By: Taj Ali Shah- Shangla
One of my neighbors once told me that a government school where he had studied for years is now no on the ground and its pupils compelled on to study in rough tents in harsh weather even.
The situation of education is worst in the district Shangla as its over 200 schools had been demolished after the 2005 earthquake and many of them still awaiting reconstruction, while the GHS Amnovi is one of them yet to be completed.
The scenic Amnovi valley is located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Shangla district. It is a mountainous region and bordering area linked with Malm Jabba of Swat district.
The vast landscape has been blessed with natural beauty and resources: widespread pastures, thick forests, singing waterfalls, tasty natural springs plenty of water reserves, surrounded by majestic mountains.
The area also holds large deposits of emeralds. But unfortunately, it has been ignored by the excessive governments and elected representatives of all eras.
The gravity of ignorance can be observed from the fact that the female literacy rate is below 14 percent.
And the locals are heavily dependent on coal mines which have reduced the life expectancy of poverty riding mass of the valley. Every other day we receive this sad news that the roof of a coal mine collapsed or a gas explosion occurred within it and many lost their lives. The second main source of income is agriculture.
The main crop is maize. The lands are only fertile during summer, as snow falls in the winter season. This crop needs too much time and labor to grow with a low yield. Due to low income and lack of mainstream traffic people used to migrate to cities during the winter season. Where they live a miserable life. It’s a shameful moment for the state of government that in the whole area there are even no girls high school.
A student Raham Wali expressing himself, as said, “During my winter vacation I worked in a hotel in nearby Mingora city to earn livelihood”. He told me that I too cannot study well because my father is a collier and all responsibilities of my home are on my shoulders.
One of the teachers of the school, Mr. Aziz ud Din expressed his concern about the area, “we are facing many problems besides education: health, infrastructure, and poverty”.
Besides the cultural barriers and absence of educational institutions in the district, norms, customs, and traditions of the area have also negatively impacted the girl education.
Locals are less interested to send their daughters to schools, however, prefer boys and enrolled them in schools.
A social team had conducted a survey on “obstacles to education in Amnovi”, which reveals 80 Percent of students are unable to get their education due to poverty.
The survey suggested that people cannot afford to enroll their children in other cities for good quality education. According to Raham Wali (the student of GHS Amnovi), “During my winter vacation, I work in a hotel in nearby city Mingora for bread and butter”. Besides poverty, awareness is also a major factor contributing to the sad state of education in this area.
According to Plato, “state is a guardian” which means the state will ensure the fundamental rights of the citizens. But in the case of these people, it’s more than an enemy. However, the government should play its due role to improve the living standards of the locals.
The government can prioritize the following areas in the best interest of the people of Amnovi: education, health, infrastructure, tourism, and agriculture and wildlife management.