In 1937, Deep Chand T. Ojha (DCTO), established a Gujrati/Sindhi primary school for the children in the Moosa Lane neighborhood. The school continued to be the preferred choice for schooling for most children even long after partition. In 1962, this school was upgraded to lower secondary, and in 1968, a new building was constructed to introduce a Girls’ Section, and adding Urdu medium section as well. The school turned into a full-fledged Secondary School in 1974.
However this institution saw a great decline after that resulting in poor standard of education and dilapidated school premises. By 2002, DCTO School had three double story buildings where 13 schools were running within the same premises, with 183 registered students but there were barely any children even attending school and those who did hardly getting educated. Following this, Lyari saw one of the most turbulent times in its long and rich history. In a war that had nothing to do with them, the children of Lyari had suffered the greatest loss. They fell to the side – ignored, neglected and often abused.
DCTO Government School is one of the oldest schools from pre-partition Sindh.
The school has seen many ups and downs over the decades. It was at one of its lowest points in 2014 when Kiran Foundation took it under its wings, with Akhuwat as its partner-in-adoption, through Sindh Education Foundation’s Adopt-a-School-Program. Kiran Foundation became the sole adopter and manager in 2016.
Under the compassionate approach of Kiran Foundation, the first year after adoption was called the “Healing Year”. The focus was to begin the process of emotional healing of children who had seen far too much for their age, and to bring the children back to school. For the first time in their lives, children experienced that learning could actually be fun.
Today the campus is a co-education school and educates 727 students and their mothers.
We are in the Fifth year of our adoption and the kiran school system is under the process of being implemented at the whole school level. We have managed to establish our system successfully in our elementary section and are working towards moving forward into primary and senior sections.
In the past history of a decade DCTO had not secure any A grade at the board level. Today our results show 30 percent of A and B grades. Three of our girl students made it to DA Degree College in 2018 completely on merit and were supported through our scholarship program.
35 students have found admission in mainstream schools after getting prepared in our preschool section. They have become a part of our Ambassadors Program.
DCTO - Timeline
The campus is divided into four blocks: Preschool, Admin Block, Primary Section and Secondary Section. The classrooms were redesigned to fit the needs of students according to their age. Outdoor and indoor play areas were added to the preschool section, and new furniture was placed in the classes. Library, Auditorium, Audio-Visual Room, Science Labs, IT lab, Art Room, School Clinic and a Mess/Cafeteria were added to the school.
Each and every space at the DCTO Campus has been mindfully created to bring out the best usage, functionality and beauty. You can sense the welcoming warmth the second you enter the school gates.
Feelings check-in: In preschool children learn about emotions at a young age, to facilitate an emotional vocabulary. Thus enabling them to express themselves freely and to be able to communicate effectively.
Every morning, preschoolers are asked how they feel, students pick up their name tag and peg it to the feeling that resonates most with them on the the feelings check-in chart. They are also encouraged to change their peg from one emotion to another, inculcating the idea that we are fluid and our feelings come and go. What’s important is to recognize how we feel and to be able to express it in a healthy way.
Wellness Period: Aim is to provide emotional release for children who may find it difficult to express through words at that age. Also to build coping tools, self-regulation and self-reflection in children at a young age so that they grow up to be healthy, balanced, and kinder human beings. (e.g. mindfulness program run by Ibadullah Shaikh consisting of drum circles, meditation, mindfulness based activities) this year we will be doing SEL in this period.
Words of Wisdom (WOW) Sessions are Guest Speaker sessions which are extremely inspiring for our students, giving them new role-models to look up to. Each guest speaker adds a new flavor to our students’ learning, and gives them new goals and dreams to strive for.
Also add something along the lines of: Youth all over the world is capable and full of potential. The only difference is some are privileged enough to get exposure and others are not. Through WOW sessions, we try to close this gap by bringing inspirational and knowledgeable individuals to our students – giving them the exposure they need to dream bigger.
Some of the notable guest speakers who came in the recent months
Abdullah Feroz – Director Burns Center Civil Hospital
Dr. ZakiuDin – President OPEN
Tariq Hashmi – Banker
Sabiha Ikhlaq – Professor Iqra University
Uzair Qarni – Director Academics NJV School
Syed Gazzanfar Agha – Motor vehicle enthusiast
Dr Bari – Chief Executive Officer, Indus Health Network
Nida Kirmani – Associate Professor of Sociology in the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the LUMS
Mohammad Bilal Munir – Fitness Trainer and
CEO Spartan Fitness
Kashan Khan – Musician
Waheed Noor – Activist and Lawyer
Students council elections
Every year the student’s council elections are the most sought out and enjoyable moments for the students. Everyone is hyped up to vote for their favorite leader.
A meticulous process is followed for elections and the students learn the value of their vote and how important it is to be mindful about selecting the right leader for themselves.
The selected council had to sign and oath to serve the students body with integrity and honour. They play a critical role in bridging the gap between students and teachers.
I was engaged with the Kiran School System under the Mental Health and Wellness department 2016-2018. The scope of my work covered self-care, stress relief tools & techniques, mindfulness, and self-regulation and leadership. The children were engaged in meditation, movement, and music to learn how to discover their inner strength and resilience. The trauma sensitive philosophy of the school system allowed me to build string bonds with the DCTO Govt. students, and Kiran Foundation alumni. Despite the range of challenges present in the environment, my time with the Kiran School System has been educational for me. I have grown, as a teacher, and as a human being. Whenever I visit Karachi, this is the first place on my mind..
Ibadullah Shaikh, Medical Qigong Instructor