Girl swaps dowry for crack at village internet centre

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Khairpur: November 2014: Girls from poor villages are doing computer courses. And persuading their parents that this might make more sense than traditional destinies.

Nabila is from Gagri, a village of about 5000 people in Sindh. It’s a rural village, where most of the young people work in agriculture or daily labour. But Nabila is doing something quite different: She’s learning to work with computers.

Nabila’s mom has bought a buffalo for her dowry. But the 17-year old has taken a course in computer science. Normally the course would have cost 5,000 rupees a month, way beyond the possibilities of someone from her village. But thanks to the EU-funded EQUATE project, she has been able to attend the four-month course, and get transport to and from the class, for free.

And such is her enthusiasm that she has resolved to sell the buffalo her mother has bought as her dowry, and to invest in a computer centre in her village instead. Her mother was very unhappy at first. But now she’s been won around to the idea. Nabila will teach computer skills, just like she has been learning in the centre.

And judging by the kids who crowd around computers in the markets of Khairpur, undoubtedly there would soon be demand too from the village teenagers to play computer games or watch videos.

Nabila reckons she will get 80,000 rupees for her buffalo. That would buy her 4 computers. She would also need to pay at least 1,000 rupees a month for internet. So it’s no minor investment.

But she’s not the only one in her class who has been inspired to make computers part of her life. 16 year-old Zara from Tando Shah, a village of 200 households 30 km from Khairpur, has similar hopes. It is more acceptable for the young girls to work from home than to travel away from villages to work. Zara has no buffalo, however, and although her father is supportive, the well operator is unlikely ever to afford the investment necessary for this.

Uzma form Mithri feels her village also wants a centre, but she personally is more interested in using the course to get a job. Ideally she would like to get a job in a hospital because there is plenty of demand for computer operators in hospitals. The work is secure and the income, at 20.000 – 25.000 rupees for a starting salary. That’s money her father could only dream of.

Fact Box

Project:
Oxfam Novib Project

Name:
EQUATE – Enhancing Quality and Access to Technical and Vocational Education

Contributions and Aim:
Oxfam Novib with co-financing of European Union and in partnership with Research and Development Foundation, Indus Resource Centre and Butterfly Works is implementing the EQUATE project in three districts of Sindh province in Pakistan, namely. Khairpur, Dadu and Jamshoro. The project aims to equip 3200 poor youth with marketable skills and thereby improve their livelihoods. It also help 1600 craftswomen produce items for new brand Kahani in partnership with national and international designers.

Location:
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa




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