Interview by : Yousaf Ajab Baloch
Sumeera Mehboob Belongs to Khuzdar district. She has more than a decade professional experience in community development, strengthening civil society, disaster risk management, gender based violence, quantitative research, policy and project support, human resource management and human source development along with the managerial skills.
She has extensive national exposure through working with different cultural groups in addressing environmental degradation concerns. She is established school of scholars in 2015, with chief aim for promoting girls education. Balochistan Point team conducted an exclusive with Sumeera Mehboob for its readers.
Balochistan Point: What was the motive behind founding School of scholars?
Sumeera Mehboob : Science, childhood I have pre-development mental inclination to develop a sustainable society where conmen people live a good life. Therefore, the objective was to attain respectable position in family and society being a female. Truly, for me studying was an uphill task in tribal society, even the expression of legitimate rights was encountered with objections. No doubt, the attainment of aim rests in the quality education which was obsolete and against the nature of children and without understanding the lesion children are forced to cram. Resultantly the school was a frustrating place for me .It did not mean that I did not want to study but I was not fit in the system .So, I was not in the good books of teachers. Moreover, with great difficulty I passed the metric then I realized that it was happening to everyone and I was not the only target .So I comprehended that the faulty education system was gnawing.
Having seen the needs of the time and poor education system, I started thinking to establish a child friendly education system which builds generation of great research oriented minds. I thought this to be foundation stone of producing future leaders because the current system of schooling cannot fulfill the requirements.
I belong to the rural area of Balochistan, So, I decided to establish my school in area where the children of down trodden class should take the benefit .That will help them to come into the mainstream of the all walks of life.
What methods of teaching are applied in the school for teaching students?
Multiple teaching methods are adopted which is called mentoring approach. Which develops a understanding between teacher and students for instance ,the teacher not only teaches but also learn from students .The course is not only limited to lecture and books but also includes, audios ,video lesions, role plays , group works ,reflections ,games etc, to make the learning process practical. Moreover ,Library , internet, is used to inculcate the seeds of research based education .It will broaden the world view of the children and teachers instead of home work, the class timing is utilized up to the hilt to improve the education standers .Mainly because ,the parents of these children are illiterate.
Where did you learn these methods of teaching?
I learned this method from multiple areas .Since 2004 I am working with different organizations on educational projects, it also consists of childhood experiences, research on educational system and from US organizations. Being a woman I am more sensitive to the children and want to them learn and lead a meaning full life. Therefore, quality education is only way out.
Who are the beneficiaries being taught in this school and what is the criterion for selection of these students?
The doors of school are opened for all segments of society. Our students from all family backgrounds but most of them are from poor families. School admission criteria is simple, we need parents willingness and support and their address and CNIC.
What are the financial sources to run this school?
Being a master trainer and consultant I give trainings to multiple organizations on different topics and arrange the salary of teachers. Meanwhile school stationary and furniture’s are arranged by the support of my friends, family members and some education lover organizations. A nominal fee is taken from students to give building rent and utility bills of school.
What specialty is in your schools that attracts learners such as any library etc?
Actuallu this is the first private girl’s school of district in which along study girl’s rights awareness is also given and there is no gape between teacher and student. The sitting arrangement is too different and flexible every day kids can sit in a different way. The basic academic facilities are fulfilled in the school like hand washing places, 1st aid facility, play area etc.
Along with academic education, personality developments of children are focused and students are encouraged to share their ideas and practice them. No home work is given in early classes. Class work is policy because most of parents are not literate. And in supervision of teachers they can learn in proper way.
Monthly teachers training and Teachers performance evaluation is part of policy. The school has kid’s first functional library of Khuzdar at school. Every teacher has the facility of laptops to proper lecture with the help of Google and YouTube. Teachers motivate parents and students to submit their used books, uniforms, bags for other students of the coming year. Most important parents own school and donate things to school kitchen and rooms for support of school.
Do you think your this initiative can bring a change or how different do you find these students in their learning?
In last three year, there are multiple case studies where our teachers proved their mettle .Not only education standards of students have improved but also enhanced their confidence and leadership qualities. Such as hand washing has become part of their daily practice, sharing of their food and things with their friends, the students have become sensitive about themselves and others rights. Moreover, parents excepted change in their children that they are very excited to go their school and take interest in their assignments .They don’t need to remind their kids for reading or completing their work .
What difficulties are you facing while running this school?
The parents of new coming students do not understand my philosophy of education, they want burden of homework and cramming (repetition of lesions like a parrot) as we don’t have home work in early classes. We are focused on personality development, confidence building and make understand the kid that why she is getting education, why she needs to get education .but after few months they except our system and support me.
Second more important that it is time to connect my students with institutions, organizations and other supports and extra curriculum activities not only in Khuzdar level even on provinces, national and international level for improving their knowledge through exposure but still very few parents are willing and supporting me but every child has a different God gifted skills which can be her identity and profession. The parents have to trust our system and trust in their daughters that can make the change in the world.
What have been your efforts in Khuzdar or in Balochistan for gender equity or empowering women?
Being daughter of Balochistan my vision is to see my people educated and happy for this my all efforts are for empowering women /girls through education. For last 10 years I served in communities of Balochistan not only in Khuzdar and worked with more than women groups ,with thousands of women and built their capacity on their personal and social issues such as women rights ,health & hygiene , girls education and enterprise development and more. I have guided hundreds of students regarding peace for social harmony, youth rights, youth policies, role of youth in community development and youth as ambassador of societies.
Moreover, my grate contribution is my school for Khuzdar and Balochistan that whatever I learned and explored in my professional and personal life I want to share these all skills and knowledge with my coming generation and facilitating them that whatever I faced in this journey they should not repeat it. I want to bring those all facilities for them which are too expensive in other cities or not accessible for them at local level .So I am trying to give low cost quality education.
Moreover over in same building of our school I started classes for street children who never have never been to school or they have another issue and are unable to continue their education so I support them to be literate and make easy their lives.
So ,I believe that we cannot end every work but we can take good initiatives for benefit of our people ,nation and for betterment of world so being an individual I am contributing whatever I can do in my capacity but I need support of my people who can be good support to sustain my initiatives
Published in The Balochistan Point on January 20,2018