In a meeting on August 15 2018 the Higher Education Commission chairman Tariq Banuri was told about aspects of Zoya schools that should be scaled-up/used nationally, such as, our programs on science, math and basic medicine. For this purpose we proposed to use the nation-wide outreach of Open University, Virtual University to present our video lectures, posters, songs, booklets. Presently, HEC has no program for such ‘out-of-box’ activities/ideas/approaches, nor do these feature in the Universities’ incentive structure. Yet, the Chairman appreciated our ‘fascinating work on the popularisation of math.’ Hopefully, the HEC chairman will bring our work to the notice of the new government’s National Commission to reform Education (September 2018) of which he is member.
Zoya schools address the wider condition and needs of society. We promote citizenship in classrooms with posters on Children’s rights, songs on oppression, liberation, tolerance. Our classroom seating–4 children to a table–encourages discussion, dialogue and argument. Our teaching responds to local needs: our math/science curriculum uses observation, experimentation, measurement and verification (essential features of science) in our exercise to measure the Earth’s Circumference. We use the local language i.e. the language in which the children think–their mother tongue. Basic medicine is taught by informing about 5 diseases common in villages and their 5 cures. Children take part in health/mal-nutrition surveys. Our chemistry curriculum will analyse soils/water/crops in villages. Our children read world literature (Hemingway, Prem Chand, Rumi, Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekov) and learn about world music (Beethoven, etc.) through our rock opera Nawan Sij which brings together our poems on science/tolerance/children’s rights into a musical story of a girl who wishes to know how big is the earth and finds out in Zoya school. We are also preparing a brief people’s history of Pakistan for children in Seraiki from the lives and poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib.