Light in dark times: The ABC of empowering women

Published: March 5, 2015
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Funded by the European Union under its PEACE project, ALC offers educational services to hundreds of women of Charbagh tehsil. PHOTOS: FAZAL KHALIQ/EXPRESS

Funded by the European Union under its PEACE project, ALC offers educational services to hundreds of women of Charbagh tehsil. PHOTOS: FAZAL KHALIQ/EXPRESS

CHARBAGH: 

Like many other women of her village, learning to read and write was a luxury 43-year-old Tajmena had not dreamt of until four months ago when she started going to the Adult Literacy Centre (ALC) set up by Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP).

Funded by the European Union under its PEACE project, ALC offers educational services to hundreds of women of Charbagh tehsil, Swat.

In this day and age it is difficult for a person to get by without basic social tools such as literacy. Such was true for Tajmena, the mother of five children, who lives in Matai village of Telegram union council in Malakand Division. She recalls how much she missed the element of literacy in her life until she started learning.

“I could not read the directions written on medicine bottles so I was unable to decipher the method to make syrup from the given powder,” she says. “But now I can not only read the directions but can also check prescriptions and expiry dates on medicines.”

Tajmena is elated; she can also tell the time now. “I would feel shy when someone asked me what time it was but our teacher at the centre taught us how to read a clock.”

Funded by the European Union under its PEACE project, ALC offers educational services to hundreds of women of Charbagh tehsil. PHOTOS: FAZAL KHALIQ/EXPRESS

At the ALC in Matai, there are around 25 women who are also as jubilant to learn things they were unaware of just a few months ago. They say they can now read the due dates on electricity bills that helps them make the payments on time. Not only has the day-to-day routine become easier, but also they said they can also help their children with homework now.

“I always regretted being deprived of basic education and would despise not knowing how to read and write but I don’t feel like I’m blind now,” says Tajmena with joy in her eyes. “Reading and writing are skills every woman must possess.”

Objectives

ALC imparts basic education to women and helps them learn simple arithmetic functions. Alongside primary education, the centre also assists them with social skills.

Funded by the European Union under its PEACE project, ALC offers educational services to hundreds of women of Charbagh tehsil. PHOTOS: FAZAL KHALIQ/EXPRESS

“Each centre is provided with a local teacher trained by SRSP along a module adapted from National Commission for Human Development, an NGO,” the programme officer for community managed livelihood resources, Naheed Akhtar, told The Express Tribune. “Five-month literacy courses are taught at ALCs in different communities so women don’t face conveyance issues and are encouraged to participate.”

A total of 129 centres have been set up so far in the seven districts of Malakand, she added. “Until now 3,193 women have been educated while 132 teachers have also been trained.”

Like other parts of the province, Telegram union council too remained a stronghold of militants during the insurgency when women were banned from acquiring an education and schools were demolished.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2015.

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