Ten years ago, the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa launched several awareness initiatives in the Mohmand tribal territory to encourage parents to send their daughters to school.
Unfortunately, despite incentives like providing food packages to families for each girl enrolled in school, these initiatives were not very successful due to tribal traditions and customs, which proved to be substantial impediments.
During that period, tribal elders and religious scholars were instrumental in discouraging girls from attending school. However, in a significant shift, tribesmen are now protesting in the streets against the dearth of teachers, appropriate school buildings, and necessary facilities in girls’ schools.
To guarantee that their girls receive a high-quality education, they specifically want more female instructors sent to Mohmand’s outlying areas. Unfortunately, the government has not been able to properly fulfill these demands.
Due to these difficult circumstances, female students have taken to staging demonstrations outside of their educational institutions in order to draw attention to the shortage of teachers. Their major means of communication has shifted to social media, where they post videos and photos that are then picked up by mainstream media.
Despite the region’s wealth in minerals and agricultural opportunities, the Otman Khel sub-clan of Mohmands faces challenges in Tehsil Ambar of Mohmand district, which has 62,109 residents as of the 2017 census. Locals often complain about the lack of facilities, especially the lack of female teachers.
A citizen named Luqman bemoaned the fact that there were only two schools in the entire tehsil—primary and middle—and that the teachers frequently disregarded their duties.
When attempts to include district administration and school officials were unsuccessful, a social media-documented grassroots protest resulted.
The media took notice of this and the education administration was forced to quickly employ two female teachers.
Although tribal Jirgas used to fiercely reject girls’ education, current occurrences suggest that their views are changing.
A Jirga in the village of Shah Baig, Tehsil Hamlimzai, voiced serious concerns about the lack of educational facilities in twelve villages, pointing out the government’s inability to comply with repeated requests. The elders also mentioned the absence of local girls’ schools, highlighting the urgent need for educational facilities.
Parents lamented that teachers hired locally are occasionally relocated elsewhere due to the influence of important individuals. The shortage of instructors remains a big issue in Safi’s Shawa Farsh, where there is only one teacher for every 200 girls.
Zubaida Khattak, the district education officer for Mohmand, recognised the lack of female teachers and pledged to solve the issue.
The harsh truth is that most people’s lives have not improved despite the availability of natural resources and an agricultural base.
As a moving example of the changing dynamics in the region, tribesmen who had previously led the charge against girls’ education are now demanding more educational opportunities for their daughters. Rather than focusing on persuading parents to send their daughters to school, they are now addressing systemic issues such as inadequate facilities and teacher shortages.