Pakistan’s Primary School Revolution

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Kiran Shaheen lives in Uthal, a village on the outskirts of Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. The eight-year-old girl lives with her two brothers, sister and parents in a single-room house where there is electricity, but no running water or proper sanitation. As part of their daily chores, she and her sister help their mother cook meals that usually consist of bread and vegetables, draw water from the village well, and feed their two goats.

Shaheen’s mother makes clay stoves and anklets made of thread to sell to the village women. Her father is unemployed and uses his wife’s money to fuel his drug habit. He frequently lands in jail for petty thefts, and beats his wife and children regularly.

But her difficult home life has not stopped Kiran and her two siblings from marching off to school every morning. Her light brown hair is neatly plaited with two bright green ribbons and her beige uniform with its white scarf trimly placed across her chest as she carries her tattered bag across the fields.

She attends a school in Uthal set up in April 2002 by an organization called The Citizens Foundation (TCF), established in 1995 by six affluent businessmen based in Karachi to …