A farmer’s struggle for education, but will his dreams come true?
Ali Hassan Brohi is a 30 year-old father of five children and a farmer from Dorr, Sindh. Seven years ago, after his matriculation exams, Brohi had to discontinue his education. He didn’t have a choice. His father, the family’s sole breadwinner who died in 2004, had passed away. A year later, his mother passed away too.
The demise of his parents left Brohi’s world destroyed and dreams unfulfilled. The responsibility of taking care of his siblings fell on his shoulders. He secured second position in Hyderabad board of intermediate and secondary education and tried hard to continue his studies but he could no longer afford it. He had to commit himself to working full time to support his family.
According to Brohi,
“I wanted to study but I had no option but to leave the school. After my parents’ sad departure, I was the only breadwinner of my family. Hence, I started farming and worked day and night. I had to look after and feed for my cattle. I had a brother to send to school and a family to feed. I didn’t let the disappointment overcome me. I worked hard because I had decided to resume my education. The credit for this motivation goes to my teacher Sikandar Ali Rind, who helped me go to the college.”
Brohi started working on the eight acres of land as a farmer in Jumma Khan Marri. But Brohi’s thirst for education did not quench. Every night after he returned home from work, he would study for at least one hour.
Brohi got married when he was 20-years-old. Now he has five children, three sons and two daughters. The eldest one is nine-years-old and is in the third grade while the youngest is only a year-old. He regrets not being able to persuade his brother to continue his education, perhaps he had no interest. He said,
“Everyone wants to go to school, except a few people who do not have any interest in studying. But most children don’t have the opportunity to study, because there aren’t any schools, and in every village there are some parents who don’t allow their children to go to school.”
It’s true that there are many like Ali Hassan Brohi. In fact, Pakistan is full of such people.
Many children are deprived from gaining an education, especially girls. According to a report, in rural Sindh, the female literacy rate is just 22 per cent. There are 45,044 primary schools in the province, out of which only 7,283 are girls’ schools.
If the aforementioned statistics don’t make you sad, here are a few more regarding the progress of education in Sindh.
More than 600 schools Sindh are inoperative. Of the remaining that are functional, many have no teachers at all. Some schools only exist on paper. Furthermore – and probably the most preposterous fact – many schools have been turned into cattle farms by the local waderas (landlords).
Despite the increase in the education budget, the Sindh government has failed to provide education to 6.2 million children. The provincial budget dedicated towards the development of educational institutes and legislation amounts to 22 per cent of the total.
Where is all that money going?
A report shows that 23 per cent children aged between five to 16 years in rural areas don’t attend school, while only 15 out of 71 per cent get education till matriculation. Government has set a ratio of one teacher for 40 students but in reality, many schools have a single teacher tutoring more than 400 students. The attitude of the government is criminally casual, but our society and the parents are not any better. We should be doing for more our children.
Ali Hassan Brohi wants to go to university for further education. He wishes every child would go to school. He said,
“The poor have no other way to defeat the waderas. Getting education here is like engaging in war. Therefore, we are in a state of war, in which we may face difficulties, but we shouldn’t be disappointed. I believe that one day I will get to my destination. I want to be a bureaucrat.”
Brohi is right. It is war. He has been able to manage some victories. However, there are children who have been left to fend for themselves. We must not let them become the casualties of battle.
All photos: Manesh Kumar
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