Makeshift school gives second chance to Peshawar slum children

Ayesha, 10, used to beg but now, after school, she sells flowers on the roads of Peshawar. Photo taken on Jan. 14, 2020. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
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Updated 18 January 2020

Makeshift school gives second chance to Peshawar slum children

  • 273 children are registered at Dosti’s eight mobile schools in Peshawar
  • The organization also offers business assistance to parents

PESHAWAR: “When I don’t want to go to the workshop, I sometimes go begging,” says 11-year-old Shahid, who works at a car repair shop in Peshawar. He must earn to support his parents and could not come to school. But everything changed last year when school came to him.

Ayesha leaves her home in a slum area of Peshawar to attend Dosti's mobile school class on Jan. 14, 2020. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

“Life is hard for me, but this school has changed it. Now I am able to write my name in English and in Urdu!” the boy told Arab News.

Eleven-year-old Shahid supports his family by working at a car repair shop. Photo taken on Jan. 14, 2020. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

The school is run by Dosti, a welfare organization funded in 1996 by Dr. Munir Ahmad, which last year launched a mobile school initiative to reach children like Shahid in the slum areas of Peshawar, who otherwise would be left without any access to education.

A mobile school van with teaching materials and teachers arrives for classes in the slum areas of Peshawar on Jan. 14, 2020. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

Dosti teachers arrive in a van and on motorbikes, bringing teaching materials and equipment. Currently, 273 children are registered at Dosti’s eight makeshift schools and more than half of them attend classes regularly.

The initiative has received significant support from university students, and nearly 2,400 of them volunteer for the program as teachers. Local authorities have also signed an agreement with Dosti to expand its reach.

Peshawar University students volunteer to teach children at one of the eight mobile schools run in the city. Photo taken on Jan. 14, 2020. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

To break the cycle of poverty and prevent its pupils from dropping out, the organization has also introduced a small business assistance program to the children’s parents.

Students are waiting for their class to start. Photo taken on Jan. 14, 2020. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

“I love this school,” says 10-year-old Ayesha, who sells flowers on the city’s roads.

“I love animals and the school teacher has taught me their names and showed their pictures. When I came to this school one year ago, I didn’t even know how to hold a pencil, but now I can do wonders.”

A boy is learning to spell his name in English at Dosti mobile school class on Jan. 14, 2020. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)


Pakistan’s new shipping policy to reduce $5 bln freight bill through localization of vessels

Updated 25 min 54 sec ago

Pakistan’s new shipping policy to reduce $5 bln freight bill through localization of vessels

  • The policy offers tax incentives, low-cost financing to revive the country’s shipping industry
  • Private companies demand open competition for import of petroleum cargo instead of monopolizing it through state-owned corporation

KARACHI: Pakistan’s new shipping policy aims to reduce $5 billion freight bill that the country pays to foreign companies to transport import and export cargoes, officials announced on Friday. 

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi and Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood unveiled the amended shipping policy in Islamabad that offers incentives to the country’s own vessels by provided them “priority berthing at all Pakistani ports.” 

“This is business-friendly policy,” Zaidi said, adding that it would reduce the freight bill Pakistan paid annually. 

The country nationalized its industries in the 1970s, including the shipping industry by merging all companies with the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC). Experts believe that the industry could not be revived after that policy decision. 

“This industry is vital since it operates during emergencies and high risk situation as well as peace time. As we rely on international shipping lines for our trade, we lose foreign exchange which can be saved if we develop our own local shipping industry,” said Zaidi. “It is the need of the hour to revive this industry since we lag way behind our regional competitors like Bangladesh.” 

Abdul Razak Dawood, Pakistan’s de facto commerce minister, hoped that local entrepreneurs would view this as an opportunity and benefit from it. 

“The State Bank of Pakistan will extend loans at three percent markup rate for buying vessels and registering them in the country,” Mahmood Maulvi, adviser to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, told Arab News. “Refinance will be allowed for purchase of ships and vessels.” 

Under the policy, new shipping companies would be exempted from federal taxes until 2030. 

“No federal taxes (direct and indirect) shall be levied to the detriment of Pakistan Resident Ship Owning companies during the exemption period,” the policy document seen by Arab News read. 

However, the transportation of hydrocarbon cargoes will be the sole responsibility of PNSC. 

The shipping sector stakeholders termed the policy as a “good initiative” and called for its implementation in letter and spirit. 

“It is good that the government has realized that Pakistan pays $5 billion of freight bill to foreign shipping companies,” Aasim Siddiqui, chairman of All Pakistan Shipping Association (APSA) told Arab News. “Our association has been lobbying for the last three years for incentives to be given to private sector since we have the potential to create more employment opportunities by attracting the cargo that is transported by foreign vessels.” 

“But it is not enough to release a focused policy,” he continued. “We also need a robust legal framework for its implementation since an oversight of these incentives is also needed. Besides, it is very important to monitor the policy in consultation with the stakeholders.” 

He demanded that instead of monopolizing the import of petroleum products through the PNSC, the government should invite bids from the private sector. 

“Maybe private companies can give you better rates than the PNSC,” he added.