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Afghan Children Make a Difficult Journey into Pakistan for School

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Download  Torkham Gate is the main border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It is located in the Khyber Pass area of the Hindu Kush mountain range.

Hundreds of US military and NATO trucks pass through it every day.

So do hundreds of Afghan students.

They make the crossing on six days a week to study in private schools in Pakistan.

They believe they can get a better education in Pakistan but they don’t have visas and are vulnerable to abuse from border police.

Our reporter Mudassar Shah also became the target when he tried to stop a beating of one of the boys.

His story begins in the morning as Torkham Gate opens.


It’s 7am. Many travelers from both Pakistan and Afghanistan cross the border as soon as the gate opens.

Amongst them is 15 year old Barakat Khan. 

He is an Afghan student on his way to school in Pakistan.  

He is disabled. Polio damaged his left hand and right leg when he was only two years old.

Sometimes crossing the Torkham Gate is difficult but today he’s not stopped for long.

Barakat’s father is a shop keeper in Afghanistan.

“My younger brothers study in Afghanistan but my father felt sorry for me because I am disabled. My father suggested I study in Pakistan to get a good education and then work in an office as I can’t do anything respectable for a living. I work hard and get 3rd or 4th position in the class.”

Barakat Khan makes it to school late.

He arrives as students are singing the school Anthem.

There are about 700 students in this school. 500 of them are from Afghanistan.

The school is known as Pak-Afghan Public School.

Before starting their studies, students loudly shout ‘Long Live Pak Afghan Friendship’.

15 year old Imran Khan from Afghanistan is late as well.

The border police made him wait a long time before allowing him to cross.

He works as a porter after school to earn money to pay for his education.

“I earn sometimes 50 cents and sometimes one dollar. I came here only because there is no good school in my village. There are good subjects here to study while back in my village, we have only Pashtu and Dari to read. I want to help my people and want to save them from trouble.”

It’s break time at the Pak-Afghan school.  

There are only 15 female students at the school. Five of them are from Afghanistan.

During the break they stay in the classrooms while the boys play.

Culturally, girls are restricted to the four walls of their homes, while in the school; the girls are restricted to the classroom only.

Principal Abdul Raziq would rather they were not here at all.

“The situation is bad for girls’ education at the moment. Any school could be blown up at anytime. Many girls’ schools have been blown up recently, therefore I am afraid too.”

Seven-year-old Rashmina is standing at the back of the classroom. She is very shy about speaking in front of the boys.

“My father cannot afford my school fees but I am very good at learning and my teachers are better than before. If I were rich I would have studied in Peshawar and would become a doctor. My parents would definitely have no objections about my education.”

It is 11 O’clock in the morning and back at the Torkham Gate, 10 year old Askar khan is carrying luggage.

He is in his school uniform.

“I did not go to school today because my teachers asked me for my monthly school fee and I did not have money to pay it. Therefore, I came to work as a porter today to earn my fee. My father is old and cannot afford my school fees.”

He is carrying cloth and hammers for an Afghan traveler.

Security personnell have stopped Askar and made him wait for the last few hours.

“Turn back and do not cross this gate,” he shouts at the boy.

He openly demands a bribe from Askar.

“Now they stopped me and do not allow me to cross the gate. I will not be able to get money this time. Sometimes, they beat me when I come to bring luggage. They beat me several times, not once.”

Next to Askar Khan, 8-year-old Shafi Ullah Khan carries a small sack of shampoos and soaps on his back.

He is the next target of the security personnel.

I ask them not to beat him and he starts beating me instead and puts me in custody for several hours.

Young children are ready and working hard to get education but barriers are put in front of them.

B/A Mudassar was held for two hours before being released on the condition that he ask permission before recording anything at the border gate.


Questions :

1. Why do hundreds of Afghan students go to Pakistan six days a week?
2. Where is the main crossin between Afghanistan and Pakistan?
3. How manya students to to the Pak-Afghan Public School and how many of them are girls?
4. Why is their journey to the school dangerous?
5. What do some of the children do to pay for their education?  


Vocabulary :

1) mountain range : pergunungan 

2) vulnerable : mudah diserang

3) abuse : penganiyaan atau perlakuan kasar yang kasar

4) restricted  : dibatasi

5) luggage : bagasi, barang-barang

6) porter : barang bawaan

7) custody : tahanan, penjagaan

8) released : dibebaskan

9) bribe : suap

10) condition : syarat


آخری تازہ کاری ( منگل, 22 جون 2010 16:38 )