Cities for Children showcases ‘Seekho Sikhao Saathi’ programme

ISLAMABAD  -   Cities for Children hosted a special showcase event for their ‘Seekho Sikhao Saathi’ programme with the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) on Wednesday at the Islamabad Model College for Girls (IMCG), F-8/1. The event took place from 10 am to 12 pm. A range of education stakeholders attended, including representatives from the Ministry of Education and Professional Training, Federal Directorate of Education, donor organizations and civil society. Attendees also included 60 representatives from the 10 participating schools. Cities for Children shared innovative practices to enhance children’s motivation to learn and attend school. This was particularly important in the context of unprecedented numbers of out-of-school children, and high dropout rates in education in Pakistan. Mehnaz Akber Aziz, a lawmaker, who passed the legislation to end corporal punishment in schools in ICT said: ‘Early learning opportunities are essential for children’s development and for them to thrive. I am pleased to see the commitment of the team here, not just to foundational learning but to creating safe spaces free from corporal punishment.’ Cities for Children’s flagship Seekho Sikhao Saathi programme started off as a response to pandemic school closures. Based on a Child-to-Child model, the programme trains older children (Bari Saathi/Big Partners), tapping their agency to become education champions by delivering playful early learning sessions to groups of younger children (Chotay Saathi/Little Partners). According to Founder Madeeha Ansari, ‘This builds crucial foundational skills for younger children and socioemotional skills for older girls to navigate life - making them partners in learning.’ Cities for Children was able to expand the Seekho Sikhao Saathi programme and partner with the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) to conduct a series of playful-learning based sessions in 10 public schools in Islamabad Capital Territory. Based on a child-to-child model, through the programme older girls in Grades 6 and 7 (Bari Saathi) were trained to become champions of learning in their schools, for younger children in Grades Prep and 1. The event celebrated the girl leaders of learning, their creative efforts and their own valuable gains in terms of self-confidence, agency, empathy and relationship skills. Shayan Mujeeb, Programme Officer at Cities for Children said: ‘It was a privilege to witness the girls grow into confident leaders and make independent decisions, all while teaching little children with love and empathy.’ Sadia Malik, representing the Malala Fund, emphasised the significance of a holistic education and importance of investing in girls. Cities for Children works to support the learning and well-being of children living in urban poverty. Our main goal is to protect the ‘right to childhood’ – right to read and play in safety.

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