I was conducting pilot survey for ASER in the outskirts of Peshawar which despite being in close proximity to the provincial capital gives a very remote rural look in terms of living patterns. As it was not an easy task for a stranger to roam in the hamlet by knocking at the doors of dwellings, so I decided to make the people know about my purpose of the visit prior to conducting the assessment. When I explained the folks in detail about the purpose of my presence in the village, I found most of the people to be supportive. A middle aged man, whom I inquired, had his education up to the intermediate level, offered me his help to accompany me without my prior request to conduct the pilot survey in the households.
As I started assessment of children in the hamlet, I found most of them to be excited and keen to be a part of the assessment. Interestingly I observed the girls comparatively more interested to be included in the assessment than the boys.
When I was almost done with my pilot survey, I come across a household where a mother was living with two of her adolescent daughters and a toddler son. When I knocked at the door voice came asking “who is there". I very politely told her about myself and asked her if it is possible for her to spare some time. She was reluctant to come out on the pretext of no male member present at home. While I was explaining her about ASER, suddenly she opened the door shouting at her children to come out. I was delighted to see her excitement and willingness to come out and meet a stranger when it was something about education. While I was assessing her children, she was very carefully and anxiously observing their performance. After finding her children’s performance unsatisfactory the women who herself was having her education up to higher secondary level quite regretfully uttered “you know they are studying in Government primary School and in government schools children are not properly taught but from now on I myself will help them at home to enhance their performance and when you well come again to assess my children you will find them to be significantly improved."
Looking at the enthusiasm and devotion of the woman, the support offered by the villagers and the eagerness of children especially girls who wanted to be a part of the assessment tells volumes about their love and respect for education in these conservative communities. It was through ASER that we have been able to find these amazing findings otherwise these stories would have remained untold and unnoticed.