Learning from voluntary services : Perspectives of the Ismaili youth in Karachi

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy in Education


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Experience is a key source of learning. Voluntary services (VS) are one such experiential source to learn and grow from. The present case study used mixed methods (survey tools and in-depth interviews) to explore the perspectives of Ismaili youth on the meaning, value, and educative potentials of their voluntary services based in Karachi. The data was collected from Ismaili youth (18 to 23 years) belonging to three community sites in the city Karachi (Garden, Metroville and Clifton). The study’s data showed that the participants understand the meaning and value of voluntary services in myriad ways, starting from processes of benefiting the lives of the community members, to making a difference in some one’s life, to teaching academic/social subjects and skills to community. Khidmat to the religious leader and to their community appeared as key factors in their involvement in voluntary services. The participants were enrolled in various interconnected institutions and services established by their respective community sites. Even though the volunteers’ learning from their services is not purposefully structured, many participants actively and subtly learnt and developed skills, knowledge and attitudes such as communication, teaching, problem solving, critical thinking, reflecting, presenting, public speaking, time management, multi-tasking, people management, learning about diversity, respect towards others, patience, confidence in their ability, flexibility, leadership, and, most importantly, about justice and diversity. They expressed critical insights about instances of favoritism, nepotism, injustice and unfair treatment of the ‘other’ during their voluntary experiences. The link between academic/school subjects and voluntary experiences was limited to religious education. Overall the youth’s learning from their voluntary services showed the potentials for developing into successful leaders for their community and larger society, with broad vision and relevant skills and dispositions for 21st century. The youth appeared to have deeply thought suggestions, which make them natural partners to the community leaders in making VS more meaningful, relevant, and empowering. Dialogue with the youth can make the link between voluntary services and learning more robust, explicit and mutually beneficial. These transformative potentials can be tapped on, if the community leaders actively listen to their youth voices.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library