In hamlet with zero literacy, the only form of education is offered by the school of life

Published: April 15, 2012

Natives of this lush-green valley are typically herders, continuing the profession of their ancestors. PHOTO: FAZAL KHALIQ/EXPRESS

SWAT: 

“Why would I want an education? What is the benefit of being literate? Life is what we spend here,” said Bakht Zada, 14, a shepherd, while grazing his sheep in Balokaley Kandak valley.

Unaware of the importance of education, Bakht Zada who lives in Nariband hamlet, has been grazing his sheep and goats since the age of six.

The majority of residents in Nariband are herdsmen who fatten their animals for the month of Eidul Azha.

“I have been to Mingora thrice in my life, with my father to a cattle fair to sell sheep but there is too much hustle and bustle which tires me,” he said.

If he does not appreciate the importance of an education, it is because there is zero per cent literacy in his hamlet.

“I go to the mosque for religious education along with other children. But I don’t want an English education because people say it misleads children,” Bakht Zada added.

Children in Nariband are strangers to computers, internet and mobile phones and are effectively cut off from the rest of the world. They play indigenous games while their animals graze in the meadows.

Bakht Zada, escorts his sheep and goats along with his friends for grazing early in the morning and gathers them to take back home in the evening.

Khan Zeb, 16, who is married and has two children, also takes his sheep to the meadows early morning. He sits on a huge rock eyeing his herd as the goats munch on the grass.

“I work with my father in the fields and go to Punjab in the harvest season for 20 days every year, where we earn up to Rs800,” he told The Express Tribune.

There is no electricity in their valley, no road network or water supply. There are no  schools, nor even a single dispensary, but the children look happy as they run after their herds in the lush green valley.

“Our yearly yield is sufficient to cater to the needs of our seven-member family,” Zeb said.

The valley is located some 20 kilometres from Mingora, seat of the Gandhara Civilization.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • waqar
    Apr 15, 2012 - 10:56AM

    this is what journalists should focus on

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  • Ali S
    Apr 15, 2012 - 12:10PM

    Two children at age 16, the wonders of illiteracy. Btw some multiplication skills will come in handy when you go to sell those animals, son. And forget “Western education”, how can being literate in any language (even a local one) or having a medical dispensary around be bad for you?

    I really hope these people live happily, and their lifestyle does seem a lot more relaxed than the hustle-bustle of Karachi, but this type of attitude is what makes these people so susceptible to being brainwashed by not-so-well-meaning mullahs.

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  • current
    Apr 15, 2012 - 12:39PM

    these people should be conserved before they become extinct. so we can watch them from outside..

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  • Mwaqar
    Apr 15, 2012 - 6:47PM

    It is States responsibility to provide education to each and every citizen,but unfortunately Pakistani elite never cared about educating citizens,the feudal system kept people in dark and will continue this horrible crime.Pakistan needs revolutionary leader who can spread education aggressively,its unfortunate to read this story that this is happening in 2012. No human beings are able to survive properly without education.These kids are going to a masque to get just religious education but the problem is those mullahs who teach them are not educated either,they read HOLY QURAN without understanding it,they are given a wrong expression of modern education,its just unfortunate. Education develops a meaningful outlook on life.Pakistan is neglecting education for the last 65 years.

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  • Mary
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:19PM

    Unique that this set of humanity has kept
    the primitive life working for them. Wish
    it could remain but fear it will not and
    wonder what the women would say!!

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  • Apr 15, 2012 - 11:47PM

    Hope this news helps initiate step to provide education in the valley/area.

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  • Apr 16, 2012 - 12:31AM

    if only we can figure out how to impart a useful education, without destroying the beauty of their lifestyle. if only policy-makers could appreciate nuance :)

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  • Huma
    Apr 16, 2012 - 2:10AM

    if they aren’t causing murder and mayhem and are happy with life, let ‘em be, i say! who of us is happy and safe? if they are…. dont ruin it! would be nice to know, someone is living in bliss… but that wud be too easy … :/

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  • Apr 16, 2012 - 9:54AM

    I am curious where it is in Swat. I heard this name for the first time. But there are a lot of underdeveloped countries in the region. Actually these are the isolated folks of society and are concerned with their cattle and crops and they are unaware of education. They believe in tangible benefits which they are seeking

    @Author: can I know about you. I have been reading a few of your articles and I found them very interesting. Recommend

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