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All TCF school units have purpose-built campuses, designed by reputed architects. The school buildings are equipped with well ventilated and fully furnished classrooms, an administrative block, library, science labs, computer labs, a play area, an art room and all necessary facilities to provide students with a stimulating learning environment.
A standard primary school of TCF has a total covered area of 6,000 to 6,500 sq feet, 6 classrooms and a capacity for 180 students. While a standard secondary school of TCF has an approximate area of 15,000 to 16,000 sq feet, 10 classrooms, capacity for 360 students and well-equipped facilities, including computer and science (physics, chemistry and biology) laboratories.
No Entry-level Tests
The aim of TCF is to promote education and provide educational opportunities to all those who are less privileged; therefore there are no admission tests. However, beyond entry-level, tests are conducted in order to determine in which grade the child should be admitted.
Apart from education, TCF students also participate in extracurricular activities. Students participate in art and many other competitions, go on regular field trips, and organize functions or events on important national days, such as Independence Day.
Parent Teacher Meetings
Parent teacher meetings are also held quarterly, with the purpose of informing the parents about the progress of their child or children, and how they can help through efforts at home. An important objective of these parent teacher meetings is to reinforce upon the parents the importance of their roles in their child's education and encourage them to invest in their child's future.
The drop-out rate at TCF school units is very low, less than 1%; and these are only those children who moved to another town with their parents. This shows that almost all the students complete at least primary or secondary education at TCF institutes.
The Citizens Foundation aims to bring qualitative and quantitative improvement in the education sector of Pakistan by providing primary and secondary level education. TCF students are charged nominal fee while 95% scholarship is provided along with textbooks and uniforms on a "pay as you can afford" basis. Scholarships are provided on the basis of average household income and expenses of each family. Applicants provide necessary details regarding their family income and expenditures and the school staff visits the applicant's homes to verify the information. The principals then send completed scholarship forms to the Regional Office where final decision is taken whether to award scholarship or not. Usually, scholarships are given for one year, after which the students can reapply. However, many deserving and meritorious students are provided with textbooks and uniforms free of cost.
TCF Curriculum is designed in a way to promote an interactive, child-focused teaching approach with emphasis on hands-on activities that help children explore, understand, and enjoy the learning process. The curriculum is a blend of concepts identified in Pakistan's National Curriculum and themes from other international curricula. The curriculum also includes activities important for personal and moral development.
TCF uses different textbooks to achieve the set benchmarks. Along with the books prescribed by different Textbooks Boards, TCF has introduced books and material by leading publishers as well. The academic team has also developed various handbooks and detailed Teachers Guides for various subjects to strengthen the process of teaching and learning.
TCF believes that learning is holistic and therefore physical education, art and activities related to social and moral development form an essential part of the curriculum. TCF children regularly participate in games, sports and art work with help of activities and guidelines highlighted in the handbooks. The schools also organize annual Students Week, during which various competitions are held for children including poster painting, essay writing, speeches and debates.
Teachers at TCF are strictly selected on merit. The vacant posts are advertised in newspapers and applicants are short listed according to the announced criteria. The short listed candidates are invited for interview through individual letters. Panel interviews are conducted and the selected candidates are then given formal appointment letters. The level of qualification depends on the classes that the selected teachers are to be assigned. At primary TCF schools, the minimum qualification for hired teachers is matriculation; while at the secondary level minimum qualification for the teachers is graduation. However, the principals and English language teachers must be graduates. Many teachers at TCF hold a master's degree.
The Citizens Foundation recognizes that the employees are its most important resource. TCF is committed to training and developing the entire workforce of the organization, particularly school staff. The Training team rigorously works with the school heads to empower them by developing their management and leadership skills.
In order to impart quality education to the TCF students, a Teacher Training Center was established in Karachi in 1997. Every new teacher hired is given four-weeks of extensive Pre-Service Training (PRESET) before they can teach at a TCF school. The responsibility of the training center does not end with Pre-Service Training. These training centers closely evaluate the teachers' performance during the academic year and provide training sessions from time to time as per requirement of the curriculum. Annual In-Service Training (INSET) or development training is given to teachers to update their knowledge and equip them with latest teaching skills and techniques.
These trainings are provided by selected skilled trainers who go through a comprehensive Training of Trainer (TOT) program. This equips them to successfully impart ideas and share their experiences during PRESET and INSET.
Monitoring and Evaluation
The Citizens Foundation has established an effective system to monitor and evaluate its activities. The system is fine-tuned regularly to ensure its effectiveness and relevance. The Monitoring and Evaluation Team reinforces accountability, transparency and organizational learning through a thorough systematic evaluation of policies, programs, people and processes.
The team measures the quality and impact of work produced at schools by principals, teachers and students. Each school and its faculty are evaluated by the evaluation team. All aspects of the school including its administration and performance of its faculty are evaluated on the basis of established criteria. This performance evaluation enables them to upgrade their systems, conduct career planning for their academic staff and design annual refresher trainings for their faculty.
TCF Monitoring and Evaluation Team conducts two centralized exams in an academic year - Mid Term exams and Final Term exams. Students' results are entered in MIS to enable report generation and future planning.
Evaluation of schools is based on both, process and outcome. Total quality management is an ongoing process at TCF.
Beyond School - Higher Education
TCF Education Program is based on the idea that no child should ever be deprived of the right to get education and avail opportunities that arise as a result.
TCF Alumni Program
TCF schools graduates face considerable difficulties in availing higher education opportunities due to their financial limitations. TCF Alumni Program was launched in March 2006 as part of TCF's effort towards a society where no student if left behind in pursuit of education just because he or she can't afford it.
TCF Alumni Fund provides financial assistance for higher education to students graduating from TCF secondary schools. Moreover, counseling is also conducted to help these students with their educational and professional decisions. Students are provided with scholarships based on their academic performance, which are funded by donors. They are provided continuous guidance through admissions, college entry tests and how to choose their majors.
The first batch of TCF students passed their Matriculation exams in 2002-2003. Currently, more than 1,000 students are enrolled in intermediate and bachelor programs in government-run and private colleges and universities.
After successful completion of Matriculation and/or Intermediate, some TCF students choose to apply for jobs or short term trainings. Some are working in reputable organizations. Recently one of the students got admission in Dow Medical University. One of the students of TCF is working at TRG, a reputable call centre, and earning sufficient income to support her family. Others pursue higher studies. As of 2012, 4,000 TCF students have graduated and passed with flying colors. Some students are currently enrolled in some of the top business institutes of Pakistan such as Bahria University, CBM, FAST, IBA, SMC and SZABIST). A TCF student Anum Fatima is studying at College of Business Management (IoBM). More than 1,600 students have been awarded scholarships to pursue further education.
Applicants for scholarships provide the necessary details to the Alumni Department, which then reviews their academic performance at school with the help of recommendations by the teachers and school principals. Each student's case is individually assessed and approved by the scholarship committee. Scholarships are offered to HSC and Graduate level students who are currently studying in colleges or universities.
In order to further TCF education program, partnerships and alliances have been formed with different companies and institutions that are committed towards investing in the areas that are important for sustainable development in Pakistan.
Collaboration with British Council
TCF and British Council in Karachi have recently collaborated for new programs which have been designed around physical education and training for teaching English.
English for Teaching - Teaching for English (ETTE)
A new project - training program, 'English for Teaching - Teaching for English' or ETTE - was implemented in partnership with the British Council. TCF and British Council worked together on modifying the content, adapting it to TCF context, and linking it with the previous cycle's training on Critical Thinking. This program aimed to improve the teaching skills of English Language Teachers (ELTs) and strengthen their linguistic skills.
In March 2011, this training program was conducted by British Council trainers and provided to 60 ELTs from TCF network in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi. These 60 trainers then took the program forward to more than 600 ELTs during the annual in-service training (INSET). Significant costs related to both material development and training were funded by British Council.
International Inspirations - Physical Education
This year, eight members from TCF faculty attended 'International Inspirations', which is a Physical Education (PE) program aligned with London 2012 Olympics, initiated by the British Government.
This program aimed to promote high quality physical education by establishing partnerships between schools in the developing countries and schools in Britain.
With regard to this, a Principal from each of the four TCF regions was selected to attend 4 day training in Karachi in the month of January. A follow-up training was conducted in the UK in March, where the first TCF group comprising two principals and members of the HO and Regional teams participated in a 5 day Training program. TCF representatives were given the opportunity to interact with their partner schools and establish a relationship for taking the program to the next level. The second group from TCF, comprising the other 2 principals travelled to UK in July 2011. All costs related to the training were borne by British Council.