Success Story of Alpha Foundation

Introduction:

Like most grass root level organizations, Alpha Foundation (AF) is an organization of the people, for the people and by the people. Established and subsequently registered in the year 2004 under the Societies Registration Act 1860, AF owes it origin to a group of people belonging to Kasur, who wanted to work in a participatory manner with the people of the area, for addressing the problems existing thereat.

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Of the range of issues prevailing in the district, high rate of illiteracy appeared to be the most significant. Consequently the organization, with the financial and technical support of National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), took its first steps in the education sector. What followed was the setting up of 50 Adult Literacy Centers … and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, after almost a decade AF’s mission to widen intellectual vistas and foster enlightenment among the general masses through education continues unabated. However, now added with this is a focus on governance related issues. While the sectorial focus has broadened to some extent, what remains unaltered is the geographical coverage, which from the time of inception till today continues to be on Tehsil/District Kasur. Over the years, interventions carried out by the organization in the said area through financial assistance extended by funding agencies like USAID,NRSP,UNDP, UNDEF, CIDA, World Vision, etc., have enabled it to establish a strong place for itself within the local community. Literacy and community development is vital to any country. Human resource development is focused as the only way where the sustainable development can be achieved. Thus the Alpha Foundation is an umbrella organization of NGOs, which has focused on community development, and the entry point to this activity is literacy. Alpha Foundation is a response not only to a profound crisis, which has rendered the education sector dysfunctional but also a growing realization that the most critical of human entitlements, the right to knowledge systems and quality learning opportunities is being denied to the citizens of Pakistan. The work of Alpha Foundation started in 2001 with Non-formal Education Centers. The Foundation works on two parallel strands simultaneously. ⦁ At the level of public sector institutions, through physical presence and improvement through practice. ⦁ At the level of policy and systemic change, working with public sector to build their capacity to improve systems Vision “To develop societal modernization and optimistic approach among the humans through exalted standards of education” Mission To widen the educational and intellectual vistas and foster enlightenment among the general masses through standardized & modernized contemporary education with equally reciprocal contribution of the both genders and enabling them to achieve professional excellence, glory and expertise Philosophy ⦁ Maximum Utilization of Local Resources ⦁ Institutional Development ⦁ Participatory Approach ⦁ Capacity Building ⦁ Mobilization of Women Objectives of the Foundation The objectives of the Foundation are as follows: 1. To spread literacy, a strong resource base at the Provincial level is needed. With the help of different grant programs, centers at each divisional, then district, then Tehsil and finally at Village level. Targeting to have resource center at district level with local NGOs to make itself sustaining. 2. To set up appropriate institutional arrangements to research, explore, experiment and implement quality alternatives committed to educational excellence in a contemporary global setting 3. To undertake institutional strengthening of public, private sector and community based organizations for managing change and achieving quality education services 4. To alleviate resource bottlenecks which prevent individuals and/or organizations from maximizing potential for benefiting society as a collective entity 5. To develop and promote an information and communications system to access the latest global trends in education for influencing practice, policy and reform processes within the country context To cultivate norms of participation and development through sound education processes for the establishment and growth of a civil society, which is based on universal human rights PROJECT In October 2012 Alpha Foundation (AF) undertook a 30-month long intervention aimed at addressing the issue of child labor in the tanning industry based in Union Council Kasur 5 & 6 by: ⦁ Providing primary level education to 500 children of the ages 5-14 years working in the industry through establishment and operation of 12 Non Formal Education (NFE) Centers; and ⦁ Conducting a policy advocacy campaign aimed at assisting the government in combating the issue of child labor in the area through the provision of an action plan By the end of project the Foundation had been successful in: ⦁ Enrolling 559 children, of which only 94 dropped out while the remaining 465 went on to complete primary education ⦁ These 465 children (187 boys, 278 girls) have been mainstreamed either into formal government schools or vocational training centers ⦁ Conducting a Research Study on the subject of child labor, and ⦁ Launching a Policy Advocacy Campaign comprising of 02 Policy Dialogues, 04 Policy Seminars, and 01 Media Campaign Inspired by the success of the said intervention, AF has now proposed replicating the same design, albeit with a few minor alterations, in UCs 6,7,8,9 of Tehsil Kasur City where due to low socio-economic status of resident population, child labor I its many forms abounds, and of these those associated with children’s involvement in the tanning and shoe industry are the most widespread. ⦁ OBJECTIVES OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT To address the issue of child labor in the tanning & shoe industry based in Union Council Kasur 6, 7, 8 and 9 by: ⦁ Providing functional literacy to 800 working girls with ages ranging from 09-16 years, through establishment and operation of 04 Literacy Centers; ⦁ Providing primary level education to 400 children with ages ranging from 05-14 years, through establishment and operation of 08 Education Centers; and Conducting 02 Policy Seminars aimed at addressing the issue of child labor at the policy & planning level.

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“I had been sewing over 30 shoe vamps daily, but now I sew eight shoe vamps daily and give more time to study because now I have an opportunity to acquire quality education free of cost and I want to use this chance to brighten my future”, shared Amna.Aman Allah Ditta has experienced a revolution. She has become a literate person from illiterate being.

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Today, she is ready to participate in the 5th grade examination. Since 2012, USAID Small Grants and Ambassador's Fund Program funded initiative has enabled 500 out-of-school children to accomplish primary education in 3-years. The last 1000 days of Amna’s life have been revolutionary, for in these days, she has finally started getting education. She has learnt how to read and write and can now speak several sentences in English language. She has also acquired considerable knowledge of basic concepts of Science and Mathematics. Amna, 13, has achieved these life changing milestones with the help of USAID. “Learning is good. I want to keep on learning. It has given me the ability to reflect,” Amna shared thoughtfully. Situated in Union Council 6 of District Kasur, Amna’s family survives on meager resources. Her father works in a local restaurant and does not earn much.  From her earliest days she remembers seeing her mother sewing vamps, the upper portion of a leather shoe.  To assist her mother she also started sewing shoes from an early age.  Since being the eldest among her siblings, all she could think of was of assisting her parents so that they can have sufficient food. These reasons also prevented her from gaining formal education. Unfortunately, the hands that should have held books and pencils became used to handling needle and shoes. This was the tragedy of Amna’s life and like her of many other children of District Kasur. Majority of children from marginalized families miss schools and work in leather tanneries to support their families. To fight this, USAID Small Grants Program through Alpha Foundation has provided an opportunity to 500 out-of-school children including Amna to study. Like most grass root level organizations, Alpha Foundation (AF) is an organization of the people, for the people and by the people. Established and subsequently registered in the year 2004 under the Societies Registration Act 1860, AF owes it origin to a group of people belonging to Kasur, who wanted to work in a participatory manner with the people of the area, for addressing the problems existing thereat. Under the grant, 12 non-formal educations centers have been set up in Union Councils 5 & 6 of District Kasur.  Children have been taught specially designed syllabus for over a period of three years thereby, equipping them to pass the 5th grade examination. . In the upcoming days, Amna envisions adopting the nursing profession. She intends to acquire a diploma in nursing after completing her secondary education. “I want to be a nurse for they are caring,”