The Open Society Foundations began working with Pakistan in 2005, supporting local groups working on education and then providing emergency funds after that year’s devastating earthquake. In 2008, it established a local presence, with the launch of the Foundation Open Society Pakistan under an agreement with the government. Today, we support an array of local civil society groups that share our vision of a society where government is open to all, and where no one faces discrimination because of who they are, or how they live.
Our work has focused on funding individuals and organizations working in five areas: education, human rights and justice, government transparency, effective public policy, and the support of independent media. We draw on local knowledge and expertise in our grant making by relying entirely on a staff of Pakistani nationals. They are guided by an advisory board that includes some of Pakistan’s most respected thought leaders.
We work alongside other international funders, and generally provide no more than one-third of any group’s total annual budget, to ensure their independence and sustainability. In addition to nongovernmental groups, we have also worked closely with all levels of governments.
Nine facts about the work of Open Society Foundations in Pakistan:
- We have taken a leading role in the creation of a national center of excellence for early childhood care and education—working closely with the Ministry of Education in Islamabad.
- We support the Annual Status of Education Report for Pakistan, a household-based survey that assesses trends on quality, learning, equity, and access to education.
- We introduced Critical Thinking in Education, a professional development program for teachers that links curriculum reform, textbook development, and the assessment system. In 2011, we also helped launch a Children’s Literature Festival.
- We have worked with Pakistan’s Rural Support Program Network, the largest network of NGOs in Pakistan, to train community-based paralegal advisors in remote villages.
- Our support for independent journalism has included helping to establish the Pakistan Coalition for Media Safety, which provides assistance to journalists in distress, as well as documenting and monitoring threats to journalists.
- Our efforts to support young people include backing Bolo Jawan (Voice of Youth) a news website supplied by hundreds of independent “citizen journalists” across the country.
- We fund the work of the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives, which provides independent research to the Punjab provincial government on budget, tax, and economic issues.
- We helped local organizations across Pakistan carry out “community social audits” of government-funded projects, such as clinics and schools, aimed at ensuring the most effective use of public funds.
- The Open Society Foundations has responded to international appeals for emergency relief funding in Pakistan, delivering $6 million after the devastating 2010 monsoon floods, and $3 million after the 2005 earthquake.