“QUETTA, 29 November 2011 (IRIN) – Gehava Bibi, 9, is very excited. She is visiting the city of Quetta, capital of the southwestern province of Balochistan, with her father to buy some basic school supplies. She has never held a pencil or piece of chalk. “This seems like magic,” she told IRIN as she awkwardly drew a few squiggly lines across a piece of paper offered to her by the shop-owner.
Bibi has never been to school; there is no educational facility in her village in the Bolan district, some 154km southeast of Quetta, and like 90 percent of women in rural Balochistan, according to official figures, she is illiterate.
However, recently, an elderly villager, who had spent many years in the southern port city of Karachi, has returned to Bolan and offered to provide the girls in the village with some basic education.
Fazila Aliani, a social activist, educationist and former member of the Balochistan provincial assembly, recently told the media the reason for the lack of educational facilities was the “insurgency” in the province, “while a lack of necessary funds, absence of a well-defined education policy, lack of girls’ schools, acute shortage of teaching staff, and poverty are other factors which contribute to the backwardness”.
She said that except for Quetta, educational institutions were “non-existent in Baloch-dominated areas of the province”. Aliani also said foreign donors seeking to set up schools in Balochistan struggled to do so because of the lack of security and government resistance.”
Elsewhere in Libya, Berbers are hoping to revive their language and culture after decades of repression under Gaddafi:
“After the Arab conquests in the seventh century and Arabization policies promoted by populist, modern-day Middle Eastern leaders, Berber culture has been slowly driven nearer and nearer to extinction. In Libya, Muammar Qaddafi championed the country’s Arab heritage and even its African roots, but would never acknowledge the country’s original inhabitants, savagely suppressing their language and culture.
Qaddafi banned Libyans from writing or owning books in Tamazight and arrested Amazigh activists — including Buzakhar and his twin brother — to suppress the group and keep them from organizing against his rule. It was little surprise, then, when Amazighs became some of the fiercest fighters in Libya’s revolt against Qaddafi’s rule. Brigades from the Amazigh-heavy Nafusa mountains helped lead the final assault on Tripoli in August.
Now with Qaddafi gone, the Amazigh are taking advantage of their newfound freedom and trying to reclaim their long-suppressed heritage. Cultural organizations, spearheaded by eager young people in the Nafusa mountains and Tripoli, are working hard to spark a cultural revival. Women’s groups, arts societies, and education centers are teaching Tamazight script and trying to preserve Amazigh cultural sites.”