Success Stories

Outcomes to date

  • The results of the pilot MLE schools in the Gawri community in the two annual examinations show that many children obtained good marks. Some of them even got more than 90% marks. The tests were based on a comprehension component, as a focus on meaning and a focus on accuracy go hand-in-hand in the MLE schools (as opposed to rote memorisation, which is common in the government schools). The result of some of the students was poor, because they had migrated for a longer time with their families to the plain areas.
  • The students’ reading abilities turned out to be excellent. We believe this is due in a major part to the mother tongue-based education approach, where they learn reading and writing in their own language first.
  • In 2012 a survey was carried out in three villages in the Kalam area. It showed that in these villages only 25.2 percent out of 2,933 people have got some education. The female education rate was much lower than the male education rate, i.e. 11.1 percent versus 34.6 percent. In one of the villages the female education rate was as low as 2.4 percent. The survey covered 85 percent of the houses in these three villages.
  • Our longer-term goal is to open at least one MLE school in every Gawri-speaking village in the districts of Swat and Upper Dir, and to see the students coming out of these schools enter the mainstream education system with a much better foundation than they would have had without this mother-tongue programme.
  • In Winter 2015, we started a pilot project of adult mother-tongue literacy in the community, running classes for both women and men.
  • When we asked some of the children from the first group of MLE pilot schools, they all told us that they liked their school and preferred it over public and private ones. The reason they gave was that the content was in their own language and according to their culture. Teaching and activities also revolve around their daily life, so it is easy for them to understand and they like to share what they learn with their parents and siblings at home. Their parents also like the contents and sometimes share it with other community members. One of our staff members witnessed one of his nieces telling the stories that she learnt at school to her mother and other family members, and all of them laughed and enjoyed them.
  • Shakir Ali was a 6-year-old student in one of our MLE schools, admitted in 2008. He had never attended any school before. One day, he was sitting with his elder brother and father and started to read the headlines of the (Urdu) newspaper which his father was reading. This surprised his father as the older brother who is in class 7 at a government school was still not able to read a newspaper. Instead Shakir Ali got this courage, understanding and comprehension from the mother tongue-based school, while his brother started school in an unfamiliar language.

Impact on women

  • Through conducting a literacy survey in 2005, we found that the majority of adults would like to start an education programme.
  • In July 2010, when GCDP conducted another survey, many of the women requested us to start adult mother-tongue literacy programmes for them. In the winter of 2015, the first pilot class for women became a reality.
  • In Kalam, the children cannot get help from their parents regarding school work. In most cases both parents are uneducated. Those fathers who are educated are mostly busy with their jobs and cannot give proper attention to their children. As mentioned before, we have started adult literacy programmes in the Kalam valley, including for women, so they can learn to read and write in their own language and in turn help their children at home. Although in indigenous communities the workload for women and girls is very heavy, educated women will always set aside time to instruct or help their children and other members of the community.
  • In our MLE schools, the majority of students are girls. The teachers report that the parents, especially mothers, come and request the teachers to admit their daughters in school. One of the reasons is our materials which are much easier to understand. Another reason is the non-availability of government schools for girls in most of these remote villages.
  • It was a challenge for us to hire female teachers and enroll girls in the schools through periods of intensified extremist activities; but with the help and support of the community and parents, especially the mothers, we managed to keep the schools running, they are becoming more popular day by day in the whole community.