BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
GILGIT: An activist from Diamer valley of Gilgit – Baltistan (G-B) Khan Muhammad Qureshi has launched a rare campaign to educate girls in his valley.
Qureshi belongs to a valley where only one percent of the 0.1 million women are literate.
According to Alif Ailaan’s Pakistan District Education Rankings 2013 Report, Diamer district is ranked at 136 out of 140 in the country.
“Girls education is my dream but I know the overall situation is quite challenging,” Qureshi said on Thursday. “But for that matter I hold government more responsible than the clerics or politicians,” says Qureshi who runs his campaign under Himalayan Conservation and welfare movement, a registered body.
The valley is known for its strong tribal customs and one of its examples came to fore when local people in Tangir and Darel valleys barred women from voting in G-B legislative assembly polls largely because voting by women in the presence of outsider males was contrary to their customs. On the other hand, local women weren’t educated enough to do the job themselves.
Qureshi says he met various clerics in Diamer’s Thore, Niat and Babusar [TNB] areas recently and found them cooperative.
But I don’t find initiatives and will from government, he laments.
Qureshi says the two primary school buildings meant for girls in those areas are being used for boys education. “I got to know this when I checked the record. It was shocking at least for me,” he told of the school building located in TNB being inhabited by more than 35000 people.
He said of the 70 home schools present in the documents, only 20 are functional in the entire district.
“I plan to reach out to 20,000 people to get their support and I appeal them to reciprocate,” he said about his plan that also including meeting with G-B chief minister, chief secretary and professionals residing outside G-B.
In a report titled ‘State of Children in Pakistan’ released this year by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Distance, culture, and bias against girls’ education have had a serious impact on the participation of girls in education, especially at the middle school level and above. The issue is particularly acute in Diamer which perform poorly on girl’s education due to a more pronounced gender bias.