[VoxSpace Life] Rohayl Varind’s Slum School : An Endeavour Par Excellence For A Future In Pakistan

Rohayl Varind- Eliminating Vices With Limited Resources

Child labour in Pakistan is the accentuated effect of poverty, and severe unemployment. Even though former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif aimed at developing Pakistan, child labour in Pakistan rose to a staggering 19 million. Today, as reported, there are 23 million children deprived of education and schooling, vulnerable to abuse, malnutrition, and bonded slavery, while federal and provincial governments fail to grapple with the issue. One person who is striving to change these numbers is Rohayl Varind.

Rohayl Varind is an award-winning Social Entrepreneur, activist and educationist from Pakistan. His social works are acknowledged and appreciated internationally by big BBC Radio, Quartz and Pakistan Today. Currently, a bulk of his ventures has also been translated into Russian, Chinese Indonesian, and Hindi. Varind is the man behind the establishment of Slum School, in 2016, which aims to provide night classes to the children who are forced to work during the day as maids, and waiters under low wages. It is Pakistan’s first solar night school so far.

Where Elementary Education Is A Luxury For Many

The school is bereft of a single hint of luxury, the children sit huddled together on a mat with their bags, well surrounded by solar powered tube lights. Since the inception of this school, it is based on solar power energy. The Express Tribune has earlier mentioned about the acute electricity shortage and frequent yet prolonged power outages in the country, therefore by adapting to solar power, Varind has also ensured that the children are not discontinuing their studies because of rampant power cuts.

Not A SLUM Of Depravity

The word SLUM has gained an altogether different dimension under the tutelage of Varind. The abbreviation stands for ‘Students Learning Under the Moon and Mentors’. The school in Faisalabad is located in an area where there is a poor availability of electricity. Solar power as an alternative has made learning, of subjects like English, Urdu, Science and graphic design, simpler and unhindered. Personally, I believe that this varied combination of subjects is also a blessing, as Pakistan has not yet successfully implemented e-learning or quality education of the latest technologies.

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Faisalabad is a busy and crowded city and Varind’s decision to include computer education in the school would engage the minds of a number of children into thousand unexplored possibilities, encourage them to learn in a well-integrated manner. The Slum School, therefore, has not just confined itself to merely being a shelter for the lesser privileged children. But, rather has manifested itself as an effective remedy in a time when children are marred by war, trafficking and military propaganda.

How Does The School Function?

The school accepts aid solely in the form of stationary, food or other materials like laptops, that would be functional in teaching within the stipulated timeframe. Solar power related equipment like power inverter, fans, or solar panels is also welcomed.

The school usually runs from 7 pm to 9 pm. At times volunteers, like acquaintances or friends of Varind are also permitted to take the classes. Varind meticulously elucidates on the contributions of each and every one of these in fulfilling his dream of educating those children, who are burdened with the responsibilities of adulthood way too soon.

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In Varind’s interviews, where he had previously talked about his personal battle against war and hunger, Slum School should be viewed as a well-construed step to work on these issues at the grassroots level.

Varind’s magazine Times of Youth is an extensively read and circulated magazine, also run feature articles on his strategies so far. For instance, Pakistan’s first Solar Bags, that help children study in late evenings, after work.

Students of Slum School, return home and work late at night – ”We don’t have electricity at our home so I was unable to stitch or do any other work at night. We are extremely thankful to Rohayl Varind for donating us Solar Bag now I can stitch at night and can earn extra income for my family.” –Parveen

Varind’s Personal War Against Social Degeneration

The Slum School has seen success mainly for two reasons- Varind’s deep understanding of the socio-cultural scenario at the backdrop of which the school is set and its minimal use of resources on a day-to-day basis. The students are provided with clothes, foods, shoes, and books and most importantly access to laptops- to technology.

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In this context, his other venture ‘Wall of Humanity’, an open, public wall which provides free cooked food, medical check-ups, and other useful amenities to the downtrodden of Faisalabad, weekly. The city has shown tremendous support to his initiative by providing volunteers as well as a generous number of donors offering their supplies for the needy. Over the years, Varind has also partnered with NGOs spanning across the world for such well-integrated enterprises.

In Memoriam  

The Slum School, as an easy measure to replicate in other countries, has gained popularity. But, however, Varind reveals that many countries are following their steps without giving them due to acknowledgement. The fact that their ideas have proven useful in other places with the same background is in itself a happy revelation for Varind. He sincerely hopes that more such schools blossom amidst the scourging litter of spoilage