Education is a powerful tool, it is used to differentiate the literate and the illiterate, however, in Pakistan, seems like education is only for the elite and not for the poor.

Popularly known as ‘The Street School’ or ‘Footpath School’, in Clifton under the Bahria Icon Tower flyover near the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine, is an open-air school for the children who used to beg, or belong to very poor families. Well, at least it used to be.

Image Credits: Anusha Sachwani

The Sindh government had issued a notice to the Ocean Welfare Organisation’s project and is only giving 3-days to evacuate the site.

“If the Sindh government can’t educate the children begging at traffic signals in Karachi, they shouldn’t shut down street schools,” Syeda Anfas Ali Shah Zaidi 

OWO also operates 3 small-scale street schools in Badar commercial. Anfas, who is also a Pond’s Miracle Woman, started the school after the 2014 Army Public School massacre, she added, “I wanted to find a way to spread knowledge, so I started my mission with educating children on the streets in Karachi.”

The project started off with 7 schools throughout Karachi, however, due to lack of funds, some of them had to close down. The children who attend the school not only get free education, but are also fed a day-time meal, and are taken on small field trips for their personal growth. These children are also taught vocational skills like sewing and personal grooming.

Image Credits: Anusha Sachwani

According to the official notice, the Sindh government has decided to shift these footpath schools to buildings in nearby localities. When Anfas and other OWO office-bearers visited SEF Managing Director Naheed Shah Durrani’s office, they were told to shut down the Footpath School.

“If we don’t comply with the government’s orders, we shall be forced to clear the footpath. Naheed disgraced us in her office and reiterated her threats over the phone until late in the night.”

“I’m not collecting donations from any government body or foreign country. I know that the Sindh government has allocated funds for footpath schools, but Naheed wants to set up her own school on our footpath for pocketing the funds.”

Anfas expressed how the popularity of the Street School has been the reason why it is often showcased in the media and has left the other ‘elite’ and ‘reputable’ schools in trouble.

However, Naheed has denied the allegations Anfas had stated. On the other hand, SEF Deputy Director Nisar Ahmed said the School Education Department had offered to provide a building with the needed requirements to accommodate students of the footpath school.

“A formal education platform will be provided to them to secure their future and to avoid any incidents on roads. The SEF intends to provide a more appropriate mechanism for rehabilitating students coming from special circumstances,” he said.

This is a developing story, we will update all of our readers as it further as it develops.

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