Set up in 1978, Alif Laila Book Bus Society’s basic objective is to evolve solutions to Pakistan’s educational problems and within the given socio-economic constraints, find strategically effective paths to 100% literacy and educational modernization, which would show the quickest results in the most cost effective manner. ALBBS has been bringing the magic of books and literature to children in Pakistan since the past 30 years. The organization established the first children’s libraries in Pakistan.
“Enhancing the capabilities and understanding of all girls and young women, to create in them a sense of wonder, an urge to explore, experiment, discover, understand and innovate so that their thought processes become independent and they develop in themselves the necessary self confidence to speak up for their rights and advocate for change. We provide hands on learning in varied disciplines to increase their skills and powers of innovation.”
Ms. Nita Baker, working at The American School in Lahore, took the initiative of setting up a library for children to harness their reading potential. She came up with an innovative idea to attract children by setting up a Library in a Double Decker bus donated by the Punjab Road Transport Corporation. Both decks of the bus were stacked with English and Urdu books. The society, realizing the importance of access of this library to students from government schools and ensuring their safety, persuaded the Lahore Development Authority and succeeded to establish a children’s park around the Stationed Bus Library.
There are three innovative libraries to attract children of all age groups.
The Book Bus or the stationed bus library is exclusively for children up to 8 years and below. The bus has two decks; the upper deck is for story telling where a female teacher narrates stories to children while the lower deck is stacked with books.
The second library called “Daastangou” or “The Story Teller” is situated in a mobile bus which caters to those children who cannot come to the stationed bus or reference library.The other is a reference library comprising of 5000 books on various topics. Girls of any age can use this facility whereas boys under 15 can avail this opportunity. In 2007 a total of 1,495 children from both government and private schools enrolled as members. In addition to regular members, these libraries also receive visits from other schools that bring their students for a field trip.
In the eighties ALBBS started its project based learning and skill centres, these are public private collaboration in education where girls from different Government schools get education in computers, electronics, arts and crafts.
Through this unique model Alif Laila provides, practical, hands on training, free of cost to young school girls to prepare them for a world that thrives on skill, innovation and creativity. There are four clubs, namely:
Art and Design Club
We also provide free transportation to, and from the resource centers. The community also benefits from the resource centers. Special computer classes are offered in the afternoon for women from the community to provide them the opportunity to learn important skills, which otherwise would be unavailable to them.
Members of the Reference and Stationed Bus Library can use these clubs. No additional fee is charged from the students. Each club has a 1-year course taught by qualified instructors. At the completion of the course a certificate is awarded to the students.
The Society has also been engaged in developing education material for young children. This material includes:
Interactive learning aids
Audio visual productions
Educational rugs & posters.
The idea behind developing educational material is to make learning fun and interactive to ensure meaningful learning.
These students are also provided an opportunity to visit the Stationed Bus library on a weekly basis.Government Primary Schools in Basti Saidan Shah were not sufficient to accommodate children coming to them for admission. On the request of the local community ALBBS initiated its activities in a middle school by starting classes from Nursery to Grade III and providing activity based learning.
Alif Laila is one of the very few organizations in Pakistan that has expertise in setting up learning resource centers, mobile resource centers and libraries for children. ALBBS has set up libraries in far off areas through out Pakistan.
Alif Laila also conducts teacher training workshops and advocacy campaigns specifically to promote reading habits in children.
Alif Laila also hosts the Punjab chapter of PCE. Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) is a coalition of civil society partners and individuals joined together to raise voice on the issues surrounding the education sector in Pakistan and advocate the same.
ALBBS also hosts the Pakistan chapter of IBBY international. The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children.
NPO Certification Award by Pakistan centre for Philanthropy
2006 Common Wealth Education Best Practice Award