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Educational Opportunity for Girls:
Monika Girls High School & College Bagrot Valley (Pakistan), 2016
In May we visited Bagrot again. The weather was very friendly. The heavy rains in early April had left a lot of damage to the unpaved roads and individual bridges in the valley that had not been cleared. At various places mud and scree floods have also destroyed irrigation canals and fields. Fortunately, the school was spared.
Monika Girls High School and College
In a month, our educational project for girls is already 25 years old! Incredible. We owe this success to the many supporters over the years. And we can report some changes. The school area is now provided with teachers by the school board. Collegiate teachers continue to be funded by private donations. There is also a college class with a scientific orientation. This will require additional subject teachers. But more on that later. Our policy of small steps has proven itself so far. The financing of the school grounds with its three buildings today has been the government's responsibility right from the start, and we have financed only urgent equipment from donations. The focus was always on our goal: school lessons for all girls in Bagrot and a wide range of free lessons.
The Girls School Classes (1. to 10. grade)
220 pupils attend the 1st - 10th grade. All school classes are now equipped by the school board with government teachers. The implementation is still a bit jerky and requires patience on all sides for the transitional period. Classes have taken place since the end of the summer holidays in the mornings, which is common at government schools. This increases the daily teaching time in relation to the previous lessons in the afternoon by 1-2 hours, depending on the day of the week. The 9th and 10th grade students are getting used to it. As a result of the positive development, we had to release six donor-funded high school teachers as of May 31. Everyone has been compensated, they have been working for the project for many years. Two donor-funded science teachers will continue to work on the transition until the end of the current school year (31 March 2017). The goernment teachers who have been transferred to the girls' school have no education in science subjects. First reactions: The 9th and 10th grade students expressed concern about the change during discussions with me. They have little faith in the reliability and expertise of government teachers. The parents and pupils were glad and grateful about the continued employment of the two science teachers for grades 9 and 10. They are concerned with the preparation for the final school examination. Pupils and their parents are fixated on the annual final exams. The exam tasks are created centrally for all schools and the examinations take place under the supervision of foreign teachers. These measures prevent audit fraud. If the lessons fail frequently, e.g. due to missing or absent teachers, the students have the disadvantage and only achieve a low overall score in the annual exams. This endangers the transfer and after completion of the 10th grade, the admission of study at a college. In May, the provincial education board introduced a digital fingerprint presence check at the beginning and at the end of the daily service for all government teachers. A small technical revolution that will hopefully bear fruit. We were present during the first few days of digital recording and stamping.
College classes (11. to 14. grade)
62 students study in grades 11 - 14. Classes are held in the afternoon. Since September, there is an additional class with a scientific orientation, it has so far 8 students. The cost of college education has increased significantly because three more subject teachers were needed. They have a degree in mathematics, physics, chemistry or biology completed. For the time being, the new mathematical and natural science education offer is limited to one year. 11 donor-funded teachers today teach the five college classes. The main subjects are: Urdu, English, Sociology, Pedagogy, Geography, Economics. In the science class, the emphasis is on math, physics, biology. A teacher was assigned to direct the college classes. On the last Sunday of May we did a class trip with the students of the 4th college year to Attabad Lake (a reservoir as a result of a landslide) and the new tunnels of the Karakorum Highway in the upper Hunza Valley. Some photos in our newsletter bear witness to this wonderful day. For the students, the trip was a rare pleasure and a little adventure to get to know previously unknown regions of their home province of Gilgit-Baltistan.
It is not foreseeable that the education authority will set up a college in Bagrot for the near future. There is too much proximity to the provincial capital Gilgit with its public and private educational institutions. At the same time, the security aspect in Gilgit and the surrounding large communities is a factor that particularly restricts women and prevents them from moving to study. Also, the cost of studying outside the home is a major hurdle for many families to have their daughters study outside, as well as the need for domestic and agricultural workers.
A new phenomenon in Bagrot are the divorce wishes of some young women. The marriage promise had already been sealed with the legally binding contract, the marital cohabitation came later, maybe years later. This time lag is common in Bagrot. Divorce wishes on the part of the young women, however, not. It is all about arranged marriages between the families, also common in Bagrot, and some young women are objecting today. The cases known to me concern students. (A consequence of school education?) The divorce negotiations between the affected families drag on, and local clergy and village elders seek mediation. So far, these negotiations ended with the consent of the husband in the divorce and a compensation of the costs incurred for gifts etc. to the bride on the part of the in-law family. The Community's commitment to a fair settlement in private disputes is also a tradition in Bagrot.
School for hearing impaired children
Nabila, a deaf young woman in Bagrot, has been teaching hearing impaired children in sign language since October 2012, reading and writing in the local language Urdu and in basic arithmetic. This small project is financed by donations from the vocational school “Berufsbildende Schule Heinrich Haus gGmbH” in Neuwied, Germany. Since last year, Nabila owns a used laptop and thus increasingly uses visual teaching materials and films in sign language and subtitles in the national language Urdu. The 4 students have again completed the annual exam at the Government Girls' School in the village and were again the best in their class. In the meantime, the only girl of the small class has been able to switch to the government school for the hearing impaired in the city of Gilgit and lives there with relatives. She is an excellent and bright student. But leaving her parents' home and the safe familiar surroundings was hard for her. We would like to move Nabila's little class from the private house to the grounds of a nearby school. But there is hardly enough space and Nabila is reluctant to go to the school public. A disability is regarded as a blemish, those affected are often ridiculed or even harassed. Disadvantaged children are not supported at school and usually remain illiterate.
The exchange rate of the Pakistani currency (rupee) is tied to the US dollar, meaning that the Euro has not been doing as well for two years as it used to. The total cost of teachers to be funded from private donations in the current school year totals 20,000 EUR. This is a big chunk and not easy to handle. We are very grateful for any support. There are already good examples of this, perhaps inspiring imitation.
Fund Raising 2016
- Sewing for a good cause: A friend sews with great dedication, donating the profits from the sale of her Cologne key chains for the school project. (The photo below shows a young seamstress and student in Bagrot. She contributes to the household income with the secondary job.)
- School to School:The pupils and teachers of the vocational school of Heinrich-Haus gGmbH in Neuwied supported us again with various fundraisers.
- 4. Readathon of Ursulinenschule, Cologne during the Christmas holidays 2015/2016: 59 participants in grades 5 - 7 competed for reading as much as possible and donated so much money.
- Students of the Gymnasium Braunlage supported us with the proceeds from their social day
- Leaving hair: A young lady sold her cut hair to a wig maker and donated the proceeds.
- Donation instead of gifts, flowers or wreaths: Good friends again choose this this motto for personal occasions.
- Donation instead of fee: 3 women are now training regularly with a friendly yoga teacher, who donates the fee.
- Permanent donors, longtime supporters and the members of Forum Kinder in Not e.V. contribute significantly to the continued existence of the school. I am very grateful for your trust and loyalty.
Your donations will go 100% to the school. I thank all supporters for their dedication to the good cause. A many-voiced “Thank You” and countless greetings from the students, parents and the teachers of Bagrot.
Best Regards from Hamburg
Your Monika Schneid
Monika Schneid, Marienthaler St. 156, 20535 Hamburg
Tel. 040-2503708, Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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