By Musa Khan.
My mother: Saeeda (cousin of my mother and a women of her age) told me that they are shifting to Kamra.
Me: So? I already know this.
My mother: She says she will get admission into vocational school; there is one in Kamra.
Me: Do you still, being 48 years old, want to get educated?
My mother: Yes, I do. I wish there were one (vocational school) in our home town too.
Me: But we are all educated. All of your son and daughters.
My mother: But I am not, I love to and it is my dream to get educated since my childhood. Now that I know, my age has passed, yet I wish to learn at least to to read and write.
This was not for the first time my mother and I had a conversation about her education. While in childhood she was admitted by her maternal uncle in a school along with her daughter, and she attended it for one month; she says. But when it came to the knowledge of my grand father, he restricted her not to go to school. That was the time her dreams to get educated remained unfulfilled. She says that the reason my grandfather put for this restriction was that women need no education, and that, it is against their customs.
We are all educated in our home save for my mother. My father is a well learned man and has degree in M.A Pushto. My eldest sister is M.Sc Chemistry; my elder brother and I, engineers; and our younger brother is studying in the third year of MBBS. Another two of my sisters and one brother are studying yet in school. Though our education is a matter of happiness and pride for my mother, yet it has put her into problems too. Let me enumerate her problems, caused by not being educated, one by one.
First, she could not distinguish between a paper of quality and that a rubbish. While cleansing the home, she collects and keep safe every piece of paper, even though it is not worth being kept safe. For instance, once she kept safe, a receipt of a sweater my brother bought a month back; confusing it with the fee ‘chalaan’ for my FPSC test. I always find some irrelevant papers, such as receipts of shopping in my books, being kept for safety. Once I was reading my notes and I was astonished seeing my younger brother written application which he wrote as an assignment in the notes. Would it not be better if my mother was educated enough to manage our books and documents, and the office files of my father?
Second, she sometimes feels alien in our company, when we all were talking about news stuff or some other thing beyond her understanding. She dislikes it, and for her, we sometimes stop our debates in the middle. Would it not have been better if she could also understand the news and had a study of everything. So that she could also enjoy our talks; add her views as well to the conversation?
Third, there is a difference of taste between ours and hers regarding TV channels. She prefers Pushto channels while my father has a great appetite to watch BBC and other news channels. We have witnessed many fights over the remote control between them in which often my father stands victor. Here too, she is the one that sacrifices.
She says that if she was allowed by her father to attend school, she would have become a doctor. Her confidence in herself speaks volumes about her self-confidence; which is the only reason needed for being successful in a mission provided that one has desire to achieve the mission. I think, our nation has lost a female doctor, in the name of so called honour, which our nation needs.
Unfortunately the female literacy rate in our country is just 45 percent. The government allocated only 2.3 percent of GDP to education, where in Malaysia and other developing countries education has been allocated 8-10 percent GDP share.
Islam as a religion declared education mandatory for all human beings. In a Hadith a learned person has given priority over an unlearned person. In another Hadith we see Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) praising both of the groups (One involved in Dhikar and the other learning) and then joining the one involved in learning. In Quran Allah (The Almighty) time and again orders the Mumineen to ‘Think’. In fact the very first verse revealed is ‘Read’. In the light of all this we see that for others education may be a worldly matter only, but for Muslims it is a divine duty, and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him); and women are Muslims as well.
By educating women we educate not only an individual but a family. If a women is educated then her whole family gets its benefit. She could learn about many things and then enlighten her sons and daughters at home.
Women education is a must. This is high time we shunned the foul customs. Our country need to frame laws and implement them in letter and spirit for the education of this underprivileged class (girls) of our society.
The writer is a candidate to CSS and PMS and studies at NOVA, CSS Academy Islamabad. He has keen interest in philosophy, human rights and reformation of Pushtun belt through education and awareness.