By: Fazal Khaliq
MINGORA: Breaking the centuries-old cultural barriers, parents in a remote village of Swat have started sending their daughters to a middle school for boys to get education.
Mangar Kot, a village consisting of about 1,500 houses in Kishoara union council, has only one primary school for girls. The girls in Mangar Kot have no other choice but to quit education after passing the fifth grade.
The nearest middle school for girls is more than 12 kilometres away from the village. Most of the villagers cannot afford to arrange transport for their children. They demanded of the successive governments to establish a middle school for girls in the village but in vain.
People in Mangar Kot have started sending their daughters to boys’ school for getting education
“My daughter wanted to continue education after passing primary school but there was no middle or high school for girls in the village,” said Gul Mohammad, a local resident. He added that his daughter passed matriculation examination as a private candidate.
“When our requests about setting up a middle school for girls went unheard, we decided to send our girls to the boys’ school after passing primary school. It is not considered good in our society to send girls to boys’ school, but we are compelled to do so as we want our daughters to get education,” said Mohammad Kamal, another villager.
Initially, eight girls have got admission in the middle school for boys where they sit in the front row in the classroom. “My father cannot afford to hire a vehicle for me and I cannot walk for ten kilometres to reach the middle school for girls so we have come to the boys’ school,” Almas, a sixth grader, told Dawn.
She said that although sitting with so many boys seemed awkward but they were ready for it for the sake of their education.
The boys, sitting in the back rows in the classroom, couldn’t hide their smile when Almas said that she wanted to become a pilot. “There are many other girls, who want to get education but their fathers don’t allow them to sit with boys,” she said and demanded of the government to establish a high school for girls in the village.
Students at the middle school have no chairs and desks and they have to sit on tattered mats. There is only one teacher in the school.
“The government should post more teachers in the middle school and provide chairs and tables and proper stationery to the school,” said Pashmeen, the only teacher at the middle school.
“The government should post more teachers in the middle school so that our children can get proper education,” said Gul Halim, an elder of the village.
There is also only one teacher at the primary school in the village. “There is only one teacher in the primary school for girls. How one teacher can teach to six classes at a time,” questioned Taj Rehman.
Mian Syed, the tehsil councillor, told Dawn that government recently approved a middle school for boys in Mangar Kot village. “We have already conveyed the demands of the villagers about middle school for the girls and I am sure that soon the primary school for girls will be upgraded,” he said.