Girls’ education in tribal regions

Letter May 14, 2024
Girls’ education in tribal regions


Empower a girl, and you’ll empower a community. Educate a girl, and you’ll educate a nation. However, for tribal girls, these are merely fanciful notions written in books.

Recently, heartbreaking news emerged from Shewa tehsil in North Waziristan where a girls’ school was blown up by militants at night. Girl students arrived in the morning only to find their school damaged. This was not the first such incident in Waziristan. Last year too, two girls’ schools were blown up in Mirali. War and extremism have left schools in the newly merged districts, especially for girls, in tatters. No wonder the female literacy rate in erstwhile FATA is below 8%.

According to the owner of the bombed school, “About 90% of government schools for girls are non-functional in North Waziristan. Private schools for boys have played pivotal roles in promoting education. Unfortunately, there were no private schools for girls. My friends and I discussed different possibilities for promoting girls’ education. We arranged meetings with our elders and convinced them to allow their girls to receive education. The next hurdle was the unavailability of a school. So we contacted different people, but many refused to invest because they said the Taliban would destroy it. After that, we contacted one of my cousins, who is a labourer in the UAE. He readily agreed to invest one million rupees to promote girls’ education in our area. Finally, after overcoming all obstacles, the school was completed and inaugurated on May 19, 2023. With each passing day, the school’s strength dramatically increased. Unfortunately, on May 9th, 2024, at 1am, the school was destroyed.”

The war on terror has devastated the whole region, but no heed was paid towards its rehabilitation and reconstruction. Policy flaws have pushed us back to the situation in 2007 and 2008 when terrorism was at its peak.

The government needs to pay heed to the menace of terrorism which has been witnessing a resurge. The current TTP strength, according to reports, is over 40,000, with more than 40 militant groups collaborating with TTP. The past mistakes shouldn’t be repeated, as the situation worsened after the Afghan Taliban took over Kabul on August 15, 2021 with our support. They banned girls’ education in Afghanistan, while their ideological mates are doing the same in Pakistan, emboldened by their ancestors. Moreover, the promises of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the newly merged districts, as part of FATA reforms in 2018, must be fulfilled.

Umair khan

Salarzai, Bajaur

Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2024.

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