Leslie Mass, Ph.D, Wonderstruck by TCF

What are your impressions, observations of TCF — as an organization?

“For impressions of The Citizens Foundation and from my lens, as a Peace Corps Volunteer of the early 1960’s and a retired educator, I met and interviewed many people from every level of TCF — from its Founders to ayaas (maids) at TCF schools — in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Khanewal, Sheikhupura and Keti Bundar. Everyone was most gracious and I came away with a wealth of information about how TCF works and an intuitive and objective understanding of why. My questions were intentionally open-ended i.e., “Tell me how you came to be involved with TCF” or “How do you think TCF will be in the future?”

I asked a lot of different people about their experiences with education in Pakistan and did a lot of listening. Most people I talked with had little respect for the government in general and no trust in government schools, but full faith in TCF. My overall impression of TCF employees is that they are happy to be part of the TCF family and are eager to show their organization off to its best advantage.”

For the bigger picture of national education, how would you suggest ‘rebuilding’ or reform of Pakistan’s education system? Does TCF provide a model for national reform?

“The work of TCF exemplifies the commitment to education and educational reform that is missing from the public sector. A management system is essential. TCF offers a transparent and accountable management model that the government must follow as it begins to rebuild the public education system. Teacher training, affordability, accessibility for students and realistic options for families are essential. TCF is built on this foundation and they are willing to share their expertise with government and non‐government organizations. This must be done.”

Based on your 2009 visit to Pakistan, and interactions with people at TCF and elsewhere, you are complimentary of the abilities of Pakistanis and their capacity to solve the problems faced by Pakistan today. What is the basis for your optimism?

“As a school system, TCF is responsive to the people it serves. It operates with a sense of responsibility, accountability, purpose, and dignity at every level. Its commitment to providing good schools that are accessible and affordable in a way that includes all Pakistanis — the privileged as well as the disenfranchised — justifies my optimism. In addition to interviews, I also had the opportunity to observe TCF workers in action. I was amazed at the efficiency and resourcefulness I saw at every level.”