a better future.
Where is Alif Ailaan’s office located?
Our office is located in Islamabad but we work across Pakistan.
In what other parts of Pakistan does Alif Ailaan operate?
We work in all four provinces as well as Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). Alif Ailaan’s education activists work in districts across the country and many of our partners operate throughout Pakistan.
Where are your local offices located?
We do not have regional offices but you can get in touch with an Alif Ailaan education activist in your area by writing to email@example.com.