That’s me, there, taking a picture.
Standing far enough to be invisible to the little girl on top, while she opens her arms to the world. Surreptitiously clicking away, trying not to look like a tourist.
I’m not sure what it means to be a “Communication Specialist”, really – I tend to slide into jobs that are very hard to explain. For now, it means that I spend three days a week going around the eight schools run by the JAQ Education Trust, absorbing as much as I can. I say “schools”, of course, because that’s what they are – resounding with ABCs, 123s, “good morning-thankyou-sorry-please”.
A closer look at the Pehli Kiran School System, however, reveals that it is slightly different from the conventional education franchise. The PKSs are tucked away in secret corners of Islamabad, that lie just beyond the manicured streets. They cater to children from squatter communities, who might just be about to move.
These are children who fall through the cracks of the current system – rag-pickers, bag-pickers, refugees – who may never have had access to any other form of basic education. Since they belong to mobile communities, their lives are governed by practical uncertainty. As a result, the PK schools are especially designed as spaces of learning that can follow the students from A to B.
Last week, I had my first immersion into the non-formal school system. I’m having to discard very many set ideas and adapt myself to an alternate reality.
There is order in this, and inspiration. For the first time in years, I have extensive, colour-coded notes. Hope to share them soon.
If I were a gypsy and you a star
I would spot you from afar
And follow you till you would see
That maybe you could follow me.