Back to school... and life

Growth of anti-state activities and militancy in Swatvalley in Pakistan from 2006 to 2009 destroyed a substantial number of schools and left many young children orphan, homeless, uneducated and unprotected from the militants.

By (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Wed 12 Jan 2011, 12:04 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:41 AM

After Pakistan Army’s successful operation against the militants, internally displaced families started returning to Swatin huge numbers. Many children had lost their parents. Schooling was not possible and the situation was critical, worsened by the traditional poverty and ignorance of the local people.

Instead of being silent onlookers to the happenings in their home country, the members of Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) decided to provide the orphans shelter, globally-recognised high quality education and guidance to protect them from the bad effects of the society, make them useful citizens of the state, and strong enough to meet the growing challenges of a rapidly changing world.

Thus, Parwarish School and Hostel was born on November 9, 2009, in a rented building in Qambar village on the GT Road near SWAT’s main city Mingora. The 16-room building is located in a peaceful and green environment, has a vast lawn, and a playground.

A survey conducted in 25 union councils out of 65 in Swatfound 2,213 orphans. Among them 45 boys, five to 10 years old, were selected for admission in Parwarish. All their educational, residential and recreational needs are taken care of.

Every effort has been made to provide basic facilities to the children as available to the children of the well-to-do families. Modern and up-to-date techniques are used to impart quality education through phonics methodology. For this purpose Afaq Sun series of text books have been selected and qualified female teaching staff were appointed. The medium of instruction is English and students are assessed weekly and monthly. For theology and Quran classes, a religious scholar was hired for two hours in the afternoon.

These 45 students of nursery, kindergarten, class 1 and 2 celebrated the completion of their first year at an annual day programme at the Parwarish ground recently, during which awards among the distinguished students and teachers were also distributed. The students presented national songs, skits and tableau to highlight the importance of education. A large number of students’ family members, both men and women, and prominent people of the area, were there to encourage the students. They were welcomed by students dressed in Pakistan Army’s uniform. The students were confident, well mannered and spoke good English at a young age, thanks to their management and teachers.

The annual day was attended by a delegation of PAD members led by its president Mohammed Riaz Farooq Sahi, who was the chief guest at the annual day. The delegation included Khayal Zaman Orakzai, Ghazi Marjan, Shah Hussain Orakzai, Sajjad Hussain, Shahab Hussain and Abdul Karim.

Speaking on the occasion, Sahi said that Parwarish would turn its students into the best citizens of Pakistan. “We have not compromised on the quality of teachers and the standard of education. We have also maintained transparency in all our affairs,” he said.

PAD Relief, PAD’s NGO in Pakistan, looks after the necessary assistance to Parwarish. Its chairman Naveed Anwar said that the available resources have to be used in the right direction to create a bright future for the orphans to have a long-lasting impact.

Parwarish’s patron in Chief Major-General (Rtd) Dr Farrukh Seir was confident that the school would eventually grow into a university. He stressed upon a strategic approach concentrating on the progress of the students and the institution, opening of new branches and development of its own sustainable resources.

“The students have gone through the trauma of their parents’ death. But, I am happy that they are confident, not nervous,” he said.

Praising the role of Parwarish in educating the orphans of the area, Brigadier Saeed Ullah Khan, Pakistan Army’s Operational Commander in SWAT, said that he could not find words to describe the conditions through which the people and their children had gone through during the period of militancy.

“A bomb blast, a suicide attack or a gunshot could be expected anywhere and from any direction. Today, life is back to normal and the students are back to their studies,” he said.

Naeem Ullah, director of Parwarish and PAD Relief’s coordinator for SwatDistrict, said that the situation resulting from militancy was so critical that Parwarish had to be grown as soon as possible. Only 45 children from 2,213 orphans are benefitting from the institution, but the fact is that the first step, which is always the most difficult, has been taken and PAD is determined to move forward with the help of overseas Pakistanis.

Naeem said that a survey has been completed to admit 25 girls from three union councils with pick and drop facility in 2011. He also presented the expenditure statement.

Khayal Zaman Orakzai, President of Pak-Khyber Wing of PAD, said that in Parwarish the foundation has been laid for a great institution. “We have to work hard for its development,” he said promising all out help.

Mahboob Ali, Parwarish Principal, said similar facilities would be set up to house more children and the institution would be made self-dependent.

The teachers are taking special caution and care in handling the traumatised students. They are like parents to the children in supporting them.

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