MINGORA: A charity organisation has opened a high school for poor girls in Islampur village, where this year a first batch of 15 pupils passed the secondary school certificate examination results with flare.
The village had only a primary girls school, and the students wanting to continue further education had no middle or high school and their families could not afford sending them to a girls high school about 10 kilometers away in Saidu Sharif.
The Swat Relief Initiative Foundation established the Islampur school and seven others in the rural areas of Swat in 2014.
The welfare organisation is run by the members of a royal family of the former Swat state.
The girls said opening of the school was a blessing for them because they had passion for higher education and joining professional fields to serve their communities.
Saida Aman, who topped her school by securing A-1 grade in the SSC examination results, said she wanted to become a doctor because there was no female doctor in her village.
“I belong to a poor family and my father could not afford sending me to high school in Saidu Sharif. Luckily, when I passed grade five in 2014 this school was opened in our village where I took admission,” she told Dawn.
She said the teaching environment in the school was completely activity-based.
Salva Khan, another girl who also passed 10th grade securing A-1 grade, said: “I believe that women education is important not only for their families but also for community and country at large. If the government had established middle and high schools for girls today thousands of girls from poor families would have received higher education,” she said.
Zebunisa Jilani, a philanthropist, nutritionist and granddaughter of the former Swat state ruler Miangul Jahan Zeb, is the co-founder and president of the Swat Relief Initiative Foundation. She told Dawn that her family was in US when the Swat valley was engulfed by militancy and many people from the valley contacted her for help.
“Initially, we started relief activities along with medical services in the IDPs camps and later on launched a comprehensive campaign of social mobilisation, preventive healthcare and vocational centres for women,” she said, adding she and her family visited far-flung areas and found that government schools for girls were not available in many areas, thus she decided to provide education to girls of rural areas.
She said children in hilly and remote areas had potential and passion for education and the girls of Islampur village proved it in the SSC examinations conducted by the BISE Swat.
Ms Jilani said she was grateful to her friends and relatives in Pakistan and United States who supported her in the cause.
Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2019