Education Champion Network

Umme Kalsoom Seyal

Executive Director, Social Youth Council of Patriots (SYCOP) Champion since 2018
“Many girls have enrolled in school because of our work but there’s more to be done. I believe that with more opportunities, we can discover even more potential.”
Mobilising community members to identify barriers to girls’ education and develop solutions

The Issue

Girls in the southern region of Punjab — one of the poorest areas of Pakistan — often drop out of school after primary school and don’t return. Parents don’t see the long-term economic benefits of educating their daughters and instead choose to marry them off, believing it is a better way to secure their future. The region’s shortage of female teachers and secondary schools also prevents girls from completing 12 years of education. 

Umme Kalsoom’s approach

Policy Reform

As the co-founder and executive director of Social Youth Council of Patriots (SYCOP), Umme campaigns to improve girls’ education in Punjab. She works with government schools to increase enrolment rates and runs girls’ community schools in places where there aren’t public schools. 

With her Malala Fund grant, Umme launched a new programme in Punjab bringing together government officials, civil society representatives and community elders to discuss the educational needs of girls in the area. These community groups develop and implement plans to address the barriers to girls’ education. SYCOP and Umme plan to replicate the model in other districts in the province. Umme also trains local female councillors and religious leaders to support policies that promote girls’ education.

Umme Kalsoom’s impact

In 2019, SYCOP developed a plan to mobilise their community groups in Muzaffargarh to support girls’ education. The groups now lobby the government to increase the number of elementary and secondary schools for girls, implement girls’ strident policies, ensure girls have hygienic bathroom facilities and improve the quality of teacher trainings. Following the group’s advocacy, girls’ schools in Muzaffargarh started holding evening classes so girls who must work during the day can continue their education at night. 

Umme and SYCOP trained 114 women councillors in the subdistrict of Tehsil Muzaffargarh to identify issues in school facilities and address the barriers preventing girls from receiving a quality secondary education. The councilors are now resolving administrative issues in schools by establishing school management committees and canvassing door to door to enrol more girls in school. 

SYCOP also met with government officials and religious and community leaders in Muzaggargarth to discuss every girl’s right to learn. They encouraged these leaders to improve gender gaps in access to education by building new secondary schools for girls, enforcing the Right to Education laws and extending the constitutional guarantee for free and quality education to 12 years.

More about Umme Kalsoom

Organization's Facebook: SYCOP

There are 11 other Education Champions working in Pakistan.