Ibn Batuta Community School Kosht

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Our objective - Profile

Our objective

Intolerance and ignorance are very much linked to each other.  By establishing a library and a computer centre we give the people of Chitral an access to information they couldn't even dream about before.  In the school we try to cultivate investigating, critical and creative minds.  Like this we lay the foundation for a better understanding of and more tolerance between quite different cultures.

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We, Wendy and Jürgen, are two young Belgians who, after graduation from university, wanted to leave for abroad to live there in accordance to our ideals.

Back in 1996 it wasn't feasible to do this via the official (red tape) way, so we left on our own, independently, for the East, intending to find ourselves a place in one project or another.

After having hitched and hiked through Turkey and Iran, we landed in Pakistan, a country of which we never heard any good before, a situation which surely hasn't changed for the better recently!

Nevertheless we were received with open arms by the people, who exhibited a hospitality, friendliness and cheerfulness long lost in Western countries.  So we decided to delay our continuing journey to India for a while, and first to visit the 'roof of the world'.  A visit which still hasn't come to an end!


In November 1996 we were halted in Booni, where we were requested to start teaching in a community school (Booni is situated 10km Northeast of Kosht).  Initially we worked one year for this school.

In March 1997 we established a small library, with a starting capital of roughly €1000.  The uniqueness of our library system consists of the fact that all managing responsibilities have been given to the students.  All tasks are distributed amongst three teams of students from the three highest classes, thanks to which the two oldest teams are able to train the new team and as such the knowledge to maintain the library is passed on from one generation to the next.  There are several reasons which explain the need for this system:

bullet usually the adults are quite 'corrupt', which means they can't say no to a friend, family member or senior who wants to borrow a book without registration.
bullet till shortly before, books were unavailable and as such most adults don't take interest in reading books.  Obviously such people are not eligible candidates for running a library.
bullet by entrusting responsibility to the youth, we open the door for a new kind of prestige, not based upon the size of the wallet or the land, but upon merit and capability.

In June 1999 our efforts were acknowledged by the Finnish embassy, Islamabad, and thanks to their support of €4000 the library was substantially expanded.  The library still functions, and this has produced some remarkable results: some students already have a broader knowledge than their teachers, and some others dare to question the still existing feudal power structure!  Our old students keep on visiting us, and this gives us the greatest satisfaction.

In August 2000 the preparatory work for the establishment of Ibn Batuta Community School Kosht was started.  Kosht is part of a predominantly Sunni valley, while Booni is part of a predominantly Ismaeli valley.  The Ismaelis are helped abundantly by AKF, a big NGO with large financial means, while the Sunnis usually miss out on their aid.  Of course they are at least partly to be blamed themselves for this, since in general they are quite unwilling to accept modernization in general or interference from outside in their affairs in particular (but is this last attitude not prevalent in all societies?).

Nevertheless sufficient activists are there who want to escape the circle of poverty and ignorance, and who desire more freedom in movement and expression (men and women).  To give these people a chance, we complied with their request and moved house to Kosht.

Our stay in Belgium at the end of 2000 was used to collect the funds required to start up this new project.  Many people as well as some service clubs have helped us with gifts small and big.

On the 15th of March, 2001, our new school started.  Immediately we were facing strong opposition from 2 parties: the religious conservatives and a businessman.  About this you can find the details in our first newsletter.

More info about our project in Kosht you will find elsewhere on our site.

Don't forget to check the News and media page for the most recent information.




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E-mail: info@ibcsk.com
© Wendy&Jürgen 29-Mar-2004

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