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Karachi Malir, Sindh
Posted By Minahil Adeel

 As part of the three day training for the ASER data collection phase in Karachi, we went to district Malir. Walking down the narrow streets lined with trash, I felt like I had entered a village and had to remind myself that we were surveying the urban districts of Karachi. After walking for about ten minutes, we were standing in the heart of the town. It was a Friday morning and Kids were walking back from the government school since they had a half-day. The first promising sign that I saw was that there were a lot of girls in the group too. I could see the curiosity burning in their eyes trying to guess what we were there for with our white caps and booklets. We waited for quite a while outside the first house but nobody responded at first. Just as we were leaving, a girl wearing a school uniform went in and got her mother. As we explained the purpose of our visit, the woman was happy to answer our questions and called out her children. She did mention though how her daughterSaliha had called her out to see if we had come to distribute gifts. Once we started the assessment, kids from the neighboring houses gathered aroundSaliha as she read the literacy tool and solved arithmetic questions. They were encouraging Saliha and were trying to read too, eager to be a part of the assessment.We could sense the pride in her mother’s tone as she spoke of Saliha’s accomplishments and how Saliha always comes first in class. Not all the households had such optimistic results though. We learnt of the diversity of schools present in the community. Through this experience, I got a chance to meet some very enthusiastic children, but what was most encouraging was the interest that the parents took in their children’s education and assessments. One of the missions of ASER is to make the community aware of their own problems and to mobilize them. The shortcomings in learning levels seemed to stem not from the fact that children were out of school because their parents were oblivious to the importance of education, but from other factors.It was heartening to see children like Saliha read with confidence and clarity, but it wasmore uplifting to see the mother’s taking part in their children’s education as they encouraged those who were facing difficulties with the assessment.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of ASER Pakistan.
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