When Misree announced that he was going to start a pre-school in his village, the community members did not agree with his plan. And why would they? They had never heard of a pre-school before and Misree's idea sounded foreign to them.
While Misree was still thinking who to hire for teaching the young children, he too had a slight doubt if whether this was going to be successful. But after much convincing and motivating, 10 little students enrolled in his pre-school class, and Misree himself became their teacher.
Misree used his good mind to create local material for teaching toddlers. With his creative mind he made Alphabets and shapes with joining tree branches, and provided sand for his little students to have as much of a natural environment. His classroom is made of a small hut, unlike what a normal urban pre-school would look like, and children sit on the ground, but there is an eagerness to learn in children's eyes.
Misree believes in a simple perception, there is nothing that you can't do.
Opening a pre-school in his village was fulfilling a need as well as passion to find an innovative solution to help students who were dropping out of school. Because most parents work in the fields all day, they prefer for their children to stay home and look after their younger siblings.
And not only this, but a survey identified that students enrolled in schools at an older age are less likely to grasp the basics that are taught in smaller classes. This is because they are not prepared from an early age and by the time they join school in an older age, they don't have the cognitive skills necessary for a child to retain what they learn. And this can affect a child's grades.
Misree's small initiative had a vision, and he was determined to give it a try.
Misree went on teaching his little students for some time but finally found a teacher who was happily willing to teach. This teacher is a little girl herself, a fourth grader, but 12 years old. Her name is Bhagwani and bhagwani teaches other girls as well who dropped out of school.
This was another innovative way to help bhagwani sustain herself as well as developing additional skills, such as: confidence and teaching skills that can help her in future.
When Bahgwani first joined the pre-school, she was very shy and nervous, says Misree. I had to encourage her a lot as she was teaching for the first time and often became nervous, skimming to one place when parents came to see how their children were learning.
But gradually, as she gained more control she developed lots of confidence. Now even if parents come to see their children, she keeps on teaching and doesn't stop.
After a few visits, I noticed a gradual progress in the little students. I was very surprised to see what they had learnt. They were learning the necessary discipline of how to sit in the class and how to greet the teacher, and taking permission for water or toilet was a joy to see. The children were quick in learning through the local material that was provided. They are now able to recognize alphabets and are learning to write counting.
This was a clear indication that pre-school is an important stage for little children as it can greatly help them develop sensory and motor skills, give them a stronger foundation as a beginner, and better prepare them for the elementary phase. Pre-schools with better infrastructure is the need of the hour.
At present PEP is planning to pilot 2 more pre-schools from August 2017 in the different areas of rural Sindh.
Bhagwani's older students who had to drop out of school