Education opens Doors
Girls High School & College Bagrot Valley (Pakistan)
Education is a door opener. It provides a glimpse of the wider world, new knowledge and opportunities beyond the tradition in Bagrot. This is valid everywhere, also to us. The possibilities that can arise depend on the environment. In Germany, we are in a much better position, than the young people in P,akistan. A country that offers less freedom and real opportunities for young people due to the economic situation and population growth. According to a recent report 120 of the approximately 200 million inhabitants today are less than 25 years old. Half of them have no education and many only a rudimentary one as they leave school very early due to economic constraints. With a small or even no houshold income economic survival depends on child labour
In Bagrote valley the situation is comparatively positive. The majority of households own their own land for the supply of staple foods such as cereals, potatoes, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Meat, milk and butter are already scarce. Many families have modest cash receipts fom a wage earner, often from army service- This is not a comfottable situation. For most families it is just enough for a modest life.
School education is seen as an opportunity, as adoor opener for all children. The hope for improvement of the situation is unbroken. I have been experiencing this for almost 30 years. One invests in an uncertain future.
Unfortunatelly our visit to the Bagrot valley had to be cancelled this year. The persons in charge regularly sent up-to-date information and photos. In the middle of december we will travel to Islamabad for a few days and meet the project managers from Bagrot. Our time is not enough for a visit to the valley. The journey to the high mountains and back take too much time.
The college classes, financed by donations, and the Government Girls School run smoothly. This is confirmed by the project managers and the teachers. During the summer holidays, several school buildings in a far-off valley were set on fire. This had caused a stir througout the province and the government immediatelly sent a guard to every school for protection. This situation is hardly imaginable here. I very much appraise that lessons were continued without restrictions at the urging of parents, students and teachers. School education is highly valued despite latent insecurity in the region.
With school attendance children in Bagrot learn for the first time the official languages of their country, Urdu and English. Linked to this at the same time is learning the Arabic and the Latin alphabet. Not an easy start.
A writing table is unknown in the households of Bagrot, no tables, no chairs. Children do not have their own room. They play and do their homework whereever there is a free space in the living room, usually a combination of kitchen and living room and often also a bedroom at night.
Monika Girls High School and College
Our school project for girls is now in its 26th year. We owe this success to the many supporters. The school is now largely supplied by the government.The teachers for college classes are funded by private donations.
The Girls School Classes (st. - 10th year)
220 students attend cassess 1 to 10. All classes aretaught by government teachers. Two additional science teachers are funded by donations.The government teachers who have been transfered to the Girls' School are not trained in science education. Parents and students of grade 9 and 10 are very grateful for the support of the two subject teachers. For the students it is a question of successful preparations for the final exam.
The College Classes (11th - 14th. year i.e. 1st - 4th College year)
Today, 93 students study in various college classes: 22 in first year, 32 in the second, 21 in the third and 18 in fourth year. Classes are held in the afternoon in the Girls School in Datuchi. 11 teachers funded by donations teach the college students. The main subjects are Urdu, English, Sociology, Pedagogy, Geography and Economics. One teacher is charged with organizational tasks, assisted by an assistant for the personal questions of the young women.
The still new mathematical and scientific teaching offer is not as well received as expected. One of the reasons are barriers to being admitted as an external student to the annual exams at a government-recognized college in Gilgit. An explanation for this is still pending. This problem does not exist for female students in the field of human science. They are regularly admitted as external auditors.
22 out of 26 first and second year students passed te exam in the summer. A good result given the difficult learning conditions away from well-equipped premises and without an undisturbed learning environment such as a dorm for female students or the life situation of most students here.
In May 2017, the provincial education minister approved the expansion of the Government Girls School through grade 12 (1st and 2nd college grade). Implementation by the competent authority, i.e. te deployment of appropriately qualified teachers, takes several years, according to experience. It requires patience and political action. Together with the college teachers, we want to encourage further political education in the form of visits to MPs. To make oneself heard and to learn to exercise civil rights are the goal.
Education for deaf children
The deaf teacher Nabila teaches at home 2 students in Pakistani and international sign language, reading, writing and arithmetic. The exams are held in the Government School. In that way they receive a recognized certificate- This way is laborious, there is no specialized school in Bagrot, as generally outside the big cities.
Winter Holidays in the High Mountains
On 11th of December, the seven week school holidays begin in the high mountain province of Gilgit-Baltistan. It gets too cold to stay in the largely unheated school rooms. The small wood stoves, typically for Bagrot, are far too small to warm a class room.
Education opens Doors
After my last years review of our educational project over 25 years, I would like to give a few examples today. Most of the first girls' school graduates are employed at government primary schools in the villages of Bagrot and in Gilgit. A typical profession for educated women in rural areas of Pakistan. Many students from Bagrot today arDie aus Spenden finanzierten Collegeklassen also aspiring to a teacher's degree. A young woman holds a master's degree in chemistry and teaches at Girls Hih School today. We would like to win her over for some college lessons in the afternoon. Since she has small children, she still can not afford it, even if the extra income would come in handy. A young mother works as a police officer in Gilgit. She does service at the registration desk of the airport. We met her there quite unexpectedly during the last year. She rceived us beaming and confident and reminded us of her school years in the Girls' School. Without this hint I would not have recognized her. Another yong woman has completed nursing education and has been fighting for employment for a long time. After having enforced the divorce of her already arranged marriage, she now works as a practice assistant in a large medical practice outside the Bagrot Valley. A young woman has a driving licence, she transports vegetables and fruits to the shops in Gilgit. I am waiting eagerly for the first women's taxi in Bagrot. In the absence of public transport, women rely on the few places in overloaded private jeeps for trips from Bagrot to the city. Aqila, 35, started sellng women's clothing and school supplies from her home a few years ago. Last year she had a shop built next to her husbands grocery store. Nabila, the deaf young woman in Bagrot, has been teaching deaf and dumb children in official sign language and the usual school subjects for several years now. She herself attended a special school in Karachi. Her father was stationed there for many years. Naima (26) is studying English and Education in the last semester at the still-young Gilgit University (KIU: Karakorum International University). She is very ambitios and plans postgaduate studies in Karachi. Her This alows to reconcile work and family andhusband works and lives there. She receives full support from her family and husband for her plans. We are curios to see what happens after the birth of the second child next summer. Meanwhile some young women from Bagrot study away from home in Islamabad and Karachi and live in a student dorm during the semester. Few families can afford that. And without the school education in Bagrot and a good degree, the study would be unthinkable. Asking the college students in Bagrot for their career aspirations, teaching is a constant topic. This allows to reconcile work and family and secures a steady income. Single girls aspire to study medicine or science education. Here the entrance barriers are high and training possibilities exist only far from the native region. Obviosly: The girls and young women have their own plans, despite the fact that many of them are already married. School and college education offer real opportunities and chances which are pragmatically balanced and used.
The total cost of teachers funded by private donations is € 20.000 during the current school year.
We are very grateful for any support. There are some good examples that may encourage imitation:
Fund Raising 2018
- 5. Reading Marathon (Readathon) at Ursulinen Secondary School, Cologne: 90 students from grades 5 - 7 participated and secured the proud sum of 3.550 Euro. Hats off! Our thanks also go to the initiator and teacher Elisabeth Lammering, who organized this action already for the 5th time.
- By students for students: The students and teachers of Berufsbildende Schule der Heinrich-Haus gGmbH, a vocational school in Neuwied supported us energetically with their actions and donations.
- Donations instead of flowers and gifts:Relatives, Friends and dear neighbours used round birthdays and golden and a green wedding as an opportunity to support the good cause.
- Sewing for the good cause: A friend sews in her leisure time with great dedication. The proceeds of the sale she donates to the school project. This year she sewed many, many Cologne keychains and individually designed cushions.
- Donation instead of fees:3 women are regularly training with a yoga teacher, who insists on donating the fees.
- Some permanent donors, longtime supporters and the members of Forum Kinder in Not e.V. contribute significally to the continuity of the school. I am very grateful for their trust and loyalty.
Your donations go 100% to the educational project. I thank all supporters for their dedication to the good cause. A many-voiced Thank You and countless greetings to the largely unknown German sponsors from the students, parents and teachers in Bagrot valley.
Best Regards from Hamburg
Your Monika Schneid
Marienthaler St. 156
Forum Kinder in Not e.V.
Please state the keyword “Pakistan” for earmarked donations.
Please support us with your donation, which is tax deductible. A donation receipt will be sent to you when your postal address is given.
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