I would like to extend heartiest congratulations and a very affectionate, warm and sincere welcome to all students entering the portals of ZamungKor (ZK). You are among the fortunate ones who have been chosen to remake your destiny. You are in good
hands and we shall endeavor to make your stay comfortable, enjoyable and full of meaningful learning. At the end of your
stay with us, we would like you to not only excel in your academic and extracurricular pursuits, but also leave us as well-rounded young ladies and gentlemen. You have to promise to work hard, and I promise you your time with us will be the best in your life.
You are here because you deserve to be here. As children of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), you are our responsibility and let no one
tell you otherwise!
Article 25-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan states:
“The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may
be determined by law”.
These are words of reason; honorable words; bold and ambitious words…Alas, they are far removed from reality!
In Pakistan, out-of-school children are over 25 million. Of these, approximately 2.5 million are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). In
Peshawar alone, there are more than 36,000 engaged as child-labor in menial work, and over 25,000 are working and living in the streets. These are numbing statistics and we fail to grasp the reality of this ticking demographic bomb.
Government of KP has taken a bold – albeit small – step by reaching out to the most vulnerable of these out-of-school children.
ZamungKor (ZK), which means “our home” in Pushto, is a creative project in which children from among the most challenged
segments of society are afforded an opportunity to live in a healthy environment and learn from trained and competent
professionals, so that they realize their full potential in life that God endowed them with. At the policy level, the project is run by a diverse and competent group of honorary members that constitutes the “Institutional Management Committee” –like a Board of Governors – and the day to day affairs are looked after by a paid Chief Executive Officer.
While public sector education in general has suffered due to inadequate funding ( less than 2% of GDP), and cost us dearly in thwarting Pakistan’s development as a whole, life for those that
live on the lowest margins of society has become dismal, desolate and pitiable! For those of us who are more fortunate, statistics about out-of-school children, child-labor and street children are uncomfortable phrases that we tend to cloud out of our consciousness.
Unfortunately, these are not mere numbers; these are about living, breathing and sometimes playing children born to loving-parents like us all, except that their lot is economically challenged. But for an unfortunate roll of Nature’s dice, theirs were born into difficult circumstances and ours into worldly comfort. We know how to take care of our progeny, but it would be unethical and callous if we leave the less fortunate out in the cold. Highborn or lowborn, they are all Pakistanis, they all are from KP, and…They all are our children: They are not children of a lesser God!
If anything, we owe them an extra turn to payback society our due, and try to even-out the inequitable score with which they started.
ZK is an admirable social intervention by the PTI government, for which the credit goes squarely to the top leadership, Chairman Imran Khan and Chief Minister KP, Mr. Pervez Khattak. The
project is designed to cater to 1000 children in Peshawar District as a start. Like I said, it is very laudable, but a small and humble beginning due to infrastructure, logistics and financial
constraints. I do hope, however, this will become a catalyst for a deluge of similar programs. I hope and pray that future governments, donors, the private sector and philanthropists will step
in by pooling their resources so that the program is rolled out in all districts of KP, and indeed Pakistan!
Let me close by thanking the PTI leadership, PTI Government of KP and the KP Provincial Government for their vision and support to bring this to fruition. My sincerest thanks to my colleagues at the Institute Management Committee, and all our “outside” friends and partners without whose help and support this was not possible.
Thank you and God bless you all!
Syed Imtiaz H. Gilani
Chairman, Institutional Managment Committee (IMC)