In a village of grinding poverty hope is rekindled

Khairpur: September, 2013: What’s the point of education? This is the question most fathers ask when the project mobilisers come to the villages. But some eagerly grab the opportunity to escape the poverty trap, and Oxfam Novib hopes others will be inspired by their success.

The village of Khabri in Gamabat, Khairpur District is populated by hari (landless farmers) who scrape a living from basic agriculture and livestock activities. It is a village in which most seem to have given up on the hope of a brighter future.

The nearest school is in Khuhra city, almost a kilometer away. But few parents feel it’s worthwhile sending their children. “Even after educating him up to class 10, he is still working in the fields, so what is the point of education?” asked one parent. When the EQUATE team offered Mohammad Din to teach his 15 year old son a trade he said “Should I send him to learn skills or ask him to earn money to help feed his family of 7 including aging parents by managing cattle stock”. It wasn’t really a question. “He has to fulfill his family responsibilities first,” Mohammad continued by way of saying no.

Few in Khabri listened to the local mobilizers who were telling them about the benefits of letting their children learn a trade and break out of the poverty cycle.

One of those who did listen intently, however, was 20 year old Arbab Ali. He had completed 12th grade but had been unable to stay on and go to college, as had been his big hope. Instead he had to stay at home and work in the fields to help keep his family afloat. He had lots of questions for the EQUATE team who told him about the skills and trades they could teach him in the framework of the EU-funded “Enhance quality & access to technical & vocational education employability (EQUATE)” project. Full of what’s, why’s and how’s he soon concluded he could do the course and still satisfy this family’s demand to help with the regular work.

First off Arbab attended Oxfam Novib’s two-months preparatory course, which provides a basic education in everything from maths, technical drawing and English, to labour regulations and how to care for the environment. The aim of these is to ensure that the trainees have a sufficient grasp of the basics and an awareness of how to behave responsibly at home and in the workplace.

After graduating from the Learning Resource Centre at the end of his basic education course, Arbab was already able to speak some basic English, and had a new awareness about his environment, already a step up on what he had learned in school. Happy with what he had learned in those daily three hour sessions, he was very looking forward to transitioning to his electrician’s course.

The EQUATE project hopes that when people like Arbab graduate and start to earn real wages, fewer parents in his village will as the question: “What’s the point in sending them to school”?

Fact Box

Oxfam Novib Project

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 iof 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.

KP, province of Pakistan

“It’s not every day such an opportunity comes along”, he said as he signed up for a course as a general electrician.

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