School Expansion in Hafizabad
Association for the Development of Pakistan (ADP) is funding the expansion of a primary school established by the M.H. Sufi Foundation in the village of Kaseese, District Hafizabad, Punjab. The school currently educates approximately 350-400 students up to grade 6. There is strong demand from parents to establish higher grades to the school to allow the existing students in the 6th grade to continue studying at the school. The ADP grant will partially finance the addition of a first floor to the school building, including the completion of two new classrooms, that will immediately accommodate an additional 60 students. The first floor structure will eventually accommodate 13 new classrooms.
The school aims to provide high quality education at an affordable price to the rural population of Kaseese. The school charges approximately Rs. 800–1,000 per student per month in fees, which covers the actual operating costs of the school. Families that cannot afford the fees are considered for scholarships to ensure greater availability of quality education to lower income families.
Update: This project was completed in July 2012. Watch this video for an inside look at how the expansion has changed the lives of students:
The M.H Sufi Foundation was established in 1994 as a charitable not for profit organisation with the objective of promoting and providing quality education to the underprivileged children in the country’s rural areas. Since then the Foundation has established six schools in Hafizabad, which is a relatively backward district in Punjab and has a population of over 1 million. Five more primary schools are under construction at various villages in Hafizabad, based on funding provided by the Italian government under PIDSA.
Currently, the Foundation has a total student strength of 3,334 (around one third are girls). The Foundation’s faculty comprises mostly of female graduates from Hafizabad. About 85% of the Foundation students get first division marks in the provincial board examinations. The Foundation is certified by the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) which certifies credible NPOs in the area of internal governance, financial management & program delivery.
Besides following a subsidized fee structure, the M. H. Sufi Foundation School provides scholarships to deserving students. These scholarships are awarded purely on the basis of need; academic merit is not a mandatory requirement, either for the initial grant or for the continuance of scholarships. Currently, the Foundation is awarding scholarships amounting to almost Rs. two million per year. The scholarships cover 50% of the tuition and other costs. A total of 284 students are presently getting these scholarships.
The Foundation’s objective is to set up a total of 25 schools over the next 5 to 10 years throughout Hafizabad so that quality education is accessible to each child of the district. The Foundation’s vision is to create a critical mass of well-educated people in Hafizabad, who not only serve as an engine for the district’s socioeconomic progress, but also collectively serve as a model for other districts in Punjab and other provinces to emulate. If this is achieved, the Foundation’s efforts would have served as a catalyst in realising the ultimate goal of transforming Pakistan into a balanced and progressive society.
Success for this project will be measured through the near-term utilization of the 2 new classrooms and eventually the continued growth in number of classrooms at this school.
ADP is excited about funding this project since it supports the expansion of a high quality school system in a deserving rural area.
Critical Need: Two-thirds of Pakistan’s 170-million plus population lives in rural areas, where access to quality education is limited. M.H. Sufi schools provide education of a much higher quality than the local government and private school alternatives. The only comparable alternative providing similar quality education is a Beaconhouse school located in the city of Hafizabad, but it charges roughly five times the tuition fees that M.H. Sufi does. Demand for the school’s services continues to remain strong. The school has already reached its capacity in terms of student intake, and shall not be able to provide its existing 6th graders the chance to continue studying in the same school if additional room(s) for Grade 7 are not constructed by March 2012.
Effectiveness: The MH Sufi foundation has demonstrated a strong track record of educating students who have performed exceptionally well academically, with, on average, about 85% of the students in Matric achieving first division results. Moreover, ADP’s site visit and interview with the school’s existing students provided evidence that the quality of education being provided at the school was high.
Cost-efficiency: The construction costs for the expansion of the school were vetted with an architect who has designed and overseen the construction of several schools associated with other non-profit educational institutions, such as The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF). The architect informed us that the projected budget for the school’s expansion is reasonable.
The project team also analyzed the operating costs associated with M.H. Sufi Foundation schools and found out that the operating costs on average per student are roughly in line with other similar non-profit educational institutions.
Sustainability: The Foundation self-funds the operations of its school through the fees it charges it students, thereby ensuring that the new classrooms will continue to operate successfully well beyond the current funding cycle.
Credibility: The Foundation comes highly recommended and has previously received donations from the both the Japanese and Italian governments, reaffirming the credibility of the institution. ADP volunteers were also impressed with the caliber of the team through interactions with the Chairman of the foundation and the school administration.
Q: How can we be assured that the Foundation is actually providing higher quality education?
85% of the students in Matric achieve first division results. ADP’s site visit showed that 6th grade students could read a story in English and Urdu fairly well and complete basic arithmetic. This is substantially better than what similar students at government schools can do. All teachers at the school have a Bachelor’s degree and most of them have been through a 1-year teacher training program at the reputable Ali Institute of Education in Lahore.
Q: At Rs. 800-1000 in monthly fees, is M.H. Sufi serving a deserving segment of the population?
MH Sufi’s focus has been on providing quality education in rural areas of Pakistan. While the foundation serves students from families across a variety of income brackets, it is ADP’s understanding that the typical average income of an M.H. Sufi family would be in the Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000/ month range. This would generally be considered the upper end of low-income or lower end of the middle class in Pakistan.
However, ADP is attracted to this foundation because the quality of education is higher than other alternatives available to parents in this part of Pakistan within this cost range. Teacher qualifications, student attendance rates, strong academic results and the capabilities of 5th graders all point to this. Indirectly, an increase in the educational caliber of these students should drive progress for the whole Hafizabad area.
Q: Are any students turned away because they cannot afford the fees, or are the scholarships sufficient to address any tuition needs?
All academically deserving students (classroom space permitting) are admitted in the school. The financial aspect is handled separately and is not linked to the admission process. However, the Foundation’s schools are not able to serve every family due to limitations on classroom space. This provides a powerful rationale for funding the current project.
We received an update from the MH Sufi Foundation reporting that the project was completed successfully with the classrooms completed earlier this month. More details can be found in the Kaseese Information document shared above.
The MHSF Kaseese Branch School expansion has been slightly delayed. The roof was laid over the past few weeks.
The finishing work on the 2 classrooms will be started on 1st April 2012.
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