Iqra Fund is unique: we partner directly with each rural community and local government leadership to build a sustainable education system for our girls. Iqra Fund becomes a catalyst for a community’s success in building a government-supported school system from the ground up, without long term dependency on continued Iqra Fund support.
Gilgit-Baltistan is made up of 10 districts, and the Aga Khan Education Services Pakistan (AKESP) only supports 3 of those districts. The other 7 districts make up the majority Gilgit-Baltistan and most of the remote areas do not benefit from AKESP or other International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO/NGO) Support. Iqra Fund operates in the most remote regions of Gilgit-Baltistan where there is little to no access to education, especially for girls, and where there is almost zero literacy among women. Iqra Fund has worked to build a relationship with AKESP and we have benefited from partnerships for teacher training and teacher hiring in remote areas where we can have an influence (because of the community’s geographic remoteness and our specialty for working with hard-to-reach communities). However, we do not have any overlap of communities served.
We have a close relationship with the local government and this is what we’ve learned: Once GB gains provincial status, the government will focus resources on the immediate challenges of road access, healthcare and other infrastructural shortcomings. Iqra Fund’s collaborative model, working closely with partnering communities and the government, helps hold the government accountable for the educational services they should be providing in each community. We anticipate the demand for Iqra Fund’s services will be greater than ever. We have only been able to reach a small fraction of the communities affected by a lack of available schools or teachers. Entering our 10th year of operations, and with the newly arriving provincial status in GB, the stage is set for our model to be implemented faster in new partnering villages, and for those villages to grow their voice and ability to receive the government support they deserve. Without Iqra Fund services, it might take another generation waiting for a government school to arrive. That’s one more generation of girls facing childhood marriage and field labor instead of a future with education.
Iqra Fund is widely celebrated in Pakistan for being a transparent and accountable International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) after rigorous reporting and audits required by the Pakistani government under its new INGOs policy introduced in October 2015 to vet out and kick out potentially non-compliant organizations. Two years ago the government cracked down on all international and local charitable organizations resulting in 18 organizations being forced to shut down operations. Iqra Fund is now the only education-based INGO able to operate in Baltistan and has become a shining example of an organization with a zero corruption policy.
The investment of each dollar has continued to meet our high demand for accountability and transparency in achieving our mission. Due to inflation over the past few years, we have been able to lower cost-per-student, while increasing enrollment. Additionally, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have been able to focus the dollars’ strength to provide the additional means necessary for a safe quality education to all of our children.
The relationship between maternal education and mortality among women giving birth in health care institutions: Analysis of the cross sectional WHO Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health