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teacher trainer




15 January 2001


Not surprisingly given Aman’s profession, the interview focuses strongly on education. Aman spent several years as a teacher and then a head teacher in Shimshal before moving to Gilgit where he now lives and works. In the latter half of the interview the interviewer successfully moves the discussion onto other topics: migration, city versus village life, Aman’s poetry, the Shimshal Nature Trust (SNT) and the road. Aman’s answers are all fairly long and detailed.

Although illiterate, Aman’s father recognised the importance of education and strived to ensure his sons had the opportunity to be educated. Aman describes his own philosophy of education or ilm (knowledge/education): “for me ilm is a light and on the path of ilm I will definitely get those things for which I am having the ability and for those things which are heavier or things which I am not able to understand I will need extra light. So for this purpose I prefer this life, that is the step towards education, and I also prefer the same way for my brothers and sisters, and for my village as well.”

Aman provides a detailed account of education in Shimshal, from a lack of basic facilities to the difficulties in persuading people to send their daughters to school and to pay school fees. Aman’s outlook on his own future and that of Shimshal is very forward looking, whilst respecting aspects of their past such as the Wakhi language. Aman previously wrote poetry in Urdu but has now started working in Wakhi. His main objective now is to preserve and revive the Wakhi language: “because many words of our language had been lost or replaced by other languages… So I am trying to use these sorts of words in my poetry. Nowadays I am busy working on the alphabet of our Wakhi language, I want everyone to be able to read our language.”

He is largely positive about the road, seeing it as crucial for development, and having a range of positive impacts. For example, he believes it may curb rather than increase migration, as it will be easier for people to fulfil their requirements in Shimshal.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1-2  Aman’s marriage was arranged by his parents and is a happy one. He describes how those men called Maad in his family have always played an important role: “all… were very creative or inqalabi (revolutionary) types of people. The first Maad was first arbob (Mir’s main representative in the village) of Shimshal. The second Maad was zarjh (foster brother: milk brother – breastfed from the same woman) of the Mir (rulers of Hunza state up to 1972) - in those times your status was based on one’s relationship to the Mir. And the third Maad was my own father, who was not only the yarpa (Mir’s representative responsible for livestock production and supervision of central grain store) of Mir… but he also thought about the modern age… And the fourth Maad is the name of my own youngest son.” Story of how his father came to see the value of education. Aman was thinking of going to Karachi to continue his studies but decided to stay in Shimshal and work as a teacher so he could support his brothers’ education.
Section 3-4  Believes that to get an education is the most important thing. When asked about the differences between his father’s life and his he describes two paths: “One fedekh (path) is my ancestor’s ancient lifestyle, and the other is my own new life. On the previous path, there were my father’s wealth, livestock, and his farming lands. And on the new path, which I have got, is my education.” He explains how AKRSP has introduced ideas for new breeds of livestock, or for marketing their produce and this has required ilm. He describes the path of education and ilm as one of light, and the other of darkness.
Section 4-5  Although living in Gilgit he does not feel that he has left his lands forever. His brother is looking after them. “My wife was alone in Shimshal to look after our lands and everything, and it was very difficult for her to manage everything… and that is why we kooch (migrated) from Shimshal and decided to live in Gilgit… the main objective behind living in Gilgit is to give my children a quality education…” Hopes he and his wife will return to Shimshal when his children are old enough to stay in a school hostel in Gilgit.
Section 5-6  His thoughts about education in Shimshal: the majority of Shimshalis rely on their agriculture and livestock and therefore shouldn’t all rush towards education, “but the process should be continued slowly, as it is going now.” Compared to other villages in the area, Shimshal is doing well in terms of numbers of people with degrees etc. Community work should change from farming to a focus on education: “…we are constructing paths for our pastures, we are building shelters for our livestock in the pastures…in my opinion now it is time to look towards the condition of our schools…” Believes the community has become a bit careless now regarding education compared to other local villages. Thinks parents should be more involved in their children’s education.
Section 6-8  Describes his experience as head teacher in Shimshal: “initially the problems I had to face were…due to cultural norms. The introduction of female education was a totally new concept for people to accept… And for this purpose I personally visited their homes and motivated the parents to send their daughters to school…” At that time their school stood as 2nd best primary school in Hunza. Problems encountered when the school upgraded to a middle school without expanding the building. Other difficulties were that the teachers weren’t properly trained when the medium changed from Urdu to English. It is also a struggle to convince villagers they should pay for education.
Section 8-9  Benefits of education are not immediately visible, and so it requires investment and confidence by parents. The lack of teachers locally to teach to a higher level means students have to go down country to study: “These students have to do small jobs to cover their educational needs as well as other needs and that is why they couldn’t concentrate well on their studies.” Another difficulty is the lack of facilities for both teachers and students, as compared to schools in Hunza and Gilgit
Section 9  Advantages of village life: “the jamat (community) work together, help each other in solving problems, live happily with each other, and participate actively in others’ happiness as well as anxieties.” In the village there is a custom of support and assistance for those who are old, ill or hungry. Also people are not only paid regard for their wealth: “a person who is poor but is aged is having his own personal identity and self-respect among others, and the youth are always ready to take care of him in every situation.”
Section 10-12  A generation gap: many of the young who have been down country are regarded by the elders with suspicion. But he believes people always think positively about their village even when they are away, and when they return they invariably bring both positive and negative influences. Games he played as a child. His poetry: first started writing in Urdu and then moved to Wakhi.
Section 12-13  SNT is trying to manage the changes facing the community and identify the positive and negatives aspects. He concludes by saying, “I think the vision of SNT is very good. So it is needed to make our villagers understand how we can be organised on one platform, and manage things in a better way.”
Section 13-15  The road: recognises the immediate negative impacts: “All of us might start running towards wealth. And secondly, it will bring different types of visitors for us … So we can say that the road might bring an attitudinal change in us.” But overall feels the road will have many benefits. There would be better education facilities, and he believes the road may curb migration “because we would be able to get all the facilities here in Shimshal.” It will also be easier for villagers to access development opportunities His main hobby is photography: “I had never seen my grandfather. He had died many years before my birth. Schomberg (a foreign explorer in the 1940s) had made my grandfather’s photograph [which] enabled me to know and see my grandfather… it has inspired me a lot …”