Lower Dir is a district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where people are quite rigid with their religious norms andstrictly adhere to their cultural values. Being an enormously male dominated society, gender inequality is quite a common experiencedphenomena in the district.
During my monitoring visits to various districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,I come across a number of touching stories of children that would make one feel pity for their ill fate. While I was in the villages visiting households along with the volunteers, out of curiosity and interest to comprehend the ground situation,I was watching things with anobservatorylens.In the course of aday long visit, I noticed several kids who were looking at us with questions in their eyes regarding their future. I witnessed children who I believed, if properly guided and mentored can greatly make it to the highest in the realm of education.
In one of the household I happened to meet twin girls of 8 years old. Although they did not belong to any of the 20 sampled households from where volunteers (enumerators) were choosing children (5-16 years) to be assessed for the three basic competenciesbut they were chasing us to different householdsin the village looking at the children being assessed with regret for something they lack. Understanding their situation, just for the sake of knowing, I inquired about their education.One of the twinvery innocently uttered that we don’t go to school but four ofour brothers go.When I asked why, they remain quiet with no answer. Feeling pity for them,when we were about to leave when one of the child said to us “Do you know we also want to go to school”. Their innocent and heart touching appeal was strong enough to move my soul and heart and I decided to help them.To know the opinion of their father and to try to convince him to send the girls to school, Ialong with the volunteers followed the girls to their home. Fortunately their father was at home and came out to meet us.He was quite humble and greeted us with warmth and respect. Following the greetings, I excused him for taking his time and told him about ASER and our purpose to be in the village. Making a ground for discussion on the education of their daughters, I told him that your twin daughters appear to be really bright,why you are not sending them to school? He chuckledat my question and lamented that you are aware of the fact that in a country where prices of basic necessities are talking to the sky,howa personlike me who works on daily wages with less than 300 rupees can bear the cost for educating 6 children. EvenI hardly manage the cost of pen and notebooksincurred in educating my four sons.Once he was over with his explanation, Ilectured the man for some 10 minutes about theimportance of educating girls. After a long conversation finally I managed to convince him and he promised me to get his twin daughtersadmitted into school in the coming year.
There are a lot of such stories you will come across while working in the villages of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.ASER is not only a survey to unveil the state of qualityeducation but it also aims to share the real life stories of children who are deprived of education owing to poverty, gender inequality, and many other reasons.