Muhammad Umair

Muhammad Umair, aged 34, is Project Lead CCE (Creativity, Culture and Education) at the CARE Foundation

My father worked in a factory, and he could not afford to send me to a private school, so I went to the nearest government school – Government Boys High School Qila Lachman Singh.

The education I had at the start of my school years was very different until CARE adopted the school. Before then, the quality of education was quite poor. There were issues with government schools everywhere. Different classes were merged because of a shortage of teachers, and sometimes teachers did not even turn up.

Everything changed soon after CARE Foundation adopted our school. We had new teachers who were regular and punctual, every class sat in their own classroom with their own teacher. We had a new library, and computer labs and science labs.

I also attened CARE’s Access to English Language Program because of my strong desire to learn English language. I participated in spelling bees, speeches and debate competitions. All of this was very new for me – an experience so many other students were deprived of – so I was happy to have availed this opportunity.

My life would have been very different without CARE. The experience and exposure I gained from my school widened my horizons. I began to think big.

Later, I worked with the foundation as a teaching assistant. The salary was small, but it meant the world to me.  It did not only support me financially but also paved a way for me to develop myself professionally. I was then promoted as a teacher and later as an English language teacher. I continued my education at the same time and completed a master’s degree in applied linguistics and human resource management.

I then joined one of Pakistan’s leading private schools as a principal. Later, I moved to Saudi Arabia and worked there as an English Language teacher. These were well paid jobs but I always felt the urge to give back to my alma mater, so I decided to return to CARE.

Now, I am working for the Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) program. We started this program in collaboration with a UK based organisation in 2015 with ten schools and it was then scaled to 78 schools. The program uses a high functioning classroom model and five creative habits of mind to help children understand various concepts of Maths, English and Science and develop 21st century skills.

Our work is impactful. We work in urban slums, peri urban, rural, and remote areas where there is a dire need of education. If children are educated, if they become more creative, then they can start to find solutions to their problems; if they become critical thinkers, then they will have a better chance to thrive in the world. This is how we see our work here.

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