Until less than a year ago, Sakina Bibi and Zabihullah, still in the early years of childhood, spent their days running household errands — a sharp contrast to the carefree lives led by most children of school-going age. Sakina spent her days helping her mother fetch water from as far as ten kilometres away — the only fresh water source located near their house, while Zabihullah helped his father take the animals for grazing to nearby pastures.

While education is considered a necessity for some, it remains an often-overlooked luxury for others. This was especially true for most households in village Killi Sultan Shah, a remote village located some forty kilometres away from Noshki district in Balochistan province. The only primary school situated close to the village was staffed with one teacher who taught students throughout their primary years, from grade 1 to grade 5, and travelled approximately thirty kilometres each day to get to the school. The school building was woefully run-down, and water and sanitation facilities were inadequate. The damage to the school building was grave to the extent where it lacked even a proper shelter, forcing students to sit and study outside in a battered hut made of reed. To add to the worries of the locals, the school which was surrounded by a desert on all sides was exposed to sandstorms and strong desert winds, often causing the small hut to topple over. The school children found it particularly challenging to attend their classes on such occasions, which recurrently led to classes being dismissed. All these factors contributed to the dwindling rate of school enrollment in the area.

 

“The school wasn’t in good condition before. Sometimes, we used to arrive at the school after a long walk, only to find out that the classes had been dismissed. Furthermore, unavailability of water and sanitation facilities made it difficult for us to spend our entire day here. Eventually, I gave up school and started helping my mother with household chores instead,” said Sakina Bibi standing next to her brother Zabihullah, who had similar concerns about the condition of the school building.

In 2018, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported the rehabilitation of Primary School building in village Killi Sultan Shah. The rehabilitation work was completed in eight months to provide an opportunity to the residents of the village to send their children to school. With a proper building in place, inclement weather did not necessarily cause classes to be dismissed, and children too enjoyed going to school. Safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities were also provided which significantly improved the health and well-being of the school children. Equipped with new furniture, and with a supply of school uniforms and course books, the classroom environment became much more conducive — generating a notable increase in school enrollment. 

 

 

“I enjoy coming to school now that the school building has been constructed. My mother also wants me to get a good quality education,” said Sakina. “When I have completed my education, I will work to ensure a good future for my family,” she added gleefully.

 

 

Once the renovation work had been completed, village locals pooled resources to buy a motorcycle for the school teacher to make it easier for him to travel the distance from his house to the primary school each day. The village residents were hopeful for a better future for their children.

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