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Free of Taliban terror, displaced girl resumes study in tent school

* 16-year-old Aleema says her education was stopped because of life threats and bombing of girls’ schools by Taliban

By Akhtar Amin

MARDAN: In Sheikh Yaseen Camp, Mardan, 16-year-old Aleema restarted her education after it was stopped due to life threats from Taliban bombing of girls’ schools in Swat valley.

“I was a student of Class 9 at Girls’ Higher Secondary School at Kabal. Taliban first issued threatening letters to our school and then blown it up on September 2008,” Aleema told Daily Times. She has come to a tent school set up by Society for Awareness and Relief (STAR), a Swabi-based non-government organisation providing high school level education in relief camps. “I and thousands of other girls of the valley could not think of completing education under the Taliban rule in the area,” Aleema, fully veiled, said.

The brave girl expressed satisfaction with the way of teaching in the tent school but said it was the government responsibility to provide better education to IDPs girls and boys, hundreds of them want to continue their education. She said majority of educated girls from Swat were studying in the camps due to Taliban’s ban on girls’ education and bombing of schools. She said currently, three girls including her were registered in a STAR tent school.

She said more female students would come to tent schools if government and non-government organisations created awareness of education in relief camps. Battle between security forces and Taliban in Swat affected Aleema’s village in tehsil Kabal and her family had to flee. “I remember seeing men with long beards and long hair, their face covered except for their eyes, while going to school in Kabal,” she recalled. “During the shelling of our village I was terrified and was crying a lot,” she said.

Three non-government organisations including Muslim Hands, Philanthropist and STAR are providing education to IDPs in Sheikh Yaseen camp. In charge of Muslim Hands tent schools, Ameer Khan, said his organisation was imparting education from Class 1 to 8. He said 450 children had so far been registered in the tent schools. He said Muslim Hands had started refreshment and recreation facilities in the tent schools for the students which led to increase in their number.

Sajid Khan, supervisor of STAR tent schools, said the organisation was running schools for boys and girls from Class 6 to 10 with support of UNICEF. He said currently 150 students were registered with the schools.
Source: Daily Times
Date:5/25/2009

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