Skoll Foundation


The Citizens Foundation

Skoll Awardee(s): Mushtaq Chhapra
Award Year: 2013
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Education

(Click here to print)


The education system in Pakistan, the world’s sixth largest country, is broken:

  • 25 million children are out-of-school, including 7 million at the primary school level.
  • Only two out of every 10 children reach the fifth grade.
  • National literacy is 57 percent; and female literacy is 45 percent.


The Citizens Foundation (TCF) provides affordable primary and secondary private education to low-income students in Pakistan’s urban slums and rural areas, with a focus on girls. Its model enables it to navigate Pakistan’s unique cultural environment and country constraints, allowing it to be much more effective in attracting and retaining female students. Its model includes:

  • Robust training for teachers and principals, all of whom are female to appease the parents of girls;
  • Building safe and secure schools in close vicinity to its students’ homes;
  • Fees that are relative to a family’s income
  • Small class sizes limited to no more than 30 students (other schools can  have as many as 100 students in a class); and,
  • Gaining family buy-in, transforming often illiterate parents into believers in education;


TCF is building a model for effective, affordable education in Pakistan, and is exploring various ways to achieve systems change now that its own schools have reached a critical mass. It:

  • Provides formal low cost education to 145,000 children enrolled in 1000 schools spread over 100 locations across Pakistan
  • Has 7,700 all-female teachers and principals, and has a 50% female student body, compared to 15-20 percent in TCF communities
  • Has relatively lower dropout rate vs. the 45 percent national dropout rate
  • Has a 92 percent pass rate at matriculation level vs. the national average of 56 percent
  • Provides economic opportunities for women through teacher and principal training and employment and increases the economic development of many community members, such as those who work in the schools and mothers who receive literacy training
  • Has 1,000 more than 11,500 total employees.
  • Shifts attitudes within TCF communities toward female education.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.