Quenching Hunger for Education
20 Jahre Monika Girls High School & College Bagrot Valley (Pakistan), 2012
Monika Girls High School and College
The girls' school project started 20 years ago in January 1992 with a dwarf school in the village of Datuchi-Das. The response to our initiative in girls' education in Bagrot is overwhelming today. Basic education is now a matter of course for a generation of girls. Parents and pupils warmly thank the supporters for the long-standing help for self-help.
The security situation in the Bagrot valley is very good. Fortunately, attacks on the civilian population, civil unrest and security problems this year in the Greater Gilgit-Baltistan region have not reached the bottom of the valley. As far as possible, people avoid visiting the central city of Gilgit. Only urgently needed purchases, visits to the authorities and doctor visits are made there. Again and again we were advised to stay away from Gilgit. People feel responsible for guests in Bagrot and did not let us go to Gilgit without local support. Gilgit sees more police, soldiers and roadblocks every year. The bazaar is also less crowded during the day than usual. The mood is down.
During our visit in the fall, the weather was very changeable. Outside the sunshine hours, it was already very cold. It had rained a lot over the summer, in some cases the crop got wet and spoiled. For example, tomatoes were rarely dried. The apricot crop, on the other hand, was unusually good, as well as the yield of dried apricots and apricot kernels, as well as walnuts. Crop surpluses are sold through intermediaries to Gilgit and the lowlands, they are an important source of income for most households. Corn, sown in many fields as a second crop, suffered from the cool temperatures in late summer and looked miserable at harvest time. The yield will just be good enough as cattle feed for the winter.
The power supply in the Bagrot valley is still insufficient. In particular, during the main consumption times, the supply often fails for many hours to several days. This should change in the coming summer, when the new small hydroelectric power plant in Bagrot will start.
Also, none of the numerous mobile phone operators in Gilgit-Baltistan provides coveradge for the valley. This should change. One provider plans the construction of radio masts in Bagrot. That would be almost too good to be true, because the few land lines that existed years ago, are no longer maintained by the telecommunications company and are dumb.
The School students300 school girls attend the school from kindergarden class to 10th grade. The students expressed their satisfaction with the school and the teachers. The 9th grade has 55 students. They come from different villages, some are not satisfied with the lessons at the school in their village and have simply switched to Monika Girls High School. The high school students asked for computer lessons and can hardly wait for the school board to equip the new computer room.
The College students55 students attend the 11th and 12th grade and the specialization class for teacher training. Many students asked us to continue teaching in Bagrot, i.e. to expand the girls' school by a 13th and 14th grade. Parents do not allow them to move to the city due to legitimate security concerns or can not bear the costs of studying outside.
We often heard the request to be able to take the annual exams in the valley. Stays with Gilgit relatives' durng exams are difficult to arrange – the young women move from house to house during the exam weeks – and costly. These factors make good preparation for the semi-annual exams difficult.
The Teachers15 privately funded teachers teach at the Girls' School and since September 2012 a total of 12 government teachers. We have decided retrospectively on a salary increase for donor-funded teachers from July 2012 on. The government had increased government employees' salaries by 20% in July after an incrase by 25% in July 2011. For the current school year, the cost of privately funded teachers amounts to a total of € 10,000
Maintaining teaching standardsThe school board recruited five more government teachers for Monika Girls High School in September. That's good news! However, the new teachers are not adequately trained for middle school classes. Therefore, we have decided to continue to support lessons for a transitional period by privately funded teachers. We want to make sure that the standard is maintained.
Computer room builtThanks to additional donations, we were able to have another classroom built in the spring. It stands like a small lighthouse on the roof of the second school building and is visible from afar in the valley. Here a computer room is to be furnished. The school board has approved the technical equipment (17 PCs, printers) and a subject teacher.
Awareness awakenedToday's schoolchildren are calling for more education in the valley due to the poor security situation in Gilgit, the central place for continuing education such as secondary school and college. Students from other villages of Bagrot move to high school in Datuchi despite the long distances. The dissatisfaction with the school in their own village is great, the differences in the quality of teaching are clearly perceived. At two other girls' schools in Bagrot, there were violent protests from students and parents against the regular absence of some female teachers at the beginning of October.
Expand college lessonsThe private college will be expanded by a 13th and 14th grade next spring. And there is a request for registration as a college at the competent authority. The additional necessary teachers and the registration process will entail additional costs. We can quantify these in a few months. Registration has the advantage that the annual exams can be taken on site. The students would no longer have to travel to Gilgit to take their exams at local colleges as external exminee, as has been the case. Our school would continue to gain publicity. I assume that a whole range of graduates will enroll in the 13th and 14th grade.
Buying new chairs70 new chairs will be purchased for the classrooms and the staff room. In the classrooms of the third and youngest school building and in the staff room the necessary furniture is missing. Every day in the morning and afternoon, chairs are carried back and forth between the three school buildings. In the teacher's room, the teachers have been using old school benches from primary school for years. The one-time costs amount to 1.750 €
Promoting disadvantaged childrenBagrot has children with disabilities that make it difficult or impossible to attend a regular school. The terrain is impassable, there is no affordable public transport and no specially trained teachers or facilities. There is also a lack of awareness of the literacy of disadvantaged children. For them, this would be an opportunity to gain personal recognition and improve their position. It is also a completely new educational approach in Bagrot. During our visit, together with teachers, we developed various ideas as to which measures of on-site training are possible. Two teachers are now going from village to village, visiting the families and trying to convince them. There are 8-10 children with different disabilities. We have already learned that the implementation takes a lot of time. The new initiative was decisively encouraged and supported by the vocational training school of Heinrich-Haus gGmbH in Neuwied, which has entered into a school cooperation with us for this purpose.
Fund Raisers in 2012
Greetings and a many-voiced Thank You send the students of the Monika Girls High School, their parents and the teachers. Bagroti say “Thank You”
Shukur Baig, father of several daughters who attended Monika Girls High School, asked me to write down the following story at home:
Greetings from Hamburg!