Open sky school gets recognition after Arab News story

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Schoolchildren study under the sky in Shaga, South Waziristan district, on July 24, 2019. (Photo courtesy: Mahsud Welfare Association)
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Provisions have also been made for furniture, books, and stationery for children attending a school in Shereen Khel --- a small village on the outskirts of Makeen --- in the volatile region where a majority of the families were displaced during a crackdown by the military to rid the areas of militants. (AN photos)
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Updated 09 January 2020

Open sky school gets recognition after Arab News story

  • Article had highlighted issues faced by Pakistan’s tribal areas in setting up educational facilities
  • Nearly 400,000 children out of school in the region, official says

PESHAWAR: The keyboard is indeed mightier than the sword. 
Following a story published by Arab News last week – which highlighted how children in Pakistan’s tribal areas were unable to acquire an education due to a lack of facilities and were thus forced to study under the open skies — the military in the South Waziristan region has swung into action.
According to information received by Arab News, which was circulated on behalf of the military from the area: “A tent school has been established by the army in far-flung areas of Tehsil Makin as a temporary facility. Moreover, work on the construction of a permanent structure has also started which will be completed within a short span of time.”
Provisions have also been made for furniture, books, and stationery for children attending a school in Shereen Khel --- a small village on the outskirts of Makeen --- in the volatile region where a majority of the families were displaced during a crackdown by the military to rid the areas of militants.
At the moment, more than 52 students are benefitting from the facility in Shireen Khel.
Arab News had spoken to several top officials and tribal leaders who had said at the time that Prime Minister Imran Khan – staying true to his campaign and electoral promises — had ensured that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were eventually merged with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 
When the bill finally became a law in May this year, it gave residents ample reasons to celebrate. However, today, nearly six months after the merger, several complained that children were being denied their basic right to education, which continues to remain a distant dream.
Tribesmen from the volatile region urged the government to prioritize the education sector, adding that hundreds of children had dropped out of school as they were forced to study under the open skies due to a lack of properly-constructed facilities in the South Waziristan, Bajaur and other tribal districts.
One such example was that of Shereen Khel where nearly 204 children were studying under a tree in Makeen --- a scenic valley once regarded as the epicenter of insurgency and the hometown of former Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan leader, Baitullah Mehsud.
Surrounded by jagged mountains, the Shereen Khel village boasts a population of roughly 2,000 but has no buildings for its school.
Mir Kalam, a tribesman from the area who teaches children voluntarily, said that because of this reason he has been teaching children for the past one year without getting any incentives for his services.
“I teach children voluntarily to create awareness among them and to make them responsible citizens of the country,” Kalam had said.
According to Shoaib Khan, a senior official at the FATA Education Directorate, roughly around 400,000 children are out of school in the tribal areas but plans are being implemented to enroll them.
When contacted Sikandar Hayat Mehsud, a local from the South Waziristan region said that the military in the area acted swiftly after getting wind of the report and ensured the provision of basic facilities for the school, a move which was widely lauded by the local residents.
“This is really extraordinary development when the media points out a problem and the authorities respond. The military move to shift basic facilities to the school which was functioning in open is a sigh of relief for the people who are busy building their lives from scratches because they have just been repatriated after spending years in displacement,” he said.
Mehsud added that he had shared the Arab News article in certain WhatsApp groups, prompting the authorities to get into action. “I’m sure the Arab News that article has great contributions to turn it into a formal educational institution,” Mehsud said.

THE COMPARISON




The condition of the school one week ago, left, and today. (AN photo)




The condition of the school one week ago, left, and today. (AN photo)


Pakistan cruises to 2nd Twenty20 win vs Bangladesh

Updated 25 January 2020

Pakistan cruises to 2nd Twenty20 win vs Bangladesh

  • Babar Azam, who was out for zero on Friday in Pakistan’s five-wicket win, remained not out on 66
  • Bangladesh’s top-order batsmen struggled for the second consecutive day as the side was restricted to 136-6

LAHORE: Captain Babar Azam and recalled Mohammad Hafeez struck unbeaten half centuries as Pakistan cruised to a nine-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the second Twenty20 on Saturday and kept alive its hopes of retaining the No. 1 ranking.
Pakistan could stay top if it completes a 3-0 clean sweep by winning the final Twenty20 of the three-match series on Monday.
Recalled 39-year-old Hafeez made an unbeaten 67 off 49 balls while No. 1-ranked Twenty20 batsman Babar remained not out on 66 as Pakistan eased to 137-1 with more than three overs to spare.
Both batsmen entertained a weekend crowd of around 20,000 at the Qaddafi Stadium with a splendid 131-run stand against a listless Bangladesh bowling attack.
Shafiul Islam was the lone successful bowler when he had Ahsan Ali caught at mid off for a duck in his first over before Babar and Hafeez took charge. Bangladesh’s disappointing performance was summed up when wicketkeeper Liton Das dropped Hafeez soon after he had reached his half century.
Hafeez, who completed his half century with two successive fours off Shafiul in the 13th over, struck nine fours and a six while Babar, who was out for zero on Friday in Pakistan’s five-wicket win, hit seven boundaries and a six.
In the absence of the banned Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, who pulled out of the tour due to security concerns, Bangladesh’s top-order batsmen struggled for the second consecutive day as the side was restricted to 136-6.
Earlier, opening batsman Tamim Iqbal labored for 53 balls on his way to a top score of 65 before he was run out in the 18th over as the Bangladesh innings struggled to build any momentum against the Pakistan pace attack.
The inexperienced pace trio of Mohammad Hasnain (2-20), Shaheen Afridi (1-22) and Haris Rauf (1-27) combined to bowl 12 overs, conceding only 69 runs between them and sharing four wickets.
Captain Mahmudullah, who won his second successive toss, surprisingly didn’t put himself in the top order while another experienced batsman, Soumya Sarkar, came in after the fall of Tamim’s wicket with only 14 balls left in the innings.
Bangladesh will round out the first phase of the Pakistan tour on Monday. The team didn’t want to stay in Pakistan for more than a week due to security concerns.
The tour was only finalized last week when Bangladesh agreed to split the Twenty20 series and the two ICC World Test Championship matches into three phases after the countries’ national cricket boards reached consensus in Dubai during a meeting facilitated by International Cricket Council chairman Shashank Manohar.
Bangladesh will return for the first test in Rawalpindi from Feb. 7-11. After a break of almost two months, Bangladesh will play an ODI and the second test in Karachi on April 3-9.
Late last year, Sri Lanka also split its tour to Pakistan into two phases when it played a Twenty20 series in Lahore and then returned in December for two test matches in Rawalpindi and Karachi, staying in Pakistan for 16 days.