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Uzma's Leap into Success

Located in Hayeerabad, on Lab Road, the early childhood development centre (ECD) established by Uzma Javaid meets the ECD standards of cleanliness and quality of education. The rented building is painted and contains a generator worth 15,000 Rupees. The son of a 7 grade government officer is also enrolled in this centre along with 19 other students which is a jewel in its crown. This 5-month-old centre owes its success to the fountainhead, Uzma.

At thirty, Uzma is mother of two and holds a B.A. degree. She is a novice entrepreneur who began her journey to provide financial support to her husband. Now, a monthly income of Rs. 2,750 from her ECD center assists in taking care of her family. Despite cultural inhibitions to female employment, Uzma took the opportunity to ease the financial burden on her husband who was diagnosed with heart disease. Uzma recognizes the support of her family as reason behind the sprouting of her centre into a bud.

However, her eagerness, talent and hardwork is reflected in her daily act of updating the schedule at centre. If all the entrepreneurs in district Khusab were to be given grades on their performance, Uzma Javaid would secure the highest place due to her talent. 

 

Epitome of Determination

42 years old Zahida Bibi is a loving mother of three, a compassionate wife, a caring daughter-in-law and a successful entrepreneur of an early childhood development centre, District Khushaab. v

Zahida always dreamed to be more than a home maker by providing financial assistance to her husband, a retiree from Rangers, whose pension was the only source of income for family of six. In 2004, she took a teaching job in a primary school which lasted four months only, leaving her with an ever increasing desire to achieve financial independence. An encounter with a poster, of Parwaan Preschool: A School Readiness Program, prompted Zahida to register in the organization which would prove to be a stepping stone in the pursuit of her dream of playing the role of a bread winner, acquiring financial independence, and delivering value in life. However, this journey could not have been possible without the unlimited support of her husband who took up the responsibility of cooking for the family while she was away.

Situated in the posh block 6 of Jauharabad, the Parwaan Preschool ECD Centre led by Zahida Bibi has no parallels in the quality of lesson delivery and its environment. 

The center is run in two shifts comprising of 18 children in the morning and 15 in the evening. Despite being surrounded by two private schools with free preschool classes, her center has an expectedly positive response from the community with a total enrollment of 33. The immediate progress can be attributed to Zahida Bibi’s investment of 41,000 in a play area, stationery and white board, furniture, and a generator. This move has captured the trust and support of the parents, thus, an acceptance of the program as sustainable which is reflected by the student enrollment number. 

 The success of this five-month young organization is linked to Zahida Bibi’s persistent determination and confidence who always had an urge “to do something valuable in life”. The ECD center is a promising platform which gives her an opportunity to earn profit as well as serve the community. As a social entrepreneur, Zahida has acquired free of cost training as a facilitator and acumen required for setting a business of her own. Her interpersonal skills have witnessed a boost of self-confidence that has led her to indulge in other economic activities such as tutoring from home. With an income of Rs. 6,800 as of January, the ECD center has been a source of financial independence and personal growth for Zahida. She describes the training as an eye-opening experience which not only equipped her with entrepreneurial and facilitator skills but also evolved her into a new Zahida Parveen.

She believes, “In order to have a sense of accomplishment, you need to do something hard and difficult first. If you won a lottery, you would feel great, but you probably wouldn’t feel a sense of accomplishment.”

 Self-Belief : The Road To Success

The youngest entrepreneur, Amna Bibi, among the group of 20 entrepreneurs in the Parwaan Preschool – A School Readiness Programme Islamabad chapter, has adhered quiet easily in her new role as an Early Childhood Development (ECD)social entrepreneur. The once shy girl beams as she speaks confidently about her newly opened ECD center in Bara Kahu Islamabad. Being a part time tutor for primary level children, Amna always aspired to teach young ones in their early years due to her affection for them. Therefore, it was no surprise for Amna’s family when she decided to apply for entrepreneurial training in ECD concepts under Parwaan Preschool – A School Readiness Programme.

Amna had just given her academic examination when her sister told her about the Parwaan training. In a leap of faith, Amna took the test and appeared in the interview and was pleasantly surprised when she was selected. Timid by nature, Amna struggled initially with the amount of public speaking and group activities she had to do in the training.

“Due to my tutorship experience, I am good with one on one interaction with children but our master trainers demonstrated exactly how we are supposed to engage children.”

Being the youngest of the lot, her lack of substantial teaching experience among individuals who already had years of teaching experience to their credit, made it difficult for Amna initially to understand ECD concepts in the training. However, with the procession of the training she was able to overcome her stage fright and demonstrated ECD skills in a class of 20 people.

“In the last two weeks of the training, my hand was constantly up.  Whenever, the master trainers asked a question, called for role play or a presentation, I was ever ready.”

When she held the training certificate in her hand the first time, she realized that she was ready to finally open her own ECD center and teach the children of her neighborhood all that she was taught. For Amna, securing the Parwaan training certificate was like her longtime dream coming true.   

With her family’s support, Amna established her ECD center in the upper portion of her house. The densely populated neighborhood of 2000 households and a population of 1000 children from the age of 3 to 5 years helped Amna in enrolments. Her mother bought the furniture while her sister assisted with developing a standard learning environment for 3 to 5 years old children. Amna arranged her ECD center with manipulatives and set up a Science, Math, Art and Creativity Corner. Every day she and her mother set out to talk to every house in their neighborhood convincing the mothers to enroll the children in the ECD center which resulted in an initial enrolment of 15 children in her ECD center.

“This is just the beginning for I, with my new found self-trust, I know I can get many children in my ECD center as ECD is the need of the area and the children of age 3 of 5.” 

 Changing the Face of Early Years Education in Shahi Kalaan

A 24 year old Shakeela Naz, clad in a white chaddar, recites a poem to a circle of 3 to 5 year old kids as they act and sing along.  Belonging from Shahi Kalaan in Charsadda, she and her brother are the sole breadwinners of a family of 10 which includes 6 sisters. Shakeela worked at a Dasktkari center for a long time but it was her 8 month teaching experience in a government primary school area in her area that got her interested in early childhood education.

Despite the enrollment of preprimary level children in the 4 government primary schools in her area, the children are ignored by the teachers who only want to give undivided attention to the primary level students as they teach both pre-primary and primary level. When a fellow teacher asked Shakeela to take care of the pre-primary children for some money, Shakeela realized the critical situation of the education and development of children in their early years which is 3 to 5 years. Thus, Shakeela’s Parwaan Preschool – A School Readiness Programme’s journey began.

Shakeela found out about Parwaan Preschool Programme through her friend and decided to apply. To her surprise, she was selected among a pool of over 100 youth. With a family income of only Rs 8000, Shakeela was highly excited for the training as establishing her own business, especially in the context of early childhood development had been her aspiration for a very long time. Parwaan promised to equip her for the task of opening her own early childhood development center (ECD) by providing free quality training and technical support. Shakeela’s family encouraged her to take the training as it would guarantee a permanent source of income without the fear of losing a job along with the security of working in the safe realm of her home as the programme advertisement said the ECD centers could be established in homes. 

Shakeela travelled every day for 6 weeks to Tangi from Nawe Kale, Tarnaab Road to attend the training in entrepreneurial skills and ECD pedagogy. “The detail with which early years children’s learning needs were taught in this training has been exceptional. We were not only educated on  a child’s educational needs but his/her holistic development and we had the opportunity to display these skills in physical activities. Personally, the training has enhanced my patience with children which is crucial for running an ECD center.”

Finally when the day of the closing of the training came on 23rd August, 2016, Shakeela was confident that with all the management, social entrepreneurial and ECD skills learnt, she was ready to initiate her ECD center. She opened her ECD center the next day at her sister’s hujra. Separate from the rest of the house and not used by external visitors, it provided the perfect space for a quality learning environment. Shakeela, with the help of her sisters, decorated the walls with interactive learning material and set up the entire space with furniture and other physical facilities. Since the opening of the center, Shakeela has 16 enrolments. “It is such a proud moment for me when the children follow my gestures while singing the poems. The other day my neighbor, whose daughter comes to the center, told me that she had recited an entire Urdu poem while acted with it in front of her dad and both the parents were so delighted. It is these heartwarming moments that push me to do more.”

Shakeela plans to mover her ECD center to Tauta Khazana in Peshawar where her family has some land that could be utilized to build a bigger building. She believes that she can easily enroll a large number of students and aspires for the day when the pre-primary children in her area do not spend the entire day in the streets, learning abuses and wasting their time, but prepare for formal schooling in a playful manner at her ECD center.

Social Entrepreneurship - A Family Business

20 year old Hamid Javed from Billi Tang in Kohat attends eagerly to all his enrolled children as they gather around him to wash their hands after lunch. The novice caregiver is evident in him as he makes an effort to manage all the children but his patience with the children highlights the entrepreneur in him.

Currently enrolled in the first year of a Computer Science degree, Hamid was encouraged by his father Khalid Javed to pursue the early childhood development (ECD) pedagogical and entrepreneurial training under Parwaan Preschool – A School Readiness Programme.  A renowned teacher in his community, Khalid Javed wanted his son to stand on his feet and do something productive with his time. With no teaching experience to his credit, Hamid learnt a significance amount about ECD in the context of entrepreneurial skills in the 6 week training he received. Hamid found it to be an arduous task initially however slowly and gradually he took charge of his learning. Hamid found the ECD managerial skills taught in the training immensely useful as he was overwhelmed by the administrative aspect of running the ECD center. 

His father, the sole breadwinner of the family of seven guided his son in establishing the ECD center following the completion of the training. It was Khalid Javed’s credibility as a renowned teacher in his community that convinced parents to enroll their children in the ages of 3 to 5 years in the ECD center. Owing to the negative perception of Non for profit organizations generally, people in the community of Billi Tang were wary of enrolling their children in Hamid’s ECD center. However it was Hamid’s conviction and his father’s persistence that raised the number of enrolment from an initial 7 children in September, 2016 to 20 children in November, 2016.

The father and son duo participated in orientation sessions to sensitize parents regarding the significance of ECD. Owing to the community’s existing awareness about education evident by the 28 primary schools in the area, hey were more than eager to send their children to the ECD center once they realized the importance of holistic development of children in their early years on the growth of individuals in later years. Owing to the increase in enrolment of children, Hamid’s income from the ECD center rose to Rs. 26300 in October, 2016 from Rs. 1400 in September, 2016.

“Parents’ comments regarding the positive changes in children’s behavior such as sharing and respecting each other gives me hope and courage to strive forward to expand this ECD center into a state of the art school.”

From Ignorance to entrepreneurship

Sitting on the floor with 12 children around him, Muhammad Ayaz beams as he sings poems with his students of 3 to 5 years in his Early Childhood Development (ECD) center in the village of Barlan Bathokai in Tangi, Charsadda. The young graduate of BA from Tangi Degree College aspired to pursue PTC or CT (teacher training course) following his graduation. However, it was Parwaan Preschool – A School Readiness Programme that geared Muhammad Ayaz for his teaching journey.

After finding out about Parwaan from a friend, Ayaz applied for the entrepreneurial training in Early Childhood Development (ECD) pedagogical skills and concepts on a whim that his aspiration of pursuing PTC or CT will be fulfilled through it. Due to his personal inclination towards early years teaching, Ayaz easily grasped the ECD aspect of the training however it was the entrepreneurial aspect that he struggled with. Being from the small village of Barlan Bathokai, Ayaz was only familiar to the idea of labor, the most common occupation, as a source of income opposed to business. With a population of 895 and 110 households, Barlan Bathokai’s majority inhabitants are illiterate with no private and government schools in the village.

“On the first day of training, I did not even know what an entrepreneur was, it was a concept completely alien to me”, he says. “I remember very clearly the day Mr. Haseeb (master trainer) wrote the word ‘entrepreneur’ on the board and explained it to us”, he reminisces.

Ayaz always aspired to establish his own business to support his family of four. After his father’s death, his older brother took charge of the family but with a monthly income of only Rs. 20,000 the family had to face its struggles. Therefore the concept of ‘entrepreneurship’ appealed Ayaz, however, he realized that with ‘social entrepreneurship’ comes an immense responsibility. Ayaz faced a great challenge in convincing parents in his neighborhood to enroll their children in his ECD center due to the weak literary background of majority of his community and the absence of any government and private schools in his vicinity. Yet, due to his good rapport in the community, Ayaz was able to enroll 18 children in his ECD center in October starting from a merely four children initially in September.

“It makes me very proud and reinvigorates my confidence when parents of children enrolled in my ECD center come to me and recount the positive changes visible in the behavior of the children following their enrolment in the center- saying Salam every time they enter home and washing their hands before every meal, among many other good habits the children are learning.”

 In return, an increasing number of parents have become more willing to regularly send their children to the ECD center, much to Ayaz’s delight. As Ayaz talks about his future plans to build an official building for his center, it is evident that this entrepreneur’s journey will be filled with challenges yet with his persistence and conviction, the outcome will be successful.