The recent earthquake in South Asia which has killed thousands and laid waste to the regional infrastructure could end up benefiting the area madrassa system. With so many government schools having been destroyed, localities may need to take the initiative in order to educate their own children. Able and more than willing are the local madrassas, from Rediff.com:
The destruction of the education infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and some parts of the North west Frontier Province due to the October 8 earthquake may force parents to enroll their children in madrassas run by jIhadi groups.
The earthquake has flattened all schools in the region. Bagh district, 100 km from Muzaffarabad, had 341 schools including a degree college for a population of 500,000 people. Muzaffarabad had 1,512 schools for a population of 900,000 people.
Thousands of students face an uncertain future and may lose the academic year if their schools are not rebuilt. The Pakistan government has expressed its inability to restore the infrastructure in the immediate future. Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has said that reconstruction and rehabilitation of the quake-hit areas would take decades.
“The Bagh Degree College was the best in the region. It took us decades to build it. And now it is going to take us decades to restore it. You know how difficult it is to develop infrastructure in this country,” says Sajid Iqbal, a teacher at the college. He is mourning the death of more than 700 students — still buried in the college’s wreckage.
“I have enough food. What I really need is education. I don’t want to lose my academic year. I want to be in school as soon as possible,” says Shahid, an eighth grade student in Bagh.
“Bagh was already short of schools. The government will take years to reconstruct the destroyed schools. Only Allah knows what will happen to our children,” says Aslam Manzoor, whose daughter is in the 10th grade.
Zafarul Haq Kiani, a 46-year-old engineer employed by the public health division in Bagh, plans to migrate to Rawalpindi if the schools are not opened soon.
“If the schools are not reconstructed immediately or no alternative is provided promptly, then the children will lose interest in studies,” says Muzaffar Khan, a social worker in Bagh.
And the fear is they might be lured by jihadi groups.
Since, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is a disputed territory, it is the hub of jihadis. Almost all the buildings in the province display a slogan prominently — ‘Kashmir will become Pakistan through jihad!’