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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The rewards of education

Sadaf Javeed is a resident of village Dehri Maira located in a remote area of Abbottabad. Mos t people of the village live below the poverty line and live without basic amenities. The major source of income of the villagers is farming and raising livestock.

The literacy rate is also low with a 55% educated male population literacy rates amongst female as low as 20%. The low female literacy rate can be attributed to a scarcity of education facilities that cater to female students in the area or close to it. The nearest middle and high school are located about 17 kilometers from village.

Although lacking in education, the female members of the community are very hard workers and contribute equally if not more in the day-to-day tasks ranging from raising crops and daily chores. According to Sadaf even though women make huge contributions to the community they still feel unappreciated and think that they are excluded from the decision making process by the men.

Sadaf believes that one way to empower women and give them confidence is to offer them opportunities to educate themselves regardless of their age. Education not only helps women recognize their rights and become independent, but also increases their capacity to make larger contributions to their families and the society at large.

This is especially true for mothers. An educated mother can take care of her children and family in a better way. She can provide better guidance, be a better role model, and be more aware of her child’s health. An educated mother also places a higher priority on ensuring a good quality education for her children.

Sadaf decided to hold adult literacy classes at her own home. She invited the village women to attend these basic education classes. The women embraced this opportunity to learn but they faced resistance from their male family members: it was a difficult task in some cases to convince men that the women would spend time allotted previously to work and chores to attend classes.

In a bid to win the support of the male members of the village Sadaf, her mother, and aunt organized groups of women to hold discussions with male heads of families of the village about the importance of education at any age and to convince them to let the women of their household to attend the adult literacy classes.

Sadaf’s adult literacy centre started off with 10 members which has steadily risen to 28 members. Sadaf also reached out to different NGOs and government organizations and was able to secure free of cost books and stationary items for her literacy centre.

Teaching did not prove a hard task for Sadaf who has impressive credentials with a bachelors of arts in education and a masters of arts in Political Science. She did have to be very patient with women who could not read or write at all. To reach students such as this Sadaf adopted a visual style of teaching: she uses cutouts of letters and numbers, and pictures of places and animals to make learning a fun and interactive process.

For Sadaf the reward for her hard work and patience is the new-found confidence in her students and the ways in which education has made their lives easier and richer.

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