Reflections on DIL School Visits

By: Brenda Erlinger, DIL’s Program Development Director

Nowhere are DIL’s values of continuous improvement and hope for the future more palpable than at DIL Schools. Visiting our schools in Rawalpindi, Orangi, and Khairpur recently served as an important reminder of the impact our work is having on children, teachers, and communities. This blog post is the first of three installments about reflections on a few of the schools located in very different areas visited during this recent trip.

As one of DIL’s outermost schools in Rawalpindi, Piana Phimal sees few visitors outside of regular DIL monitoring and support. The principal and teachers wanted to know whether the ride along the dirt road deep into this rural area had been too bumpy. Not at all, but their genuine concern was heartening. Upon entering the school walls into a small courtyard, I could hear the eager voices of children reading aloud in one classroom and engaged in discussion in another. I peeked my head in the class filled with eager readers, not wanting to disrupt the class. I was delighted to see these third graders confidently navigating tablets and reading the stories with impressive fluency, which I was later able to observe more fully in my individual and small group interactions.

Later I was able to chat with the principal and teachers who talked excitedly about the recent student-led Reading Carnival event presented as part of USAID funded Read to Grow Read to Know: E-Libraries for Rural Schools.

They talked of parents in prideful tears as they watched their children confidently reading in English from the tablets, skills many of these adults had not had the opportunity to learn themselves.

As one teacher explained it, “they could not understand the stories in English, but they knew that it was English.” And as everyone there knows, English language skills are the gateway to higher levels of education and a brighter future.

During the long car ride back from Piana Phimal to Islamabad, I couldn’t help but wonder whether these bright, determined kids would be reading in English, let alone in school at all if this DIL School did not exist. The truth is without the committed, sustained efforts of DIL’s fundraising Chapters and the generosity of individual donors this school would not be there. On behalf of the DIL school community and eager readers in Piana Phimal, thank you for your continued support!

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