Rural Pakistan suffers from a lack of educational resources for young girls. Girls belonging to poor families are often pulled out of school at young ages and are forced to be dependent on men their whole lives, which effectively inhibits them from pursuing higher education and following their dreams. Although computer and technology-based academies do exist, they are either too expensive or are often incapable of properly teaching computer skills due to a lack of computers, effective curriculum, and funding. Thus, young girls who can’t attend or afford such academies often find themselves stuck in the gender stereotypes of Pakistan, which presumes men as solely capable of using technology and pursuing higher education. They become entrenched in a cycle of dependency as the women before them.
My project began two years ago during my gap year before entering Bowdoin. My goal was to intellectually empower young women by providing them with an education on basic computer science and leadership skills. The organization, Al-Huda Academy, was established to accomplish my goal. The mission of the academy is to instill a sense of confidence and intellectual fearlessness in young women by pushing them to think for themselves. I began by teaching English language skills to a group of 20 girls. I had to constantly change our location and none of the buildings I used were safe from flooding during the rainy season. I simply taught English and strengthened the reading and writing skills of these young women using a single room. The following year, I was fortunate to be able to continue my work as a Davis Projects for Peace recipient through Bowdoin College. With funding from Davis Projects for Peace, I was able to secure a stable building, advertise for the academy through billboards, and hire three instructors holding master’s degrees. I introduced computer programming using Scratch, a free interactive software created by MIT to teach young kids how to code, and the Socratic method of teaching to the three instructors. In addition, I held leadership lectures for my students involving topics such as how to use the newly acquired computer skills in their community, how change is made on a small scale within their communities, and how to speak up for oneself. The Davis Foundation allowed me to purchase twelve desktop computers, school supplies, Wifi, a generator, and all the necessities required to have a functioning facility. While these accomplishments have been a milestone for my work, there is still more to do.
- Date December 5, 2018
- Tags 2018, Education, Social Service