In working closely with the Gujjar communities in the Ghizer District of Northern Pakistan, we strive to listen to their needs and requests, not push our own plan of what is best for them. When we began to hear of the great need for middle school classrooms and teachers, we made it our priority to step in and meet those needs.
One Gujjar community leader, Sher Nadir Khan- Principal of Hamran school said– “There is one main problem in this area, after the kids pass class 5, there is no teacher available and the children can’t continue their studies. Even now, many older students come to our school. We try to teach them on the side, but we don’t have enough time to teach them in addition to our primary level classes. These kids are getting left behind. This is the main problem. Please bring another teacher for the higher classes, the people will be even more enthusiastic about education! Something is better than nothing.”
So we’ve done just that…Shining Light has hired not one or two, but FOUR female teachers to start jumping in and teaching these students that are ready to continue past grade 5. We don’t have the middle school buildings yet, but we are ready, and have already begun preparing students to continue their studies.
Why does it matter that they are female?
The Gujjars we work with are primarily Sunni Muslims, with a history of believing that educating girls was a sin. However, with much discussion, and witnessing the powerful changes in their children, hundreds of families have begun to send their daughters to school. Primary school has been seen as fairly safe time to allow their girls to be in school, but once girls enter middle school age (typically around puberty) it is seen as improper to have them taught by male teachers. With female teachers in place, the goal is increase the likelihood that families will allow their daughters to continue their education through 8th grade, and beyond!
The teachers that we have hired are devoted; they are traveling miles each day to make a difference in these students lives, and in the communities as a whole. They understand the significance of their work there, and we are so proud to have them as staff. When you donate to the building of the new middle school classrooms, you can be confident that the quality of education these young boys and girls will receive is excellent, and delivered by teachers with the true vision of SLI!
There have been many changes since I first came here to teach. The people are saying that the children feel a new passion for education. The parents used to marry their girls after 8th class and stop their education, but one uncle told me, ‘Because of you, my daughter is attending high school in Ishkomen.’ It’s because there is no high school here. The girls at our school are saying that because of seeing us (female teachers) they have a passion for education and want to continue their studies and help their parents. I am happy to be here. I am proud to be teaching here, and that my students may go on to become teachers or doctors. I am proud of this. I came here as a sister because we have the same union. I am their sister, and so I serve here as a sister.
I first came from the Diamond Jubilee school, which is the best school in the area, and when I first arrived and saw the condition of the students, I was really concerned. I thought, ‘How can I change this situation?’ With the help of Shining Light and the other teachers, the challenges began to decrease. In this way, we began to teach the children. From then until now things have gotten much better. There have been big improvements in the students in reading and writing. They have improved in every subject, it’s not like before. They were very weak in school before, so many changes have happened since I began here. There are fewer girls than boys in school, but when I first came, there were very few girls, but we started a campaign saying, ‘Send your girls to school. We are women, and we came here to teach, and we are someone’s daughters too. We are teaching here, so why don’t you send your daughters to school?’ So we promoted this from house to house and more girls started coming to the school. Now between 6th and 8th class there are 8 or 9 girls. In these backward areas, the culture says that they should not educate girls. What’s the point? What can they do? What will they do with education after they finish school? Buts its not just about getting a job and earning money. If we educate a girl, we are educating a whole household. Education enables women to take better care of their children when they are sick and raise them in a good way. And when it is time to send the children to school, cleanliness is very important. An educated mother can do that. This is why it is important to educate girls. We had meetings with the parents about this and some of them have started sending their girls. It is much better now that many more girls are being admitted. One big change I have seen is that mothers never came to the school before. We said, “No! You need to come to school and ask about your children’s progress. How are they doing? Are they coming to school or not?’ Now these mothers are coming! They ask about the report cards when they are issued and want to know what is happening. It is a really great change that they are coming now. I think these changes have happened because of the female teachers. The people say, ‘Look how far they are coming to teach! They travel so far just to teach here.’ It has created more interest in education, especially for girls. Every morning I ride with my uncle on his motorcycle. I go back with him too. To travel so far every morning to teach these kids, and to serve these people…it feels really good. May I say a quote? There is a great saying: “One who opens the school door closes the prison.” Shining Light is a great example of this!
How us reach our goal of $10,000 to build a middle school building for Gumsing Village: Click Here.
Help us reach our goal of $10,000 to build a middle school building for Gumsing village!