“I am honored to be the first female teacher in Basho Valley, where I was born and raised. Now that girls in my village are continuing their education for the first time through middle and high school, I can provide them with the mentorship and support they need.
However, it was challenging being the only female teacher in the village. It was not comfortable for me to join the men in the school office. I asked the Iqra Fund team if we could hire another woman to work as an assistant teacher with me, and they agreed. We are creating a new normal in our region. It is new for girls to go to school, and new for women to have public jobs. But we are creating these new changes with full support from the community, and through the trust and support from the Iqra Fund partnership.”de sure my father had a basic education, and he wanted it for his granddaughters."
“Our mothers now recognize that we can be the ones to change the future for our village. They made great sacrifices to support our education, and that inspires us to work that much harder. We want future generations to not struggle to support our families like our mothers have.”
This year Iqra Fund students Rashida and Zulikha earned some of the highest scores in the nation’s high stakes high school annual exams. Rashida placed first while Zulikha scored fourth highest overall. They competed against 1,427 students (boys and girls) from 14 well-established government high schools throughout Shigar District. Of the 1,427 students taking the exam that day - all of them enrolled in well-established government high schools in the Shigar District.
Iqra Fund celebrates a 100% success rate for our middle and high school students. This is a big deal in a country where only 13% of girls remain enrolled in school by the 9th grade. And it’s an even bigger deal considering the obstacles they’ve had to overcome as the first generation of girls from their valley to go to school at all.
“When I was a child, my grandfather would go from house to house trying to convince parents to send their children to school. He never went to school, but he made sure my father had a basic education, and he wanted it for his granddaughters.
We finally needed to leave Hushe so that I could go to school, so we shifted to Skardu when I was in 3rd grade. Then Iqra Fund came and started a school in Hushe and provided me with support so that I could complete my education through high school.
My little sisters are still students of Iqra Fund.My little sister and I are the youngest girls to climb 6,000 meter peaks in Pakistan. My grandfather and father supported my dreams and told me to not pay attention to all the men who said girls and women shouldn’t climb.
Without an education, I wouldn’t have the skills or strength to climb. What I’ve learned in school applies to climbing and life: good decision-making, problem solving, and communicating well. I’m studying now in Lahore to be a guide and to start the first female-owned guiding company in Baltistan. I see this as my future, and it effects every girls’ future from my region.”
Iqra Fund provides special assistance to students and families in need. Some students need special support to continue learning in the classroom. This year alone, polio has confined one student to a wheelchair, and has also kept one mother at home needing regular care. For these special cases, Iqra Fund provides financial assistance to families so their children are able to attend school.
Here is 7-year old Laila from Doghoro Village, one of Iqra Fund’s exceptional students receiving support. Laila lost her hearing when she was a small child. Her family learned basic sign language to communicate with Laila, and she attended first grade every day with the hopes of becoming a high achieving student.
With limited to zero access to health care, students like Laila would never have the chance to see a doctor for an evaluation. Through an Iqra Fund scholarship, Laila was able to see a specialist and learned that she is a candidate for a cochlear implant.o send their children to school. He never went to school, but he made sure my father had a basic education, and he wanted it for his granddaughters.
“Life here is very rough and tough. In the past when I was young, there was tremendous food deprivation. Education was almost non-existent. If a letter arrived, there was no one here who could read it. Slowly with time, our life standard has changed. But not as much as we had hoped.
I would go door to door to convince families to send their children to school. For most families, they could only afford to send their sons. But now parents see the value of education, and through the partnership with Iqra Fund, we have been able to enroll 100% of the girls and boys from our village to go to school. Now, with Iqra Fund scholarships, many of our girls are completing high school and going on to university.
We have our first female teachers returning totheir home village, some with masters degrees. We are seeing change happen morequickly now, with the health and economic opportunities increasing.”
“The Iqra Fund scholarship completely changed my life, by supporting my master’s degree, living expenses, and the expenses of my family; this allowed me to leave my job and focus on my education. I am incredibly grateful for this. My personal hopes about my future have also completely changed. Prior to the scholarship, I presumed that I would ultimately work in a government job in Muzaffarabad and support my family similar to when my father was alive.
Now I have been offered an opportunity of a lifetime and allowed me to pursue my passion. The scholarship has also helped me in all aspects of my life such as giving me the opportunity to refine my English language skills and improve my qualification and standard of living.”