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Bagrot Basics

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School Education Liberates!

Monika Girls High School & College Bagrot Valley (Pakistan), Project Report 2011

One year after the torrential rain

After experiencing unusually heavy rains every day for a few weeks before the great flood disaster in Pakistan last year, it was dry during our visit in autumn. The Bagrot valley was spared this year from torrential rain. Many buildings still have significant water damage from last summer. The few roads and most fields, the livelihood of most families, are intact. The harvest of wheat, corn, potatoes, apples, pears, tomatoes, vegetables and nuts was very good this year. The apricot trees, an important source of income, have hardly yielded fruit due to heavy rainfall during the flowering season in spring. The people reported that last summer they sought shelter from the rain masses in the village mosques and stayed there for days together. Despite low supplies and revenues, they somehow made it over the winter and the spring. Many families have been forced get into debt due to price increases for food and basic necessities and minimal crop yields. The proceeds from the sale of potatoes, tomatoes and fruits this summer and fall will be used as much as possible for the eradication. The selling prices were relatively high this year. Overall, it could have been worse. During our visit to the valley, however, we unusually often saw landslides, rockfalls on the steep slopes and smaller mudslides and experienced, consequences of the increased rainfall this year.

School education today

Today, 95% of girls in Bagrot Valley attend school! That's the result of a recent count this summer. 20 years ago it was just a handful. Our school project made a significant contribution to this development: with the first-time offer of school lessons for girls, as a measure of awareness raising among parents and as a driving force for the founding of state elementary school girls in all villages.

Monika Girls High School

During our visit to the Bagrot Valley in the fall, we often visited the girls' school. 307 students and students attend classes 1 to 10. The classes have now reached a normal size. This results in better learning conditions. In all elementary girls' schools of the Bagrot Valley, there are now lessons for higher grades. Many parents are pushing for the development of local teaching today. In previous years, grades 6 to 10 often had too many students because these classes did not exist in the other village schools. (Grades 9 and 10 have had 88 students in the past two years.) Also this year, the number of students jumped up for a few months. The school building in the neighboring village could not be used temporarily. Meanwhile, the students have moved in again. The subjects taught in classes 6 to 10 are English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Urdu (National Language of Pakistan), Social Studies, Islamic Religion, History of Pakistan, Agriculture and Home Economics. The remedial lessons arranged in June 2010 during the school holidays in difficult subjects such as Math and English literally fell into the water during the summer. In the past winter and summer vacations free tuition was offered in the school. Demand was lower than expected.

The College Classes

42 students study in 11th and 12th grade and in special education for the teacher's examination. Other students are added according to experience, the applications are handled flexibly. Classes of teaching, pedagogy, sociology, English, Urdu, Islamic religion and history of Pakistan are taught in the college. All classes are open to girls from all villages in Bagrot. School fees are not charged!

The Teachers

In grades 6 to 12, 15 privately funded teachers teach. Six government-funded teachers teach grades 1-5 and the early-education group. We have had many discussions with the teachers. The young teachers in the college change relatively frequently. As soon as they find a better paid job or employment in the public sector, they leave the school. Now that many graduates have completed their education and some have completed a teacher training course, we want to make female teachers fit for instruction in the higher grades. This year, three young women are already working as assistant teachers in grades 6 to 9. Given the huge price increases since the tsunami in the summer of 2010, we have increased the salaries of privately funded teachers by 15% from July on. In the spring, the government had significantly raised the salaries of all civil servants. Last year, the responsible representative of the provincial parliament gave us the full implementation of the government recognition of the school, which took place a few years ago. the enrollment of a sufficient number of teachers by the regional school board has been promised. Reconstruction after the flood disaster last summer, however, remains for the time being first priority of government spending. The salaries of teachers in grades 6 to 12 must be funded by private donations. With the increase in college education - the demand increases with the increasing number of school graduates - the expenditure increases: For the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years, they each amounted to just under € 10,000. In the school year 2011-2012, the staff costs to be financed from donations total 11,000.00 €.

The School Students

During my visits to the valley, I also regularly had lively discussions with the individual classes. Here I experience a very positive development. Today, the subjects of the students were ranging from questions about everyday life in Germany, their own life situations to school matters. Since I do not speak Urdu and the students only speak very little English, we talk in a mix of Shina, the language of Bagrot, and English. Reason enough for small misunderstandings and great hilarity on all sides

The School Festivity

This year the teachers have organized a school festival. All classes have contributed to it with songs, speeches, poems, stories and jokes, as well as the representatives of the community with many speeches. All students, teachers, many mothers, fathers and village elders attended, although the event fell in the middle of the harvest season. Most impressive were the cheerful and self-assured performances of the students in front of a large audience, as well as the free and courageous speech of a mother whose daughters attend school and the moving account of a teacher who was the first student in the Bagrot valley. Her father had simply registered her at the boys' school back then.

Construction of a computer room

In addition to financing staff costs, we want to enable the construction of an additional classroom. Here a computer room is to be furnished. The school board has already approved the technical equipment (17 PCs, printers) and will provide a subject teacher. Now we have to raise funds for the necessary space. The costs for the construction measure amount to 5,500.00 €.

Encouragement for disadvantaged girls

In Bagrot live girls with disadvantages that prevent a school visit. In cooperation with the Vocational School of Heinrich-Haus gGmbH in Neuwied we want to try to create a possibility of school attendance or literacy for disadvantaged girls. For them, this would be a unique opportunity to gain personal recognition and improve their position. It is also a completely new educational approach in Bagrot. Currently, on-the-spot teachers are looking at the size of the group of disadvantaged girls and what special support is needed for individual schooling.

Worth of education in everyday life?

Here I confine myself to typical examples: read leaflets of medication, speak to a doctor, read and count numbers, and negotiate prices in the store, apply teaching information on hygiene and health at home, and use further education and training opportunities. The latter is still limited to teaching and health professions, that's the beginning. Being able to move independently outside the village community, e.g. in the nearby town of Gilgit, or helping their own children with their homework. In our view, this sounds banal, for women in Bagrot it is a whole new experience to master these situations without male help. School education makes you free! The tasks of girls and women in household and agriculture does not reduce school education. But a higher marriage age and a smaller number of children are among the positive consequences.

Fund Raisers in 2011

  • Donations instead of gifts - Two friends put their birthday under this motto and very successfully raised donations. Even a relocation party was successfully put by friends under this motto.
  • Social Day - Students from Oberharz-Gymnasium Braunlage have donated part of their hard earned wage on Social Day 2010.
  • Tips for a good cause - A friend has set aside her tips over the year to support the school..
  • Long-standing regular donors - and the members of the Forum Kinder in Not e.V. contribute significantly to the continued existence of the school.
  • New Sponsors - Here I would like to mention this year the vocational training school of the Heinrich House gGmbH in Neuwied, which supports the girl school with different activities and donation actions.
Many thanks to everyone involved for their dedication and support! Greetings and a many-voiced “Thank You” send the students of the Monika Girls High School, their parents and the teachers.

Greetings from Hamburg!
Monika Schneid
November 2011

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

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