My Visit to Cholistan Desert, Punjab

By Hassan Abdullah Rasool – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

I am an education youth Ambassador and have keen interest in environment and nature of education in distant and remote areas of Pakistan. I belong to one of the remote areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa myself, because of which I can easily understand what problems people living in such areas are faced with.

I am also part of Pakistan boy scouts association, I along with my fellows went for excursion in Cholistan which gave me the opportunity to interact with the people residing there. This visit proved to be an eye opener for me, and showed me a side of education that most of the more privileged Pakistani’s have not seen.

We used to explore different places in the desert each day; we observed small villages, clans, ponds and so many different places and customs. One day we went to a local school. To my imagination, one can’t call it a school, as there was nothing but a hand woven mat lying on hot sand under the scorching sun and I wonder how the children without uniforms were sitting in a fixed line in front of a volunteer teacher, the scorching heat was assurance of the keen interest of students who wanted to acquire knowledge.

But the unfortunate children of who are going to be future of Pakistan one day were sitting in a school, where there were no boundary walls, no proper infrastructure, the sky was blue and the sun was shining, and it made me felt like still in Pakistan there are places about which we can shamefully say that we are still living in stone age. We all friends pledged that we will come here daily and will interact with the school children. Despite all the miseries the children whom I interacted with were well versed in English, which is considered a foreign language in most of our country. The children were good at rote learning method (as off course, this was the only possible solution that how we can study), the children knew basics of science and math as well. I was disheartened, by all this how these little stars will go in vain.

And to add in to my agony, there was only one teacher, who used to travel 12km daily from a small town nearby, a volunteer yet more enthusiastic than many of the teachers who are handsomely paid.
Their teacher added that these children are keen learners; the only thing he was worried about was about opportunities which they were deprived of. He added that they didn’t have any kind of exposure, they were ignorant about the world outside their village because of which their elders don’t think it’s wise to ‘waste’ their money on education and there is no such platform to educate their elders about the significance of education. All they get is primary education and then take care of their animals and that’s it. They don’t know that how education can pay them back one day.

As an education youth ambassador I want to advocate, I want to bring attention of the stake holders that these smiling faces, sparkling eyes, bright minds need our attention, it is our duty to provide them with at least some semblance of a proper school.