Noor Model Schools for Boys and Girls
The Abaseen Foundation established the Noor Model School (NMS) in January 2009, using abandoned school buildings constructed for Afghan refugees in the early nineties in the Merra Baghbanan area. The school is situated in the brick kiln area 35km south of Peshawar (there are over 700 brick kilns around Peshawar) where there was no government provision for health and education.
Baghbanan is a brick kiln community of 5,000 households consisting of Afghan refugees, internally displaced people, and the host population. Most of the families are refugees from Afghanistan working as indentured labourers on the brick kilns. Already a disadvantaged minority, poverty and child labour are linked with poor health and reduced life expectancy, creating a perpetual cycle. They live in chronic rural poverty, with many households subsisting on an income of less than 1 US dollar per day. Children are born into bonded labour (recognised as a modern form of slavery) and start work on the brick kilns from an early age, and have limited life trajectories – 68% of the children are severely malnourished, and the average life expectancy is only 38 years. Girls typically marry in their early teens and have multiple pregnancies with short birth spacing – the average family size is 14. In these circumstances the intergenerational transfer of poverty is inevitable.
The NMS project was set up to break this cycle by establishing alternatives and enabling children of poor families to have options for a different future through education and social change. Education for the girls is crucial, both because female literacy is so low (between 3% and 8%) but also because of the positive effects on the wider community. Women tend to influence the health and well-being of the family and the wider community due to their role in feeding the family, housekeeping and childcare.
Through education Abaseen Foundation gives these families hope – we believe that if one educated child gains employment, they take the whole family away from the brick kiln and out of severe poverty.
Objectives of the NMS school
- To enrol and educate the children of primary school age
- To seek to prevent child labour by the provision of affordable quality education
- To create an environment in the area which sees education as a way out of the poverty trap
- To engage families through social awareness campaigns to understand the importance of education
- To improve the living standards of the communities through education
- To reduce malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies in the children – a significant factor in stunting – by the provision of one meal a day.
There are currently 375 students in the school, a large percentage being girls who traditionally would not normally receive any schooling. The school provides education at primary level with the arrangement to transfer to MGM and BGM schools for further secondary-level education. The children are taught the government curriculum and are provided government text books free of charge.
These schools are mainly supported by donations from donors in the UK through our Sponsor a Child Scheme and the families pay a nominal community contribution to have ownership of the project. The children are provided with a hot lunch every day by a group of individuals in the UK through our Feed a Child Scheme. This is very necessary source of food by these children.