The word “madrasa” is derived from Arabic and refers to a Muslim school, college, or university that is often part of a mosque (Merriam Webster dictionary). Some madaris (the plural of madrasa) have become extremist, promoting violent practices. DIL schools are not in any way associated with madaris.
More than one-third of Pakistan’s students attend NGO-operated schools. Public government schools are particularly absent in rural regions. Moreover, there are many ghost schools: empty, unused government buildings with no teacher. For these reasons, DIL and other NGOs have stepped in to work with communities and ensure educational opportunities.
The standard government curriculum is taught at all DIL schools, which includes English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Islamiat, Urdu (the national language of Pakistan), and in some cases, the local provincial language. (Islamiat is the basic teachings of Islam and is not related to violent madaris.) However, we enhance the curriculum according to the students’ and schools’ needs. For example, computer science is taught in the higher level schools where we have been able to construct computer labs. Furthermore, DIL staff designs and provides additional curricular resources including specialized training and teaching modules for English, Urdu and math.
Parents are naturally skeptical about teachers from the cities and prefer women from their own community. Since gaining community support is crucial to establishing a school, the pool of teacher candidates is limited. Teachers are thus typically from the same village as the school and are on average twenty-six years of age. DIL requires its teachers to have a minimum qualification of Matriculation (ten years of education). Additionally, due to the low quality of teachers’ own education, many have significant subject knowledge gaps, especially in English and math. Teachers themselves were instructed with rote and recitation techniques. However, now with ongoing professional development and training from DIL and project staff teachers are learning to instruct with activities and interactive group methods that focus on comprehension and conceptual understanding..
Unfortunately, it is not economically feasible for DIL to open only one school. To provide quality education each school requires monitoring and teacher training, which is very expensive. DIL’s tested and most economical model for a project comprises of a geographic cluster of 10 or more schools which costs approximately $45,000 – $50,000 per year (depending upon the number of schools).
In order to respond to this, DIL and its project staff first assess community interest and identify an individual who commands respect in the village. If it exists, a Village Education Committee (VEC) of typically six people is established. The VEC executes various responsibilities, including finding a site for the school and advocating the importance of education to parents and the community. Seeing the benefits of education, neighboring villagers often voluntarily approach the DIL’s project staff to open schools in their villages.
We accept boys if a family has no alternative or if we take over a school that already has boy students. Currently, we maintain a ratio of 68% girls and 32% boys; we are working hard to increase the ratio of girl students to 75%.
The role of the Executive Board is to provide support and oversight while the day-to-day management is done by our offices in Islamabad and Karachi that are staffed by an Executive Director, Regional Project Managers and a Director of Academics. They interact regularly with our partner organizations, organize teacher training, monitor the schools, analyze data and report to the Executive Board on a monthly basis.
More than 17,000 students are enrolled in DIL funded schools.
Professional chartered accountants and CPAs annually audit DIL’s accounts in the US and in Pakistan as well as all DIL related accounts of partner organizations. These are posted on our website www.dil.org