The CAP Life Skills program at the schools in Orangi Town, Karachi, Pakistan is a much needed intervention in the lives of young individuals struggling hard with the rage & frustration that the political and economic situation around them has forced upon them. The program teaches them to stretch their boundaries and turn problems in to opportunities. It encourages them to not become a victim but be a problem solver by utilizing various tools that the CAP Trainers try to introduce them to.
The program also focuses on creating space for open dialogues and actions while maximizing the capacity of students’ thought process. The program has resulted in visible positive change in the behavior of the beneficiaries there are however few things the curriculum designers and impact analysts can assess and improve.
Since the program has introduced skills and venues to the students that they were alien to, different students have received the training impact differently in the sense that some students or a class of students have been overshadowed by the others. Therefore, there is a need for the program facilitators and implementing partners to maintain an equilibrium in terms of program benefits to the beneficiaries.
The classroom has become a venue for students to express who they are and has become a space for them to be a part of the process to multiply their creativity thereby making good use of collective efforts and collective wisdom. What the program can also incorporate is the management of this process in an even way. The girls in the community don’t openly play or don’t get the opportunities of openly playing their part in their own society. The program provides them with a platform to explore their potential at the maximum which has paved their way to walk to the dominant and leadership role within the class with confidence. It has further instilled a sense of sisterhood among them where they stand by one another even when one of them is subjected to domestic violence or discrimination. They understand the issues of one another and have the spark to take a stand together or at least provide a comfort zone to one another. On the other hand the boys, most of them don’t have to deal with the issues that these girls face, are not able to integrate themselves properly within the social group activities where the girls dominate. The issue is the reconciliation of ideas. Boys, face a very different kind of issues such as pressure to support one political ideology / party when they are out in the streets or the issues of working to earn money, forced by their families or circumstances. The girls on the other hand have issues totally different from what boys face such as domestic violence, sexual harassment etc. This doesn’t mean that there are not issues common to both gender that they can work upon together, the real problem is the mixing of different perspectives.
The boys, who have more freedom out on the streets and where they are more vocal, are not able to be an equal part of classroom activities with girls. The number of girls in the class is higher than that of boys and the boys consider themselves a minority which is mainly because they are not able to connect with the issues that girls discuss or actions that they initiate. There is a need for finding more common grounds and not classifying a problem as a girls’ issue or a boys’ issue. The program can focus on showing a bigger and overall picture to the beneficiaries and make connections. The analysis of how different segments of the society are interconnected and the issue that one segment of society faces, may affect other segments too.
This can be addressed in many ways for example showing both genders how they can be a part of collective effort for a solution of any given issue and play an active part together. The need to create relevancy of effort and participation is vital here. Teamwork and efforts distribution is something that can help in achieving a better cooperation level in both the groups. Further, the campaign and problem solving ideas must be of domestic nature that are relevant to the daily lives of these students such as conflict resolution within their classes. Students can be asked to identify one issue that they face within their own classroom or with other students and how they can resolve it building upon which the students can develop a vision to look at a bigger picture such as the world outside their classroom like the street, community or the town / city they live in and how their and others’ actions affect one another.