Sunday, October 11, 2009

NYT: A Schoolgirl's Odyssey

Here is an excellent short documentary (about 20 mins), A Schoolgirl's Odyssey. It provides not only a glimpse of the complex situation in Swat, but also highlights a wonderful desire for education. They could not have picked a better schoolgirl to follow - she is absolutely amazing. The first part of this documentary tracks this family's move out of Swat. But the most powerful moments come when they return to Swat after the Pakistani military had cleared off the Taliban.

Please check out the video here.

There is a related story in today's NYT about the slow pace of rebuilding in Swat.

Mohammed Shah Hussain, a teacher at Nazarabad Government Boys School, walks thought what is left of the school after the Taliban destroyed it in February. About 20 percent of all schools in the Swat Valley are destroyed or unusable, Unicef says.

Mr. Hussein estimated that more than half of his male students were not coming to school because they were afraid the military would arrest them for Taliban involvement. He is also nervous about sticking out, now that he has assumed the role of spokesman for families, mostly illiterate, asking about relatives who are in military custody.

Illiteracy makes villagers easy to ignore. Taja Bibi, a villager who cannot read, but whose bright 12-year-old daughter, Rabihat, aches to return to school, said she had not even bothered to ask when it might reopen.

“We can’t argue, and we can’t respond,” she said, sitting on a dirt floor in a small house that is home to more than 20 people. “They don’t consider us worth talking to.”

For Mr. Hussein, creating an educated class that knows its rights is the only hope for change in Pakistan.

But that requires schools, and the ones in his village are gone.

“We are the losers,” he said.
Read the full story here.


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