Building Schools: Tameer-e-School Can Leverage The Power Of The Internet

TSP_003

The Tameer-e-School project (TSP) is an initiative of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (KP) govt for the rehabilitation of public schools in the province.

I first heard about it in a radio advert and so I decided to check out their website. I was pleasantly surprised to see the site load so quickly :). It’s a rarity to see any Pakistani govt site load quickly and this was a nice exception. It also made me explore the site a bit more.

After going through what the project is about, I thought, “Why isn’t this being done with the money allotted to them (the govt) in the fiscal budget?” So I dug around and found that the amount allocated to education in the fiscal budget is not sufficient to cover this project. Why it’s insufficient is topic for another post; for the time being I’ll only cover what TSP aims to do and how it can do it better online.

Like I said before, TSP’s primary purpose is to furnish existing public schools in KP with the basic facilities of clean water, washrooms, furniture, etc. Don’t be surprised, there are actually several schools out here in Pakistan that don’t have any of these essentials, not even a boundary wall for that matter. The TSP seeks funds from expats, public and private organisations to achieve its objective. On their website, you will find complete information about the project and its governing bodies, namely the Elementary Education Foundation (EEF) and the KP Govt. The website is pretty comprehensive in the sense that it explains how you can donate and exactly how your donated funds would reach the designated schools. You can contribute and track your contribution plus also monitor the status of the school(s) you donated to.

When the project first kicked off, the site only listed public schools from 5 districts in KP, but there’s also an option to add more schools to it. So if there’s a school in your district that you think should be part of TSP, you can add it from the website. TSP also has a Facebook and Twitter page both of which are being used to promote the project.

How TSP Can Do More With The Internet

  • Menus
  • When I first went on the TSP website, I completely missed the menus. The home page is quite impressive and completely holds your attention but once you get over it and want to know more, it takes some time locate the menus. They could definitely do with a larger font so that they’re more upfront.

  • Dashboard
  • The site is missing a dashboard. Right now if I want to see how many schools in total have achieved full funding and how many are left, I can’t do that easily. There’s too much friction in the process. A dashboard showing the funding status of all schools would provide a quick overview of how the project is doing in general. It would also be a much better way to engage the audience. If the dashboard were to list the schools in order of which ones are closest to achieving their target, with a big Donate Now button next to them, chances are, more people would click the button to help the ones closest to the finish line.

  • Contribute Now/Donations Page
  • Coming to the Contribute Now page, this is where you make your donation from. Interestingly, once you’ve made a donation, there’s no way to share this information on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll find Twitter and Facebook widgets at the bottom of every page on the website but those aren’t for sharing. They’re links to the TSP Facebook and Twitter pages.

    Enabling social sharing on this page would definitely provide more exposure to the program as well as the school to which a person is donating. Trust me when I say this, people like to share when they feel good about themselves, whether it’s a personal achievement or a donation to a social cause.

  • Widgets and Donate Now Buttons
  • Providing widgets or Donate Now buttons to people to put on their blogs would surely fast forward the funding process. Everyone is maintaining a blog these days and social media helps blogs in going viral. Piggybacking on these resources would bring attention to TSP faster than through standalone Facebook and Twitter accounts.

  • Blog
  • The website lacks a blog which I think is a big deficiency. TSP could keep the public informed by posting articles on the blog about the status of the project. The milestones being achieved, how the facilities are affecting enrolment, people’s comments in videos, how the govt plans to maintain the facilities once they’ve been set up, etc, etc. The posts can then be shared on TSP’s official Facebook and Twitter pages which would increase user engagement on these platforms.

  • Crowd Funding and Online Market Places
  • While looking for more projects like this on the internet, I stumbled upon GlobalGiving. It’s a site that connects donors with projects in developing countries. There are presently 75 projects for Pakistan on this site. TSP could use the platform to increase its outreach through such sites or through crowd funding platforms like Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Launching campaigns for the project on these platforms would bring more traction since these are extremely popular sites all over the world. Thousands of projects are being funded through these platforms all across the globe everyday and the best part is that the audience is much more diverse than what the TSP is currently getting funds from.

These are just a few things that came to my mind. If you think more could be done, do share in the comments.
Tameer-e-School is a good project and if executed properly, it could bring a major change in KP’s elementary and secondary school education. Many of you may not agree to the idea of getting donations from the public for a project that should essentially be covered from the provincial budget. But there are so many things wrong at so many levels in our country, that if we get down to setting them straight, initiatives like these would never see the light of day.
We always judge performances by results. If this project achieves what it has set out to do, that would be a tangible result; a sign of hope that there’s still honesty, hard work and passion being put into projects in Pakistan.

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