SWAT: Despite more than 400 schools being damaged or destroyed in Swat, people of the area have remained resilient in their pursuit for education.
When the valley was under the Taliban’s rule, girls’ education was most severely affected. There were daily sermons by Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah on the radio where he threatened those who wanted to receive education. Now that peace has been restored, the education sector needs attention from government and non-government organisations.
One such organisation, Citi Foundation, through the Sarhad Rural Support Programme, has initiated a project to help students affected by both the 2010 floods and militancy. The foundation has given scholarships to students wanting to pursue their education after secondary school.
On Sunday, a ceremony was organised to award the deserving students. “I had almost given up the idea of studying further because I could not even afford to buy books. But then I was enlisted in this programme and now I am doing my FA,” said Sareer Ahmad, a student from Madyan valley.
Alia, a student from Amankot, was ecstatic. “This is a really big moment for me after the nightmarish years of militancy when our schools were destroyed. I wish to stand on my own feet after completing my studies because my father is dead. I want to show that girls can modestly earn a livelihood for their family. A respected life is everyone’s dream and this scholarship will make my dream come true.”
Some students from Tehsil Kabal, once a stronghold of Taliban, were also present at the ceremony. “There is no hindrance from militants anymore and finances are the only problem. Living in remote areas, we have to spend more money on transportation. But with these funds, I will finally be able to achieve my goal,” said Lubna.
Ziauddin Yousafzai, who runs the biggest school in Mingora, appreciated the efforts made by the NGO. “Education is the only means to empower people. It is the only way towards development,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2011.