Haleema, daughter of Ibrahim, is a 17 year old girl from Basha in Grade 11.
Haleema completed middle school in her village and was a bright student who always was first in her class. However, there were no opportunities to continue to secondary school; her village did not have a secondary school, and her father, as a farmer and breadwinner for a family of twelve, could not afford to send her to Skardu. Without the option of secondary school, Haleema was married at an early age.
Coincidentally, Haleema’s husband was studying in Skardu, so he brought Haleema with him. Despite being close to a secondary school, they did not have a source of income to continue Haleema’s education and lived in a charity home with their son.
Haleema became a Iqra Fund Scholarship Student in 2013 after learning about the program from her father. She recently passed her Grade 10 matrix exams and says that Iqra Fund workshops have brought her more confidence in her education.
As a student, mother, and wife, Haleema is learning how to balance her studies with her domestic tasks. She schedules to study during the night, after the completion of her domestic work. Haleema is passionate about continuing her education and wants to serve her home community by becoming a teacher. Her advice to younger generations of girls is to not spend time “only in domestic work and fruitless tasks. [Girls] should all strive to make most use of their skills through proper education in order to shine through.”
Nargis, a second grader from Hushe Valley, writes about her plans for the future. Nargis is one of the 1,218 girls Iqra Fund has enrolled in elementary school with locally-trained teachers.
My name is Nargis Batool. I am a student of Class Two at Mashebrum Public School in Hushe. My father is a farmer, and my mother is a housewife. I have six sisters and three brothers.
I want to be a teacher and educate my community, especially about the importance of girls’ education. In my community, girls’ education isn’t considered to be good. But in my opinion, education is as important for girls as boys. I think education is good for me and my family. After my education, I will get a good job and support my family.
Going to school has changed my life. I am eight years old now. Unlike my older sisters, who were married at 13 years old, I am happy to be in school. I wish that my education goes up to college level. I am very thankful for Iqra Fund!
Written by: Nargis, Second Grade from Mashebrum Public School in Hushe Valley, and Bashir Ahmed, Program Director of Iqra Fund
The girls and communities who Iqra Fund support are among the rising number of girls going to school. Do you think you know all about girls and education in the world today? Take our quiz and show us how much you know!
Teaching and learning is not a single event; it is a life long process. Everyone is involved in this process in life, intentionally or unintentionally, and it takes place formally as well as informally. The influences of teachers have an everlasting effect on students. For me, school is like a garden of knowledge where students are colorful flowers with different abilities and competencies and teachers are the gardeners who nurture the flowers with zeal and zest.
It was soon after my graduation that I joined a garden to fulfill my ambition of life, which was to serve the flowers like a gardener. I thought teaching and learning was a very easy task that anyone could perform, but when I started my journey I faced a lot of challenges. My approach was totally traditional: to deliver lectures to the students and transfer the knowledge into empty vessels. I considered students as blank slates and it was my job to draw a shape according to my choice for the children. I tried to give lectures and lectures but my students were not ready to listen. My intention was to control the class and grasp their attention. Sometimes, I used a stick to control them. Gradually, I became fed-up of my routines and wanted to quit the job as soon as possible.
One day, some female guests visited our school. I saw them in the corridor through the window of my classroom. They were about to enter the classroom, so I taught my students to say “good morning, madam”. Suddenly, a male guest entered the classroom and the students said “good morning madam”. He replied very politely that he was not a female therefore they could say “good morning sir”. He took five minutes in the classroom and I was surprised to observe the motivation level in my students. Students were highly motivated towards him, listening carefully and responding well.
This moment gave me “food for thought” and created a disturbance in my mind as to why I could not catch the students’ motivation for what he did in the class. I reflected my practices and analyzed with different sources. After the class, I met him and shared my issues with the classroom. He appreciated that a teacher came to him to discuss his/her classroom issues. I shared honestly that I wanted to be a skillful gardener but these challenges made it difficult to survive in the garden anymore. He advised me to use a few techniques and strategies of his to motivate students in the classroom. Thereafter, I followed his suggestions. I am very happy that I can motivate students with my lessons. I also enjoy my teaching and learning in the classroom.
By Ayub Hussain, Iqra Fund Teacher and Bashir Ahmed, Program Director
“I believe that girls’ education means the education of a whole nation, and empowering girls through education leads to the development of the nation automatically,” Sabeen Zahra, Program Officer of Iqra Fund says. “Girls’ education is very important to me. To remove antiquated traditions related to females in the male-dominated society – e.g. early marriages, male dominancy – it is necessary to bring education and development to the nation.”
Sabeen first joined Iqra Fund in 2013, inspired by the “uniqueness” of the mission. She said that most non-profit organizations in her area provide agricultural or infrastructure support, but Iqra Fund’s focus on education was what attracted her to the program. As Program Officer, Sabeen works closely with the scholarship students to ensure they are receiving enough support through their workshops and schooling. She also monitors teachers’ performance by observing classrooms to confirm they are implementing the techniques taught in their trainings. In addition to these tasks, she works with the Managing and Program Directors to hire new teachers, collects information from field officers, and maintains records in the office.
As the first female staff member of Iqra Fund’s Baltistan team, Sabeen faced many cultural barriers when traveling to Iqra Fund’s field areas, Basha and Hushe. However, after many visits and frequent counseling with the citizens, they have come to accept the idea of women pursuing professional careers outside of the home.
Sabeen’s dream for girls in the future is for them to ultimately be empowered through education, to have a literacy rate of 100%, and to have equal status to boys and men. She hopes to see girls working in any and every field that they desire, whether it be engineering, medicine, plumbing or teaching. She says, “Girls will become the leaders of our nation. Development can only be possible when we eliminate discrimination between men and women and they strive to work together on the same path.”
Before coming to Iqra Fund, Sabeen earned a Bachelor in Arts degree in sociology from Karakoram International University Gilgit-Baltistan and is now working towards a Masters in Sociology. She also worked at Ashraf Public School Skardu as a Science Coordinator and Phonetic Teacher for two years, as well as an Officer for the LEP (Livelihood Enhancement and Protection) project at Aga Khan Rural Support Program for another two years.