Ahmed works at a construction company six days a week for 14 hours each day in heat, dust and rain to earn an honest living for his family. Despite that, he is unable to pay the school fees of his two children, aged 6 and 10. His elder son, Faraz, spends his day at a nearby tire-repair shop learning the trade. His youngest, Hamza, waits to get old enough to join his brother.
Faraz and Hamza are among those millions of children in Pakistan who have never seen the inside of a school. “My youngest is very sharp. I wish I could afford quality education for my children and provide them with a better future. School fees are unbelievably high and a handy worker like me can hardly afford to feed his children, let alone educate them,” said Ahmed.
According to the latest economic survey, the literacy rate in Pakistan stands at 58%. In a population of 200 million, of which 60% comprises of youth, millions of children are deprived of education.
Almost 30% of the children living in urban areas of Pakistan have never been enrolled in a school. The situation in the rural areas, especially in Punjab, is much worse. About 30% of Pakistanis live below the poverty line. They earn less than the minimum wage of PKR 15,000 a month, set for unskilled workers by the Government of Pakistan. An average household with two children will spend almost half its salary in private school education each month, if the bread earner gets minimum wage. Moreover, the already high fees are increasing each passing year.
A large number of people, including parents, their children and members of civil society have been protesting against ‘illegal’ fee hike by private schools for the past few years. This is one of the most pressing issues facing our society today and like many others Ahmed’s children are among the victims of this menace.
Careem realizes this and aspires to play a role in improving as many lives as it can, especially of those working with Careem closely: the captains. These captains leave their houses every morning to earn an honest living for themselves and their families. Careem looks to help them provide a better living for their family members; an essential element of which is education.
In an initiative to make education more accessible to the captains’ children, Careem has partnered with seven schools across Karachi, totaling 19 branches, where Careem Captains can induct their children at substantially discounted prices. Across all these schools, there is a discount of up to 50% for the children of Careem’s captains. Moreover, other expenses such as security deposits and annual charges for captain children will also be waived.
To avail this service, captains can go to their desired schools on the list given by Careem and show their Careem Captain App ID to the school’s administration. The rest will be taken care of by the officials of the company.
“Making education accessible to all is extremely important for Pakistan to prosper and we at Careem, are proud to play our part. Our captains are an important element of our network and educating their children is of extreme importance to us. After Karachi, we wish to expand the project in other cities of Pakistan as well,” said Mudassir Sheikha, CEO and Co-Founder of Careem Pakistan.
This isn’t the only effort made by Careem to aid the cause of education. The company has been making continues efforts to ensure it furthers this agenda. In Ramazan of 2017, Careem partnered with The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF) to raise USD 19,000 that covered the annual tuition fee of several TCF school students.
Like Careem, it is high time we understand our responsibility and ensure all the children in Pakistan get quality education at affordable rates.