Monday, January 19, 2009

Education in mind, Bandipora villages study for change

Naseer A Ganai 

Aloosa (Bandipora), Jan 18: Bangladesh and Zurmaz are among scores villages in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district which have no proper roads and safe drinking water. Though many people of the twin villages are fishermen and unskilled laborers, education of children is their foremost priority.

“Yes we are poor but we are concerned about the education of our children,” says Ghulam Mohideen Dar, a villager of Zurmaz.

Though illiterate, Dar remembers poetry of many Kashmiri poets by heart. He says the area has been hit by the conflict and there are about 30 orphans in both the villages, but complains, the government has not done anything to help them. The government indifference is a general complaint.

The villagers of Bangladesh, Zurmaz and Malangam had assembled today at Aloosa, some three kms away, to discuss the problems confronted by them vis-à-vis education sector. The meeting was attended by students, elders and the affected children.

The students had invited K-FORD, a research and rehabilitation organization in the deliberations. The K-FORD was founded by some students of Bandipora and works in remote rural areas of Kashmir among orphans, destitute, and neglected communities.  It has adopted all 30 orphans of the village.

The issues were related to education. The villagers of Zurmaz said that the Government Middle School Zurmaz has not so far distributed books among the children. The books provided by the Board of School Education are distributed free among the government schools.

Sources in the BOSE said that they have already given books prescribed in the syllabus to concerned zonal education officers and if they have not distributed it among the children, the Education Department should take them to the task.

Mohideen said that the villagers conveyed it to the school authorities many times but to no avail. “I wonder when they would give books to children,” he asks. But the villagers are adamant that they would work hard along with the K-FORD to bring qualitative change in the villages.

There is change on the ground too. The young educated people of various villages return to their roots to help the needy ones. “I study in 1st year. But think it is my responsibility to educate those who are in need and visit the schools to see the standard of education,” said Syed Sadaqat while deliberating in the village meet. Syed hails from Malangam and says the condition of people there are miserable. “Yes, there is realization among fishermen that education would bring change but then they have day to day problems of survival,” he said. He argues that NGOs have role to play. “They have to educate people about the government schemes including social welfare schemes and in cases of orphans, they have rendered monetary help,” he said. Iqbal Lone heads the K-FORD and he hails from Astongu Bandipora. He says his organization has taken the responsibility of orphans of three villages. “In fact we distribute education material among them today,” he said, and hopes that efforts of locals and students would bring change. Having reading books and school bag, provided by the K-FORD, in his lap Suhail Ahmad Dar was more than happy. Dar who is orphan but wants to study says he was waiting for government books (BOSE books) but they have not delivered. “Now, I these two months I have books to study,” he said.

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