GRACE Association was piloted to raise awareness about the needs of children with disabilities, and to create an inclusive environment in primary schools that is safe and accessible for all children. GRACE works with existing public and private primary schools in the extreme northern areas of Pakistan, namely the Gilgit Baltistan region. Parents, teachers and communities are targeted to raise their awareness about discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, language, religion, nationality, social origin, and economic condition.
The campaign includes awareness seminars, advocacy meetings, and data collection on out-of-school children, especially girls and children with disabilities. One of the primary goals of this campaign is to enhance community participation in school programs and create an institutional infrastructure through community-school networks (CSNs). CSNs provide a platform for the school community to identify issues related to their children's education, share experiences and educational resources, plan school development programs, develop linkages, mobilize resources for the schools, and network with other schools or organizations to promote and support access and quality for all children.
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CEI approaches in action
GRACE Pakistan endeavors to improve the quality of fragile public and private primary schools through community involvement and the professional development of teachers. All target schools serve children from the poorest sections of society.
Since the program piloted in May 2013, the program has collected baseline data and developed strategies for lasting, effective involvement of communities in the school program. GRACE's major focus is on forming valley-wide community school networks and equipping them with the required skills and resources. This is being done to enroll and retain all out-of-school children, including girls and children with disabilities, as well as to improve the quality of the schools. GRACE is currently working in four valleys with 80 public and private primary schools.
GRACE's goal is to form community-school networks (CSNs) in 20 valleys in Gilgit-Baltistan by the end of 2015 and cover all government and private primary schools under the umbrella of valley -wide CSNs. The formation of a well-equipped CSN means that the school community is effectively involved, working to educate all children and improve the school's quality. However each CSN needs skills training and a resource center to sit together to discuss common issues, share experiences, and plan for further improvements in the schooling system. The ultimate goal is to ensure the enrollment and retention of all children in a valley, who will graduate from their primary school equipped with the skills and knowledge they deserve.
Another goal for GRACE is to ensure that primary schools are accessible for all children, and engaged in improving their learning outcomes. It will support learning for children with disabilities by training teachers, involving parents in school programs, networking and forming partnerships with stakeholders, donors, and other organizations.
Monitoring & Evaluation
The program staff periodically conducts meetings with CSN members - including teachers, parents and students. The CSN members closely monitor the member schools. All feedback from GRACE program staff and CSN members are taken into account to improve the program's activities