KARACHI: Aansoo Kolhi's dream came true last week when the Sindh government made her school part of the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF).
The government also named the school after her father, Kombho Mal Kolhi, as that was the young girl's biggest wish. At a time when thousands of able-bodied students are out of school across Sindh and hundreds of schools are serving as guesthouses for the influential, this physically impaired girl stood out as a beacon of hope, having converted her cattle pen into a school that became overcrowded with students within a few months.
The passionate worker admitted she was very happy with the news. "I wish my father could live to see this day," she said. "He wanted me to become a teacher and his dream came true today."
Aansoo has become a symbol of pride for her small village, Mina ji Dhani, some 28km away from Umerkot, with her school imparting education to young boys and girls, even those who are physically and mentally impaired. The one-room shed has over 200 students and counting as she has recently set up another shed to serve as a school.
As Aansoo's efforts gained some recognition, the Sindh Assembly passed a resolution in her favour. On November 10, Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Aajiz Dhamrah visited the school and handed over a cheque to support her cause. The young girl spent this money on appointing teachers from other villages, including two female teachers from Kunri, which is nearly 17km away from her village.
During his first visit on Friday, education minister Nisar Khuhro gave her a cheque of Rs80,500 and promised her that the province will pay her every month. "Despite the lack of financial resources, girls, such as Aansoo, are determined to make a difference to their community," he said.
Now that her school has become part of SEF, the foundation will provide books and stationary to the school, while the furniture will be provided by district education department. Earlier, the district government had failed to provide desks to the overcrowded school despite orders from Dhamrah and MPA Nawab Taimoor Talpur.
"Bring the desks from closed schools by next week," Khuhro said.
As the number of students in the school continues to rise, Aansoo admitted they are short of space. "My children learn in a very congested atmosphere," she said, adding she is optimistic that a proper building will be set up soon.
"The SEF will provide complete financial support to this school," said the SEF managing director, Aziz Kabani, adding that the children will be provided bags and books.
Determined to fight further, Aansoo shared her plans for the future. She aims to reopen all the schools in the area that were shut down. "Let me complete [work on] this school first," she said. "I'll go from village to another and will request people to reopen schools."
She hopes her passion will encourage more parents. "I am hoping parents will respect me and will enrol their children, especially the girls," she said, adding that most children drop out of school because of a lack of attention from their parents.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2014.