A Born Leader Paves the Way for Girls’ Education in Pakistan

By Global Fund for Children | July 16, 2018 | South Asia | Education, Gender Equity

Inspired by his sister, a young boy and his friends took it upon themselves to transform the future of education in their village.

GRACE Association / Islamabad, Pakistan

From the time Khadim Hussain was a small child, his determination was evident.

Growing up in a remote mountainous village in Pakistan, he contracted polio at the age of one, losing all function in his lower limbs. Believing, like many in their community, that disability was a punishment from God, Khadim’s parents did not want their son to go to school.

But Khadim was resolved to get an education. So his friends pushed him to school in a wheelbarrow, traveling six kilometers every day.

One day, Khadim’s youngest sister, Zubeda, asked him to teach her to write the Urdu alphabet. Their parents immediately forbade it, saying it went against Islamic faith for girls to read school books.

Within weeks, Khadim and his friends hatched a plan to improve education in their village. The children started out by going door to door, urging parents to send their boys to school (at that time, no girls’ school existed). By the end of the year, 40 more boys had enrolled.

 

Next, Khadim found an adult in his village who could read and write, and asked if he would be willing to start teaching girls. Khadim and his friends promised to pay the teacher out of their own pocket money.

The village’s first school for girls was born. Within a year, 22 girls—including Zubeda—were attending class.

Over the next several years, Khadim rallied support for girls’ education in his village—raising awareness of the importance of education and working to change the hearts and minds of the village elders, who remained resistant. He convinced his father to donate land for a school building and found a donor willing to fund the construction.

With Khadim’s encouragement and support, Zubeda continued her education. Today, she is a teacher in her village school.

On a visit to a girls' school in Skardu, Khadim discusses academic and school development challenges with the principal and 8th grade students.

Khadim is the founder of GRACE Association, a Global Fund for Children grassroots partner that works to ensure that all children—particularly girls and children with disabilities—have access to high-quality education.

Last year, in addition to offering teacher trainings and helping to strengthen schools in low-income communities, GRACE supported the education of more than 900 children.

All photos © GRACE Association

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