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2004

 

Bagrot Basics

German Version

MILESTONES

Good news from Bagrot! Our private initiative, which started 11 years ago, is showing many successes today. The school board is building a girls' school in Datuchi. The building shell for the Government Girls Middle School (government middle school to 8th grade) is already almost finished. The new, two-part building has 7 classrooms and a small staff room.

Thanks to numerous donations, chairs, school desks and tables were acquired 2 years ago. The students are happy and grateful not to have to sit on the hard and cold concrete floor in the temporarily used rooms.

The new, separate girls' toilet also makes it easier for students to attend classes in the truest sense of the word.

Former students of our private school now teach in government primary schools and various girls' project schools in the villages of Bagrots or work there as health consultants. With their income they make a significant contribution to the family income. The standard of living in these households is visibly higher than in average families, e.g. in terms of nutrition, hygiene, clothing, household equipment, training of younger family members and access to medical treatment options in Gilgit. The young women are relatively independent, radiate confidence and enjoy respect within their extended family.

Human Aspects

Students, parents and teachers cordially greet those who have contributed to the continued existence of the school with their donations and activities. The many people we met in Bagrot in September 2003 were filled with great joy and gratitude that they have not been forgotten by us, despite the events of 9/11/2001 and the negative reports about their homeland and their faith since. Our initiative is more important than ever because of today's widespread notions of Islamism, terrorism and female contempt in this region. It's not just about educational opportunities for girls in Bagrot. Our project shows the human and personal side of the population in the region: the development over the past years and the progress made reflect the interests and needs of the people, their desires and goals, for which they are actively involved. There is no question of a stronger Islamism and the support of extremist or terrorist activities in Bagrot. People were appalled by the political developments and the fact that their homeland has become so discredited in the West. They worry about peace in their region and fear setbacks for economic and political development because of their bad reputation in international media.

Facts and Figures

Today, 216 students attend the girls' school in Datuchi (June 2000: 174 girls):

Distribution of the Students
Class/
Grade:
Nursery 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Σ
Students: 25 17 11 23 18 16 29 32 15 22 8 216

Until the move to the new school building, classes continue in the afternoons at Boys High School Datuchi, in the summer from 1pm to 5pm and in the winter from 1:30 to 4:30 pm. That's why a separate toilet toilet was built there 2 years ago. For elementary school classes (pre-school - 5th grade), the school board has hired three teachers in October 2001. An assistant teacher is funded by project funds. The pupils of the 6th - 10th Classes come from 4 different villages, the elementary students only from Datuchi, because today there are government primary schools for girls in all villages. The students of the middle and high school classes are registered in the Government Boys High School Datuchi and have to pass the annual exams there, otherwise their certificates and school certificates would not be recognized. The 5 male teachers of the 6th - 10th Classes are financed from our project funds. Some teachers teach in the mornings at Boys High School or at BASE Public School, founded in 2002 and privately funded. Unlike government schools, the public school's language of instruction is English.

Government and local Education Policy

The terrain for the Govt. Girls Middle School Datuchi is located just above Boys High School Datuchi on the access road to the village. I expect that the building will be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2004. Then it is up to the school board to announce the appropriate posts and hire staff. We did not receive any binding commitments about the hiring date. The government recruitment policy follows the principle of empty or full coffers: Vacancy and recruitment can take place in the coming year, but the process can also be extended over 2-3 years. A privately funded extension of the school building would accelerate the recognition as Govt. High School and the recruitment of more teachers. In addition to the classrooms and office under construction, a high school also has a small auditorium, a science education laboratory and at least one other classroom. Once the funding of teachers for the Govt. Girls Middle School is guaranteed by the school board, it makes sense to aim for a financing of the construction extension. Ahmad Ali, now Deputy School Councilor in Gilgit, continues to manage the project funds, and Mohammad Sharif, headmaster in Bagrot, oversees the girls' school and pays salaries. As headmaster of Boys High School Datuchi, he oversees government schools in Bagrot and is also responsible for paying salaries to government teachers in the valley. I've known Muhammad Sharif since the beginning of my research stay in the fall of 1989. During our visit to various meetings, he urged us to continue to prioritize our girls' school, given the many new educational initiatives in Bagrot. I have been able to confirm that this important project remains the focus of our interest.
All schools in the Gilgit region were closed this year due to a provincial government order beyond the end of summer holidays. Negotiations between high-level clergy and politicians on various texts in the new books for common religious instruction of all Islamic faiths have caused concerns in Gilgit and the surrounding area. Therefore, during the first days of the negotiations, the schools remained closed. 3 days before our departure this order was cancelled; so we were able to visit different schools during regular school hours and did not stand in front of empty and closed buildings.
In the past year, the Gilgit School Board was considering private funding of teachers through the school board. This would mean that we transfer the project funds to the school board and pay the teachers from there. However, this procedure will incur taxes on the administrative burden: 10-15% of the project budget. The School Board has finally agreed to validate the 12-year best practice because it has proven to be directly effective and very successful. Given the recent failure of government institutions to provide basic education to all, a pragmatic decision.

New Education Initiatives in Bagrot

In the past 3 years a lot has been done in the field of education and basic education on the basis of local initiatives in the sense of self-help. This development is supported by the fact that today many more families are able to afford education due to better financial resources of many households than a few years ago. And also due to the fact that today's generation of parents of school-aged children already has a higher proportion of educated fathers and mothers than 12 years ago.

  • In three villages of Bagrot there is now also an Adult Literacy Center for Women, who want to acquire basic knowledge in the Pakistani language of communication Urdu and in basic arithmetic and English. In Datuchi and Farfui these are government funded projects, In Hope it is a private initiative, i. e. the adult students have to pay tuition fees.
  • Farfui village now has a Government Girls Middle School in operation, which also teaches high school classes (9th and 10th grade).
  • The various English Medium Schools, initiated 3-4 years ago in the villages of Datuchi, Bulchi and Farfui on a private basis, have now joined together to form a public school run by the registered, local NGO BASE (Bagrot Association for Social Enhancement). The lessons take place in a field and next door in some disused stables and cottages in the district of Datuchi, which lies relatively in the middle of the valley. BASE branch schools for primary classes work in Sinakir, Bulchi and Farfui. In this way, the way to school for the younger students is not too far. In a movie about the Karakorum Highway are some scenes from the first day of school of the new BASE Public School in Datuchi.

Premiere in Bagrot

In March 2002, the Swiss film crew of Offroad Reports on the International Mountain Year shot the movie “The Karakorum Road — One–Way Street to Globalization” in the Northern Areas. The film reports on the impact of the Karakorum Highway on the region. He shows, among others, Scenes from Bagrot from BASE Public School's first day of school and interviews with teachers Muhammad Hussein and Sheikh Mir Hussein on education and with Ahmad Ali on tradition and change in Bagrot.
During our visit, the neighbors from Datuchi watched this video about the everyday life in their homeland and in the neighboring valleys, which most women and girls only know from stories, for the first time.

Monika Schneid, Hamburg, October 2003
Marienthaler St. 156
22087 Hamburg
Phon: +49+40-250 37 08
E-Mail: monika@monikaschneid.de

Donation Account:
Forum Kinder in Not e.V.
Kreissparkasse Tübingen, IBAN: DE31641500200002753609, BIC: SOLADES1TUB
For earmarked donations please quote the keyword “Pakistan”. If the full address is indicated on the remittance slip, a donation receipt will be sent.

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