The residents of a remote village Tharparkar district of Sindh province in Pakistan have taken it upon themselves to educate their children under any circumstances after they lost hope in the government.
Saal Bheel in Chachro along Pakistan-India border, a small village of about fifty households has never been fortunate enough to own a school building for its young inhabitants. The nearest school is eight kilometers away in an adjacent village making it difficult for the children of Saal Bheel to commute back and forth daily.
Villagers demanded several times from the local administration to open a primary school in their vicinity, but to no avail. At last, the villagers decided to set up a makeshift school themselves with limited resources available to them.
The primary school that consists of a few straw-thatched huts now offers education to 105 children but only 80 attend the school on regular basis. The small huts are too frail to protect children from rain, wind, and scorching heat of Tharparkar but it does not deter them from their resolve of attaining the education.
With their sheer determination, the villagers also hired two fairly qualified fellow villagers to teach their children, and pay them collectively.
The female teacher Tara Bai is a tenth-grade graduate while the male teacher Khangar Bhail is an eighth-grade graduate. Interestingly both of them are siblings too and are passionate about their mission to empower the children of their village with education.
The parents contribute to the fund meant to pay the teachers. The money collected from the parents is equally divided between the two teachers, which varies from five thousand to seven thousand rupees and sometimes less than that.
Since agriculture is the main source of income for the villagers, therefore the teachers’ monthly pay is subject to the quality of the produce. There are some very poor parents who can’t afford to contribute to the fund but still send their children to the school.
If the village of Saal Bheel needs anything at all, it is a school building offering a quality of education to its young generation. On the one hand, the provincial government of Sindh has built number of school buildings which remain vacant, while on the other hand, the residents of Saal Bheel are desperate for education but the local administration is turning a blind and a deaf ear to their pleas, complain villagers.
G.R.Junejo is working with Pak Voices as a citizen journalist from Mithi, Tharparkar.
All photos by the author