In the Hushe Valley the problem of poor education, which in many cases is non-existent, permeates and hinders all areas of ordinary life in the community. The level of adult literacy, especially amongst women, is less than 20%. Only around 50% of children have access to education and education access for girls is a particularly acute problem.
In addition, there are no vocational courses for older children which might facilitate access to the labour market. Children often leave school after learning only the basics of a trade. The result is a lack of interest leading to subsequent dropout.
Regular schools are small and do not have the necessary infrastructure to provide quality education. The professional teachers are not qualified and their teaching methods are ineffective. The teachers do not have adequate educational materials or buildings with adequate facilities. The work that the Felix Foundation has been conducting in the field of education since 2001, aims to strengthen education in the community of the Hushe Valley and to improve its quality, accessibility and equity.
Listed below are some of our projects:
Project Sharbi Nima (Balti Sunrise)
Sharbi Nima is an educational strategy with an approach based on local leadership, gender equality and community development, which is endogenous, inclusive and sustainable. This is a long term project, designed and divided into several stages, that seeks to create a high quality education system in the area.
The Sharbi Nima Project
Background: FFB began this project as a progression of a local initiative to improve the education of children. In 1998 a group of mothers, fathers and teachers from the villages of Saling and Machulo, seeing that education quality was poor in the schools, decided to create a new school for their children. The name of the new school was 'The Munawar School' and it was intended to improve the quality of teaching, ensuring a teacher for every classroom and effective teaching in English. However, the Munawar School only taught up to grade 5 students and the parents then had problems to send their children to study in other schools because they were again not happy with the level of education given in the Government schools of Machulo. Nor did they want to send their daughters to study in other towns.
To continue their studies at Secondary school or High school, the students had to travel 20 km and many families could not afford school fees, travel costs or lodging. With the support of the Felix Baltistan Foundation the Sharbi Nima Project has managed to extend education to grade 10 in the town of Machulo. For those who want to continue to study advanced courses outside the valley, the Foundation has granted scholarships. Munawar School's enrolment in the last 4 years has achieved parity in the numbers of girls and boys and even achieved an increased demand for the schooling of girls, which is now spreading to other schools in the valley.
The Sharbi Nima Project enters a second phase from 2010 with the beginning of the construction of a new school and the introduction of a new educational model that will revolutionise the educational situation of the people of the valley. The new model which Sharbi Nima proposes is an affordable one which is sustainable, has quality and is based on the standard of self-organisation and participation, founded on the following principles:
- Local leadership for endogenous development.
- Planning and continuous improvement.
- Targeted at the entire population of the Hushe Valley - primarily girls and school-age children - with a duration of two years.
- Training throughout life.
- Cooperation with other organizations (Administration, PDCN) and Training (empowerment of local associates).
- Equal opportunities and gender size.
- Complementary to other initiatives in the valley run by the Pakistani Government, other institutions and NGOs.
- Focus on those groups which are particularly sensitive to situations of discrimination.
- Sustainability for the future. To do this we are developing a strategy to involve the Government of Ghanche and Gilgit-Baltistan in financing most of the costs. The Government has already shown signs of cooperation with the provisional assignment of a building for the Munawar School and the transfer of land to build a new school.
The FFB provides stipends to young people whose parents are unable to pay for their education. Over 50 scholarships for higher education have now been awarded. The distribution is made equally between boys and girls.
Before this intervention it was beyond the imagination of many young people, especially girls, to travel from the Hushe Valley to Islamabad, Lahore, Gilgit or even to Skardu. Now, thanks to the generous support of our donors, many students have gained admission to colleges and universities in various cities in Pakistan.
Higher Education Scholarships for Girls
The FFB has been offering limited numbers of higher education scholarships. The success of this scheme has increased awareness of the benefits of higher education and we are seeing big increases in demand. Until recently, it was beyond the imagination of any young woman to be able to travel to Islamabad, Lahore or Rawalpindi, but now they too can gain access to the best universities; Quid-e-Azam, Islamic University Islamabad, etc. Unfortunately, very few parents can afford the higher expenses.
We currently have two levels of sponsorship for higher education; 200,000/- rps or 100,000/- rps (US$ 2,000 or US$ 1,000) per two year course. The award level is dependent on institution, type of course, etc. Candidate selection and monitoring schemes are already in place. For this project we propose a separate sponsorship scheme dedicated to young women
Adult Literacy Centres for Women
A new project to set up literacy centres in each village. The centres will teach reading and writing skills to women. They will also provide education about health and hygiene, pregnancy and the importance of childrens education, especially of girls.
1,386,000/- rps (approx.US$ 14,200) for 6 months
Computer Literacy Courses for Girls
We are currently building our Professional Development Centre in the valley using local labour and materials. Once finished, we will be able to offer computer courses and computing facilities. This will bring huge advantages and provide links to higher level learning.
At the moment we are providing an individual computer to each school in the valley. This new project will be a revolutionary change. We are looking for funding to provide an instructor and to buy computers to run courses. Following our philosophy of female empowerment, the courses will have a strong focus on the female population.
1,060,000/- rps (approx. US$ 10,900)
Free School Transport for Girls
A positive result of recent tragic events has been that every girl wants to be like Malala Yousufzai and continue their education beyond the grades offered by the local schools. We have been offering daily transport schemes to take students to schools in Khapulo to continue their studies, but we are now struggling to accommodate all the girls.
We propose to remedy this situation by implementing a dedicated transport system for girls. The town of Khapulo is, for the children of the upper valley, a jeep drive of up to 2 hours each way on dangerous mountain tracks.
The anticipated cost, including management and monitoring, is 1,044,000/- rps (approx. US$ 10,700) per year
Funding for Two Girls to Study Agriculture
Agriculture forms the basis of food and income for every family in the area. For the most part, it is done by the women. We need to provide education in how to improve both production and the household diet. We propose to sponsor two girls from the community to study agriculture and fruit growing, in return they will pass on what they have learned and empower their peers.
Estimated cost 200,000/- rps (US$ 2,000) per two year course