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Save the Children Sweden
It is estimated that there currently are 10,000 operational religious educational institutions or ‘Madrassahs’ in Pakistan, although recent estimates put the figure as high as 25,000, housing approximately 1,065,277 students. The madrassahs often become an alternate source of education for children belonging to poor socio-economic backgrounds, but even though sizable numbers of children attend these religious seminaries, few policies and programmes in the country strive to address their specific needs. The madrassahs have little or no room for modern knowledge, and after graduation, these children have no orientation of modern educational disciplines, greatly limiting their options for learning a sustainable livelihood for themselves and breaking away from the vicious circle of poverty. It is against this backdrop that Save the Children Sweden decided to pilot the Madrassah Mainstream Project in seven madrassahs of District Kasur in Pakistan, with the primary aim to promote protection of children in religious schools and provide formal education, making the madrassah environment sensitive to children’s development and protection needs and increasing interaction with formal schools to assist the process of their mainstreaming into formal education systems.