Gulmeena is one of many young girls in Pakistan who is quietly looking for opportunities to break the glass ceiling. However, for most girls like Gulmeena, finding opportunities that would help her advance her personal goals are often hard to find. Unlike young boys her age, she cannot venture out of her house after school hours or spend much time with girls her age.
Growing up in a sheltered community, Gulmeena was a shy girl who often did not speak up in class. That is why, when she informed her teachers that she would be participating in Learn Smart Pakistan’s seasonal challenge, most of them were discouraging. “What makes you think that you will be able to compete with some of the brightest students from across the country?” one of her teachers asked when Gulmeena shared her desire to enroll in Pakistan’s only digital education-based challenge for students.
Gulmeena is one of over 103,000 boys and girls from over 10,000 public and private schools from across Pakistan that use Learn Smart Pakistan (www.learnsmartpakistan.org) to help better understand concepts at their own pace, play interactive games and activities related to the lesson and take thousands of assessments to help them understand which concepts they are strong in, and which concepts need more work.
“I was a very quiet student who was taught to never question a teacher,” Gulmeena remarks when she thinks back to her conversation with her school teachers. “However, I would not let their sentiments discourage me, rather, I took it on as a personal challenge.”
Over the summer holidays, Gulmeena practiced long and hard to hone her skills on Learn Smart Pakistan, an online, free-to-use self-learning platform for any Pakistani student. “At first my parents were apprehensive about letting me use the internet for many hours each day, but once they saw that it was an educational website that would help me perform even better in school the next year, they grew more relaxed,” Gulmeena remembers.
The moment of truth came when Gulmeena’s hard work and perseverance paid off and she was recognized as one of the top 5 performing students at the end of the challenge. “Once I was informed by the KP team that I was one of the top-performing students in the challenge, I proudly walked up to my teacher who had little belief in my ability to perform,” Gulmeena said. The teacher was still undeterred in her view and refused to believe Gulmeena. “I then asked her to pull up the Learn Smart Pakistan (LSP) page where the announcement had been made, and it was not until she saw my name that she actually believed me,” Gulmeena remarked.
Gulmeena, once a shy student on the periphery, is now front and center in her advocacy for girls to pursue quality education. “Once I heard that LSP had launched new lessons for younger grades, I immediately got my younger cousins to enroll in the program.” Gulmeena says, “Not only has LSP given me the opportunity to prove my abilities to myself and disprove naysayers, but it has also given me the confidence to get up on any forum and speak about my personal experiences, which have got me where I am today.”
Pictured below is Guleema speaking at Knowledge Platform’s 4th Annual Education Forum in November of last year, where she was invited back to deliver a keynote speech on her pursuit for quality education for herself and other girls like her! It had been 4 years since Gulmeena made her debut speech at KP’s first education forum.