The first batch of 18 students who are suffering from various types of cancers and other chronic ailments completed their elementary level education and were honoured at a graduation ceremony held at The Indus Hospital, Karachi, on Friday.
Indus Hospital officials said when Pakistani children are diagnosed with cancer or other chronic ailments, their physicians ask them to stop attending school for the duration of their treatment.
In order to overcome this issue, the hospital has launched a hospital-based schooling program to ensure that these children are able to continue with their education during their treatment and hospitalisation.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Indus Hospital Dr Abdul Bari Khan said that though a large number of children of school-going age are out-of-school in Pakistan, The Indus Hospital is making sure that young patients receive quality education.
“Indus Ke Sitaray is a hospital-based school which was initiated in June 2018. Its objective is to impart education to children undergoing treatment for childhood cancer and any other chronic disease with a prolonged treatment,” Dr Khan said and added that the first batch of 18 students had completed elementary level education and it was a proud moment of them, their parents as well as Indus Hospital and their teachers.
He said the graduation ceremony was organised by the Indus Hospital management to recognise achievements of these patients and acknowledge the efforts of volunteer teachers and supporters. Eminent pediatric oncologist Dr Shamvil Ashraf said education and schools are an integral part of every child’s life, but children suffering with cancer and other chronic diseases have to forgo not just their schooling, but also social gatherings and public outings.
Evidence from existing hospital schooling programs suggests that transitioning back to school after a prolonged treatment can be both emotionally and academically tough, he added.
He said that Indus Ke Sitaray has been established in collaboration with Shahwilayat Public School (SWiPS), whereby SWiPS has shared their curricula, as per the Aga Khan University-Examination Board (AKU-EB), with Indus Hospital.
Currently, the school has two teachers and a small classroom, but soon it will extend its services to offer education for all grade levels to hospitalised and under-treatment children. The school covers the curriculum in much lesser time than a normal school term. The program was attended by students, their families, Indus Hospital faculty and board members, and the Faculty and Board Members of Shahwilayat Public School.
The event started with the graduating procession marching in, followed by the national anthem and recitation of the Holy Quran by students, and speeches of D Abdul Bari Khan, CEO, Indus Health Network (IHN) and Dr Shamvil Ashraf, Executive Director, Medical Services, IHN. Speeches were followed by performances. Students received their graduation certificates at the end of the program.