SEO schools follow a Non-Formal Basic Education where schools are multi-grade institutions which provide primary education to children between the ages of 4- 14 years. This system is unique in that it is designed to circumvent those constraints that had previously kept these children out of schools.
These schools do not have any age restriction in any class therefore if a child of nine years has never been to school; they are able to start at Class 1. Another advantage of SEO schools is that they are located within the neighborhood, generally in the homes of the teachers. This is a great advantage since it gives parents the security to send their children, and particularly girls, to school. It is for this reason that over 65% of the students at SEO schools are girls.
Teachers of these schools are generally educated women of the community who are given support by SEO to open these one-room schools in their neighborhood, generally in their own homes. SEO provides them with the books/stationary, curriculum, blackboards, fans, water coolers, tarpaulin and floor mats. SEO teachers are given a short training course about how to teach in the non-formal system before they start teaching and then on six monthly basis, they are given an intensive refresher training course, which is held during the summer / winter holidays.
Quality of education is a top priority at SEO schools and it is for this reason that the students follow the same curriculum as those that study in the formal government system. This allows our children to integrate into the formal educational system at any stage during their academic training since they will appear in the same exams as the other children. There is also a three-tier system of monitoring to ensure the quality of the education at SEO schools. Each school is visited by a field coordinator once every 10 days in which the coordinator interacts with the teacher to ensure that her needs are being met in terms of supplies. Also, the field coordinator gets an update on school attendance, progress on the course as well as any problems that she may be facing in the school.
The MHU with its team of doctors also visits these schools every 12 weeks, which serves the purpose of monitoring as well since they are able to observe which schools are operating effectively and which are not. The Chairman, along with members of the Executive Committee, also makes periodic visits to the SEO schools. The Chairman also holds monthly meetings with the SEO teachers which give them the opportunity to address problems and concerns directly to the management of SEO as well as allows them to relate their achievements. This is an important feature in that it allows the teachers to network with each other as well as gives them an academic structure, in this otherwise flexible educational model. As of now, SEO has established 85 schools in Tehsil Kabirwala, District Khanewal. These schools have over 2700 children.
We emphasize on convincing the school teachers to use modern techniques of teaching by providing them essential methodological backup and by training them in latest teaching methods to help them improve all the four domains (cognitive, affective, psychomotor and social) of their students. In this regard, we conduct especially designed training workshops on six monthly basis for SEO school teachers.