DEAF REACH SCHOOLS - FOR THE DEAF
There are more than 1 million school-age deaf children in Pakistan, but less than 5% of them attend school. Deaf Reach is a program of the Family Educational Services Foundation (FESF) and operates seven schools across the country that specifically address the needs of the deaf. Deaf Reach played a key role in the development of sign language in Pakistan and today looks after around 1,200 students . We are proud to have sponsored four students from Deaf Reach since November of this year.
HISTORY OF CREATION
Deaf Reach began as a deaf information center and community in Karachi in 1991 and expanded in 2012 with the opening of the first school for 30 deaf children. In November this year, the seventh campus of Deaf Reach Schools was opened in Lahore. A majority of deaf children come from slums and live on the edge of poverty. They face the daily threats of poverty and the risk of being abused or exploited. Deaf Reach has created a safe haven for these children and has spent the last three decades educating them. In addition to school training, the deaf young people receive vocational training and are then placed with suitable companies to start their careers. In addition, Deaf Reach runs additional programs to train parents, family members and teachers of the deaf.
Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, deaf students are facing school closures and delays in their learning. Marginalized by deafness and socioeconomic status, children and their families often lack access to critical and important information related to health, awareness and protection. That's why FESF provided over 1,300 deaf families with sufficient and wholesome food rations in the months of April, May, June and July. Educational and informational videos in sign language have been continuously sent to deaf communities across the country. With the newly introduced Distance Learning Program, Deaf Reach provides its students with school education even in these uncertain times. A digitized sign language curriculum for all grade levels was loaded onto laptops and a device was made available to all students. The videos and content on the laptops will not only benefit the students of the Deaf Reach schools, but will also be available free of charge to all schools, teachers, students and their families via the Sign Language for Pakistan website.
IN ADDITION TO SCHOOL TRAINING, THE DEAF YOUNG PEOPLE RECEIVE VOCATIONAL TRAINING AND ARE THEN PLACED INTO SUITABLE COMPANIES TO START A CAREER
In April 2020, EdTech Hub UK , a World Bank-funded initiative, launched a global call for ideas in response to the Covid-19 school closures that can have a quick impact but also improve crisis resilience and systems in the long term can strengthen. Of the 371 applications, FESF was the only Pakistani organization to be selected among the six finalists and will serve as a “ sandbox ” in the coming months . In a sandbox, interventions proposed by EdTech are tested and optimized. This is just one of many other awards that Deaf Reach has received over the years and is testament to the pioneering work that all employees at Deaf Reach do to enable disadvantaged deaf people to receive an education.