Thousands of children are enjoying the benefits of Reach out to Asia’s three-year Infrastructure Support & Professional Improvement to Revitalize Education (INSPIRE) project that has brought hope of a better future in the Swat District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan.
Working with CARE, ROTA has supported the INSPIRE Project which provides quality education for children and youth in 42 schools in Swat Valley, including increasing children’s leadership skills and social cohesion through extracurricular sports activities.
In the last few years, Pakistan has run into one humanitarian crisis after another: the 2005 earthquake in North West Frontier Province, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, internal displacement of populations in the aftermath of military operations in Swat and other tribal regions against the Taliban in 2009, and in 2010, intense floods that devastated the region.
ROTA reacted almost immediately to the situation in Swat valley by increasing access to educational facilities, improving the quality of education and providing psychosocial support. Together with partners, volunteers, and local communities, ROTA worked for three years to ensure that affected children and youth have continuous access to relevant and high-quality primary and secondary education.
Under the INSPIRE project, ROTA Inaugurated several schools to increase educational and community development work in the Swat Valley. In total, ROTA committed to reconstruct two Secondary Schools, rehabilitating 40 primary, middle and secondary schools, supplying educational materials to 42 schools, implementing a teacher training program for 280 teachers and operating youth development initiatives through sports.
“ROTA’s Inspire project has been very successful and we are proud to have provided educational facilities for the children of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Children’s right to education must be a priority, especially in communities where education is key to the future”, said ROTA Executive Director Mr. Essa Al Mannai.
“ROTA understands that the students need a protective learning environment with psychosocial support to enable them to focus on their studies for the long-term benefit of the students and the community. Schools in Swat valley are a testament of ROTA’s strategy to provide access to education and to improve the quality of schooling for its beneficiaries,” added Al Mannai.
A key element of the Inspire project was to focus on increasing social cohesion through youth development using sports activities. For this, ROTA along with financial assistance of different international donors reconstructed few sports grounds that have been made partially functional. ROTA’s aim to restore the sport activities was done to bring back the youth, who were attracted by the insurgent’s propaganda, and resume educational and recreational activities for a better future.
Commenting on the impact the INSPIRE project has made in Swat Valley, Mr. Waleed Rauf, CARE Pakistan’s Country Director said, “ROTA’s INSPIRE project has played a vital role in helping communities rebuild and the people of Swat recover after the devastation and trauma brought on by recent flooding and militancy. The project has increased the local communities’ and government’s commitment to support girls’ education and realize that educating girls is critical to having prosperous and peaceful communities in the future.”
He added: “The joy and camaraderie fostered through the sports event supported by ROTA further helped the healing and return to normalcy for the people of the Swat valley. CARE is sincerely grateful for ROTA’s generous support towards the people of Pakistan and the Swat district of KP in particular.”
A total of 296 sports and recreational events (134 boys and 162 girls) were held in 42 schools. In 24 girls’ schools, sports and recreational events like cricket, sack race, badminton, athletics, drawing competitions, singing, and speeches were arranged.
“We have always advocated that sports have the potential for producing positive outcomes in educational and non educational settings for children and youth. Sport has also been shown to serve as a mechanism for the transmission of values, knowledge, and norms in creating social harmony,” added Al Mannai.
Furthermore, ROTA conducted district wide competitions to foster community interaction and social cohesion. In this, regular meetings of the district youth forum were held with District Sports Officer, the Football Association and project staff for planning and organizing the district-level football tournaments in Years 2 and 3 of the project.
Subsequently, ROTA hosted a mega event of district wide competitions for boys and girls. This included provision of equipment and uniforms for teams which encouraged team building. A district level football tournament for boys was arranged in Kabal Stadium, district Swat. The contest was jointly organized by the District Youth Forum INSPIRE project, District Sports Department Swat and the Football Association Swat. Eight teams from youth forums established under the INSPIRE project participated in the sports event while more than 4,000 people from Swat witnessed these matches.
“We are incredibly proud of the success achieved by our Inspire project. At Rota, we lead by example and inspire leadership through our activities. We take full responsibility for developing the youth leadership potential of our future generations,” concluded Al Mannai.
Together with its partners, ROTA has worked in providing high quality and relevant primary and secondary education, encouraging relationships among communities, creating safe learning environments, and restoring education in crisis-affected areas of Swat valley.