Inspiration Pakistan: Zindagi Trust

Posted on October 28, 2009
Filed Under >Shahran Asim, Education, People, Society
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Shahran Asim

I just received an email that Shehzad Roy will be coming to Chicago this week to receive the Patricia Blunt Fellowship from the Chicago Council of Global Affairs. With every day news of doom and gloom, I think news like this are a breath of fresh air for the Pakistanis.

The Chicago Council of Global Affairs recognized Shehzad’s efforts in improving secondary education and commitment he made through establishing the Zindagi Trust. Among several things that Zindagi Trust is doing, one of their best work, I think is when they turned a Government run school into an educational Center of Excellence. It is called SMB Fatima Jinnah School which is a girls secondary school located in the the old City Area of Soldier Bazar/ Garden.

Zindagi Trust was provided with government approval to take over the management of the school and improve the general standard of education and management. There were numerous challenges they had to face. For example the playgrounds of the school were used as a dump facility by the people in the vicinity. Stray dogs used to to roam around the ground. The playground was also regularly used for hosting weddings and private functions which always left a huge dump of left over food and trash in their aftermath.

Zindagi Trust also had to deal with the resistance of old habits. It was not easy to impose punctuality by the teachers. The teachers union also started protesting and raised concerns on the syllabus, telling parents that soon they will receive a fee hike and that parents should protest against the new management. A number of political groups also got involved and created a furor. I believe Shahzad and Zindagi trust are sincere in their efforts and due to their untiring efforts they were able to turnaround the things.

One of the first change that Zindagi Trust brought was doing the repairs to the school building itself. Besides infrastructure improvements they introduced books currently being taught in premier schools across the city. They have also engaged volunteers from top schools of the city to train school teachers of SMB Fatima Jinnah School. Similarly, they have also worked hard on maintaining discipline and punctuality among teachers.

During a single year alone, the school has been transformed into a model school that can be compared with the top schools of the city. A computer lab has been provided with latest machines and a fulltime network support system. A library has been built and provided with the best possible collection of books. A dispensary has also been set up, and a full time doctor is employed. Similarly, an attractive art room, a big play ground with basket ball courts, 24-hour security guards and a stand-by power generator to deal with power outages have all been constructed and installed. Comfortable staff rooms have been built for the teachers and an air conditioned conference room with projection facilities has also been provided for teacher meeting.

A day care system has been provided for teachers where they can drop off their infants and can thus concentrate on teaching. A professional janitorial staff has been hired to cleans the entire campus regularly.

In terms of academics, the new school system has fixed the class size at 40 so that each student can be given more attention. Similarly, for practical classes of grade IX and X, group size of students has been fixed at 10 so that each student can be attended to properly. To ensure that students are enrolled in time for a full academic year, a system of deadlines has also been set. Another significant change to avoid learning by rote is they do not take annual exams from junior classes but take monthly assessments. Given the changes that have taken place in SMB Fatima Jinnah School since it was adopted, the school now promises to be one of the best public schools in the city.

These changes at a government school inspired many people to adopt the same model of school to other areas of the country. Shahbaz Sharif the CM of Punjab, during his visit to the school said that he would replicate the experiment in Punjab. Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza has also requested Zindagi Trust and Book Group to launch a project in his home area of Badin. Additionally, the local councillor and town nazim also admitted their children in SMB Fatima Jinnah School after they were convinced that their children’s futures would be brighter at this school.

The SMB Fatima Jinnah School was handed over to the Zindagi Trust and the Book Group under the Adopt-A-School program. Both NGOs are currently involved in the education sector, and were granted permission through a government notification issued last year. Many express the hope that one day their college will also be made part of the experiment taking place at the SMB Fatima Jinnah School. However, their hopes have thus far been dashed due to a controversy that has erupted between stakeholders, it has been learnt.

The experiment with the school was a resounding success. The new management was not only able to motivate students and teachers but was also successful in attracting private and public funding to drastically improve the educational experience of the 2,400 students who study in the facility.

In Shahzad Roy‘s own words

“we don’t need to provide temporary relief to the students of the common man infact, we need to really uplift them so that they could compete with other students from the elite and can be productive citizens for our country”.

Other Initiatives of Zindagi Trust:

(1) Breakfast Program in Government Schools
(2) I am paid to Learn


(1) Shahzad Roy gave an audio interview to ABN Chicago Urdu Talk Radio on Oct 11th, 2009. Here he also talks about his recent trip to USA. The interview can be listened here.
(2) Zindagi Trust
‘s Blog here
(3) Zindagi Trust
‘s Website: .

ATP’s Similar Post:

Inspiration Pakistan: Rashidabad

11 responses to “Inspiration Pakistan: Zindagi Trust”

  1. Here is the slide deck we did for this project in April 2008, hardly a year into the effort h-girls-school

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