Pakistan: AAR Japan Builds Libraries for Primary Schools in Border Area

 “Reading books and playing sports, we’re enjoying school!”

The new libraries have enabled access to a wide range of books. Children are diligently reading books. (February 6th, 2013)
In Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, where AAR Japan has been carrying out assistance, there are many refugees from Afghanistan and internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have fled from conflicts in Pakistan. Since 2011, AAR Japan has been supporting 16 primary schools in the province by constructing or renovating classrooms and toilets, installing water supply facilities, and donating desks and chairs.

In response to the wishes of the teachers to provide education that would nurture children’s spirit and encourage them to pursue their dreams despite the region’s uncertain security situation, AAR Japan built a library at each of the 16 schools and provided sports equipment in 2012.

Each library has 330 books including study aids for English and science, dictionaries, history books, folk and fairy tales of the world, as well as other learning materials such as terrestrial globes and puzzles. These materials were provided based on a questionnaire survey of the teachers. The libraries have not only books in Urdu,  national language of Pakistan, but also books written in  Pashto language, one of the official language of Afghanistan, for Afghan refugee children. When there was no library, what the children read were the Koran and text books, but now the children are enjoying reading a variety of books in their brand new library. “We didn’t have many fun things to do during recess before, but now I spend most of the time reading books,” Abdullah Khan, a 5th grade boy, told us.

Students who used to study sitting on the corridor. “We love the new library because it has colorful desks and chairs!” (February 6th, 2013)

 “My favorite is adventure stories like the Jungle Book,” Abdullah Khan told us. (February 6th, 2013) 

Children also love the sports equipment that AAR Japan donated to the schools. They are all having fun playing various kinds of sports including cricket, a popular sport in Pakistan, ball games such as volley ball and football, jump rope, and badminton.

Jump ropes that AAR Japan donated are popular among girls. (January 31st, 2013)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, an area that AAR Japan has supported, is home to more than 140,000 Pakistani IDPs who have fled from long-standing domestic conflicts and refugees from Afghanistan. AAR Japan is planning to extend its support to 13 more schools over the coming year.

We interviewed children who attend the schools that AAR Japan supports.

<Questions to children>
1. What do you think about your new library?
2. What kind of books do you like?
3. Any changes since the new library opened?
4. Do you like other learning materials?
5. How do you like your classrooms and chairs?
6. Do you use sports equipment?
7. What do you want to become in the future?
8. Any comments for the Japanese people?

Khalil Ur Rehman (age 12), a 5th grade at GPS (Government Primary School) Mohail Banda Chail

Khalil Ur Rehman (right) being interviewed in a new library. (February 6th, 2013) 

1. It’s a very good place to study. I’m glad that there are also many books that I can learn from, not only fun books.
2. I like story books and math workbooks. Among story books, I especially like Neelam, a tale about fairies.
3. I can now read many interesting books. I’ve come to like reading more than ever.
4. I like puzzles because I have to really use my head.
5. We used to take classes sitting on the ground outside even in the rainy season or the hot summer, but I’m very glad that we can now learn in a comfortable environment.
6. Yes, a lot. It’s so fun! I especially like playing cricket, football and volley ball. Lately I’m trying sports that I’ve not known before, as we’ve received various kinds of sport equipment.
7. I want to be a doctor.
8. Thank you for your big support and the new school!

Faiza (age 9), a 3rd grader at GGPS (Government Girls Primary School) Rahimullar Korona

“I like Cinderella, and books on Islam, too,” says Faiza. (February 17th, 2013)

1. I’m glad there are colorful desks and chairs.
2. My favorite is storybooks like Cinderella and wizard stories. I like a book on Islam, which is titled “Good Habits of Prophet Muhammad.”
3. I didn’t have a lot to do during recess before, but I’ve come to read books since the library was built.
4. I like puzzles and alphabet blocks because I can learn as I enjoy playing with them.
5. Very beautiful! We used to study sitting on the corridor as we endured the scorching summer heat or the icy winter cold. But now we can learn in new classrooms sitting at desks.
6. Yes, I love them! My favorites are jump rope and badminton. I’m glad that we can enjoy many kinds of sports activities.
7. I want to be a doctor.
8. Thank you for so much support for us!

This project has been made possible through your generous donations and grants from Japan Platform (JPF).

 Tomohiko MORITA, AAR Japan Pakistan Office

After graduating from graduate school, he worked for a private company and then moved to Zimbabwe to work at Japan’s Embassy for two years as a temporary staff. He joined AAR Japan Tokyo Office in May 2012 and engaged in projects in Kenya. He has been based in the Pakistan Office since December 2012.