Sindh Graduates Association (SGA) evolved from the coming together of a small group of enlightened individuals concerned over the poor level of development existing in Sindh. They wanted to contribute with their efforts and talents to a cause, which had not received attention it truly required.
The SGA has come a long way since it was first formed in 1972 as a non-profit, non-sectarian and non-political civil society organization. It is a registered body operating under Societies Registration Act (XXI) of 1860 registered from September 29, 1972. Today it boosts up a membership of over 9,000 graduate volunteers and 113 branches in 80 towns and villages of Sindh and a branch office in Islamabad.
At the beginning, the SGA might have seemed too ambitious to some for assisting the people of its region in the problems that stem from poverty and official lack of direction. It attempted to work in just about every field and discipline that needed attention to health, basic education, vocational training, income generation, emergency assistance and socio-cultural activism.
Following the principle of “for the people, by the people”, the SGA did not rely on any governmental or international assistance for the first 18 years of its existence. The volunteer members, including both management and field representatives, continued to mobilize funds from alternative sources throughout this period for what was to become a unique grass roots organizational effort in this part of the world. Only in 1990 for the first time its dedication and determination to its services received formal recognition through institutional assistance. Now the SGA has its strong base of funding, which is contributions by the members of the Association, donation by general public, grant in aid from governments of Pakistan and Sindh. The national and international organizations assigned various projects to the SGA and also gave donations. The ILO, UNICEF, UNESCO, CIDA, the World Bank, SPO, OXFAM, TVO, SEF, SDA, SANA, ActionAid Pakistan, RSPN, INFAQ Foundation, Khushhali Bank, USAID, Jummani family, etc. The Sindh Graduates Association was founded with the vision to build a peaceful developed society in Sindh and the aim was to coordinate efforts directed towards welfare and wellbeing of Sindh’s people. It is a non-political humane social organization recognizing inter-cultural and inter-personal interaction for national harmony and peace among all sectors of population and its objective was to empower the people to take decisions on their own and become partners in policy decision-making process so that sustainable development is ensured.
The management structure of the Association consists of Council of Members ( the highest decision-making body) with 191 members, Central Executive Committee (executing body) with 25 office-bearers and a 5-member Board of Directors (the advisory body). The Association has been working in the fields of education, health, emergency relief, environmental protection, rural water supply and sanitation, rights-based advocacy, social mobilization and poverty alleviation, human resource development, literature, arts and cultural activism for the last 41 years. The focus of the Association is chiefly centred on promoting education, improving health services, rights-based advocacy and raising awareness of people through printed material and organizing seminars, conferences and public forums.
The Association owns and manages 25 Roshan Tara Schools in different parts of the province, which provide better education to children on an affordable fees. The Association runs a 24-hour Emergency Medical Centre (YASMEC) at Super Highway which provides health services to the victims of road accidents, workers at Nooriabad industrial estate and also caters to the needs of Kohistan people of Dadu district. It arranges skin and eye camps in different parts of the province to address the health needs of the poor and underprivileged population in backward and inaccessible parts of the province.
It facilitates the youth by sponsoring limited scholarships specifically to bright, promising, poor and needy students of colleges and universities with the financial assistance of Mr Shabbir Ahmed Jumani family. It also makes an advocacy of people’s rights by holding seminars and workshops and publishing articles and statements to discourage violation of human rights.
The Association believes that women are an important segment of our society as they form over 50 per cent of the population and their education, health, nutrition and general well- being is our responsibility. Educated and healthy mothers only can build society and ensures development everywhere in the province. The women occupy an honourable place in an Islamic society and our original traditions. Unfortunately some people with intolerant male chauvinistic views and traditions disregard them. The causes of present state of women in our society can be traced back to mediaeval times and onwards to the evolution of feudal society in Kalhora and Talpur eras. The influence of feudal traditions and feudal psyche is attributable to this phenomenon. Education and awareness tools will help us change the behavior of the men in our society.
The Association is working on gender issues to promote women development in the province. It discourages all kinds of cruel acts that are inflicted on innocent women in the name of honour killings. That is why the Association is trying to mobilize the women to come forward and play a meaningful role in the society. There are many women members in the Association who are holding important offices in public and private sector. Some are associated with medical and legal professions. The organization has a track record of empowering poor and needy women in the districts of Dadu and Naushero Feroz it imparted vocational trainings (handicraft) and provided the women with credit facilities to help them supplement their family incomes to live a respectable life. The Association had also arranged human rights training to teachers of their Roshan Tara Schools to work as promoters of human rights in their respective areas. Keeping in view the drinking water problems in the province, the Association had provided water supply schemes to 14 villages in the districts of Thatta, Dadu, Khairpur, Larkana, Shikarpur and Jacababad with the financial assistance of the World Bank and public health engineering department, Government of Sindh. The Association had the credit of redesigning the models already developed by PHED that had a positive impact on water facilities and construction cost.
The Association established four computer centers, two Women Development Centres and two English Language Development Centers to promote education and learning in the province. Established, mother and child care centers and SGA Clinics (Jumma Clinics) that took care of the poor in backward areas of Karachi and other parts in the province. It also started ambulance services in different localities to provide 24 hours emergency transport service to the low-income groups. Adult and Youth Literacy Project: In order to promote literacy in Sindh, Sindh Graduates Association launched an adult and youth literacy programme in September 2005 initially for six months in Hala, Hyderabad district. The project was financed by USAID and technical support was provided by Education Sector Reform Assistance (ESRA). This programme covered three union councils in Hala — Bhitt Shah, Khyber and Bhanoth. This phase of project was completed in February 2005. Keeping in view the progress of first phase (RFA-I) another project was awarded that was an extension of the first phase. The second phase (RFA-II) began in January 2005. This phase covered 11 union councils in Hala Tehsil, Latifabad and Tando Allahyar of Hyderabad district and Sujawal Taluka in Thatta district. Under this project a target of 10,000 learners had to be achieved. Fortunately, the SGA went beyond the targets and succeeded in getting 11,846 learners enrolled at 399 centres. Out of 399 learning centers 212 centers were meant for female learners. The learners were taught to read, write, understand and calculate numbers. The success of the project lies in the fact that village communities had offered to run 97 centres out of 399 after the funding stopped. The project was completed in September 2005.
Sindh Graduates Association rendered emergency services in super flood in 2010 and set up a camp of affectees at Public School Gadap, Karachi where more than 4000 flood affectees were provided food, shelter and other necessary facilities for their livelihood for two months. Further, Sindh Graduates Association in collaboration with RSPN/USAID provided emergency and early recovery Project BAHAAL to the flood affected families and provided seeds/agree inputs, hygiene kits, hand pumps and 673 shelters at Khairpur Nathan Shah.
Due to heavy rains in 2011, the belongings of affected areas were washed away and water was standing for many days and their survival was become very difficult. Consequently, their livestock was badly affected and epidemics were out break in rain affected areas. In this critical situation, SGA provided medicine and hired medical teams for the treatment of rain affected livestock at Taluka Khipro and Shahpur Chakar, District Sanghar to save their sole source of economy.
Presently SGA is working on Social Mobilization with Khushhali Bank in District Larkana, Ghotki, Shikarpur, Mirpurkhas, Dadu and Naushahro Feroz since 2002 and facilitating Khushhali Bank Ltd to empower people and eliminate poverty. Sindh Graduates Association has been working with Rural Support Programmes Network and has formed a LSO at UC Khahi, Taluka Khipro, District Sanghar, where SGA LSO Project office has been running a coaching centre for needy and marginalized community’s girls and boys free of cost. Besides, a library is setup for their studies.
Keeping in view the remarkable experience in the field of Education since 1980 on self help basis. Presently SGA is operating 25 Roshan Tara Schools with the enrollment of 8624 students. These schools are imparting quality and standard education at a very low cost for rural and marginalized students of Sindh. Besides, Sindh Graduates Association has been implementing a mega project by launching Public School Gadap, Karachi in collaboration with Government of Sindh, Karachi under private public partnership policy. The Public School Gadap is a residential school, where initially 110 students have been enrolled and a qualified and experienced faculty has also been engaged. The Public School Gadap is running under the supervision and decision making body of most experienced and intellectuals’ members of Board of Governors.
The SGA is building on its three strengths — local supervision, operational autonomy at the branch level and strong community involvement to address the challenge of educating the future generations of Sindh. Combined with the willingness to experiment and innovate, characteristics shared by other NGOs to fill in the vacuum in Sindh today.