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Amjad regularly plays cricket at a nearby farm with his two brothers and friends in a village located near Narowal. He used to go to school till he was old enough to work in a nearby factory. His story was similar to the other young dropouts of his village who were forced to leave school for earning income for their families. These families not only were unable to pay for their kids but also were in dire need of financial support which made it necessary for those kids to leave school and earn livelihood. When I entered the village and started moving towards the houses, kids ran fast to see what I can offer them. They had sensed something mysterious about me since I was holding documents to be filled. At first Amjad refused to give answers to the questions but later on when I started asking questions from other kids, he got jealous and called on his mother and his two little sisters. His mother was uneducated and so were his sisters but fortunately she had kept her two little sons in schools for the time being. When she first appeared she asked if I was to offer her voucher for those two kids. She was disappointed when she came to know that I was there only to ask questions and record them. It was after a great deal of convincing that she sat down and told Amjad to answer the questions.
Amjad, who dropped out a year ago, still was able to read sentences in Urdu and English and was able to solve subtraction sums. I happily told the mother “Your kid is very bright. Amjad is a drop out but still he remembers everything. Please do send him to school." His mother refused flatly. “It’s really hard for us to survive. I thought that you are here to distribute vouchers. Of course I want my children to go to school but my I cannot afford this. If you really want to do something, please ask the local NGO working here to include this part of the village for voucher scheme as well." I instantly left for NGO’s office and had a meeting with their supervisor. He acknowledged ASER efforts for reaching out to remotest parts and committed that vouchers will be distributed to the households in that area. The parents and the people from the NGO were surprised that such a noble act can be done with such conviction. This narrative is just an ordinary example of how ASER is reaching out to every segment of society for spreading the light of education.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of ASER Pakistan.