The Citizens Foundation provides free schooling for 280,000 less-privileged students
Dubai: Around 500 Pakistani professionals, business and community leaders attended a gala event in Dubai on Friday in support of The Citizens Foundation (TCF), a leading non-governmental organisation (NGO) providing free education to less-privileged Pakistani youth.
Set up in 1995 by a group of Pakistanis “who wanted to bring about positive social change through education”, TCF is now operating 1,833 school units across 63 districts in Pakistan. TCF has an enrolment of around 280,000 students and it is said to be the largest private employer of women in Pakistan with 13,000 teachers and school principals.
Recently, TCF was featured as one of the top 25 projects worldwide at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme, “Small Steps, Big Leaps’, Solutions for Sustainable Impact’.”
TCF in the UAE was the first TCF international chapter established in 2004. TCF – UAE has a support community and donors here have built more 80 schools and are currently supporting more than 100 TCF schooling units.
The ‘Annual Supporters Conference by TCF UAE was attended by the First Lady of Pakistan, Samina Alvi; Mike Nithavrianakis, British Deputy High Commissioner in Karachi and Trade Director for Pakistan; Afzaal Mahmood, Ambassador of Pakistan to UAE; Hassan Afzal Khan, Consul General of Pakistan in Dubai; and members of the International Humanitarian City (IHC), Dubai.
At the event, two TCF alumni, Muskan Amjad and Bakhat Noor, shared their story of struggles and triumph and how education helped them find hope and purpose in life.
Amjad, whose father is a rickshaw driver, studied at the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi. She said: “At one point in our life, I wanted to work and help support my family instead of studying, but my father reminded me that education is the only way to improve our lives, so I must focus on that. Now, I am so glad that I can finally help support my family financially’
Noor, meanwhile, pursued a Master’s degree in Petroleum Geology and is now working as a principal in a TCF school. She said: “It was not a norm in our family for girls to pursue education. But Abu [my father] was the first one to break that norm. He never differentiated between me and my brothers and always provided us with equal opportunities.”
Ateed Riaz, TCF founder director, said: “Lack of education remains one of the biggest problems in Pakistan that needs to be solved. It is only through equal educational opportunities that we can hope to create a more balanced and enlightened society”.
He added: “TCF was formed 27 years ago to make quality education available in the remotest locations of Pakistan. I have had the good fortune of seeing the impact of education on individuals, families and even communities, and it is extremely satisfying to see this positive change. Education is a great equaliser and the most effective way of removing the class divide.”
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