Expansion of a Middle School in Kalaske
The Association for the Development of Pakistan has approved funding for the construction of an all girls’ middle school at the Amir Public School (APS), located in Kalaske, a village in the Gujranwala District. The expansion will add three classrooms for grades 6, 7, and 8 to the existing primary school, which has been in existence since 1980. ADP will also fund the training and salaries for three additional teachers for the first academic year, after which APS will cover ongoing operating costs.
The middle school will provide a quality, low cost alternative to parents who are uncomfortable sending their daughters to the existing schools in the area, which are often lower quality as well as being co-education. The expansion will also increase APS enrollment by 60 to 90 students on a current base of 210 students. A local survey conducted by APS suggests strong demand for the middle school from parents.
This is our second project with Amir Public School. In January 2011, ADP funded the construction of a preschool that currently caters to over 40 students.
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Amir Public School (APS) is a project of Nia Ujala (New Light), a registered nonprofit with expertise in education. Nia Ujala was registered specifically to support APS, which was established in 1980. The idea was to enable the board members to present the school as an organized and non-profit making organization when seeking donations from individuals and different NGOs. The staff is divided between board members and officers residing both inside and outside Pakistan; interestingly, one of the executive board members, Amir Davis, studied in the school himself when it was originally created.
Critical need: Our diligence indicated a high dropout rate for girls after attending primary school at APS, as well as other schools in the area. We believe an all girls’ school will increase female enrollment rates in middle school in the villages. Eventually, we believe this is a step towards further expansion into a high school as well.
Social return: Development research consistently suggests a high ROI on female education. An extra year of secondary education for girls can increase eventual wages by 15-25% and research suggests a consistent relationship between women’s education and lower infant mortality and improved child health.
Measurability: While the long-term impact of education is hard to measure on an individual project of this scale, we feel comfortable that the quality of the inputs and the learning outcomes at graduation offer a good gauge of eventual impact. We plan to track student enrollment, student and teacher attendance rates, graduation rates, secondary enrollment rates as well as performance on tests at the end of each grade level.
Sustainability: The school is funded by tuition fees as well as donations raised by Nia Ujala. After the first year, APS will need to raise an additional Rs. 230,000 each year through donations to cover operating costs. Based on their current fundraising of over Rs. 2 million per annum and their plan going forward, we feel comfortable that the school will be able to sustain its operations.
Credibility: Amir Public School is a credible organization with a dedicated staff and outstanding local reputation.
APS has met and exceeded the requirements set for their preschool project, which ADP also funded. Their student attendance rates have increased in the past three years, reaching 90% in 2011, which is 10% higher than the average government school. APS averages a 98-99% teacher attendance rate and have reported a 100% attendance rate so far for 2012 while government schools report an average of 87%. Additionally, APS exceeded the minimum enrollment expectations for their new preschool and have reached capacity, with the student population equally divided between girls and boys.
APS has a dedicated relationship with parents and has a strong reputation in the local community. The school holds monthly community meetings in which parents can attend and speak directly with the head teacher. They also provide a summer camp to keep the children engaged during the summer vacations.
A recent survey revealed that out of 50 parents interviewed, 36 plan to send their children to the new APS middle school. Six of these students have recently quit their education, six are in other local private schools, and 24 are in government schools. Parents noted that it is the lowest fee-based private school in the area with the highest quality. Since APS has a dedicated staff fundraising year round in order to support operating costs, students who cannot afford the fee are able to attend for free.
Construction is set to begin at the end of December is expected to be completed by the end of January. Amir Public School will concurrently interview new teachers and begin collecting applications for the new school year that begins in the spring of 2013. The school will share results on:
- student attendance,
- student grades,
- teacher qualifications, and
- graduation and high school enrollment rates (long-term)
1. Is there enough demand in the locality to add classes six to eight?
Yes, the team spent a lot of team researching this issue. Several factors ultimately helped us gain comfort.
First, from our site visit we confirmed the strong academic reputation of the school and the desire of parents to send their children to APS instead of alternative schools. Second, we asked the school to conduct a local survey which provided strong support to APS’s ability to fill at least fifteen students to their classes.
Additionally, APS’s roadmap of developing a high school down the road means that students will be able to complete their schooling at one school. This is one issue that the school currently faces.
2. How sustainable is the school’s funding?
Amir, APS’s founder and primary fundraiser, has a long history of sustained fundraising. Throughout the history of APS, Amir has consistently been able to increase fundraising by adding several new initiatives (for example cricket games, dinners, and employer donations).
After conducting extensive diligence on the historical fundraising sources, we were able to gain comfort on Amir’s ability to continue to grow the fundraising effort as well as diversify it.
Additionally, APS has been able to successfully increase student fees, and this is becoming an increasing source of the school’s income. We are confident that once the school adds further scale, a large part of the ongoing expenditures will be able to be sustained by the student fees. Despite the increase in student fees, it is still among the lowest tuition fees in the area.
3. What is the quality of education at the school?
Although we were not able to benchmark the school against other local schools in terms of metrics, our site visit provided several pieces of anecdotal evidence that affirmed the school’s reputation as a premier school in the area, in terms of academic reputation. Many parents spoke extremely highly of APS. We also learned of some students attending APS, even though there were other schools that were closer for them.
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