HomeBusinessStranded cable automotive highlights Pakistan college accessibility disaster By Reuters

Stranded cable automotive highlights Pakistan college accessibility disaster By Reuters


© Reuters. Israr Ahmed, (R – 2nd row) who survived after being rescued from a stranded cable automotive, sits with different kids in a classroom at a college in Battagram, Pakistan, August 23, 2023. REUTERS/Salahuddin


By Salah Uddin and Charlotte Greenfield

BATTAGRAM, Pakistan (Reuters) – Ibrar Ahmed is relieved to be alive after being caught on a cable automotive excessive over a river in northern Pakistan for 16 hours this week, however now the coed wonders how he’ll make the arduous trek to class every day.

“God prepared, I’m going to proceed with my research, however the way in which to our faculty is so lengthy,” he mentioned after Tuesday’s ordeal, which grabbed international consideration.

“Generally … I get late for varsity as a result of it opens at 8:30 a.m. and the highway is so perilous,” mentioned Ahmed, in his first 12 months of highschool at Batungi Pashto Authorities Faculty. “The (chair)carry is critical, however now we’re afraid of it.”

Seven kids and one man have been rescued by Pakistan’s army and civilians from the flimsy cable automotive after a cable broke, dangling them 183 metres (600 toes) excessive in mountainous Battagram district north of Islamabad.

The harrowing ordeal highlights a disaster of college accessibility for a lot of in Pakistan, with few excessive faculties, poor roads, poverty and excessive climate hampering college students’ skill to get to class.

That may be a main purpose Pakistan has the world’s second-lowest charge of college attendance. Some 23 million, or 44%, of Pakistani kids aged 4 to 16 are out of college and the scenario is worse for women, in keeping with authorities figures and the World Financial institution.

Given Pakistan’s big youth inhabitants, boosting training charges is important for financial sustainability and to mitigate the safety issues that plague the South Asian nation, exacerbated by the lure of militant teams in impoverished rural areas, analysts and economists say.

“Lengthy distances and journey occasions, few transportation choices and prices are among the boundaries to entry training, significantly for women who are sometimes not allowed to journey lengthy distances alone,” mentioned Ellen Van Kalmthout, chief of training at UNICEF Pakistan.

Ahmed desires “a correct highway” and a highschool close to his village.


Batungi Pashto Excessive Faculty head instructor Ali Asghar Khan hyperlinks lengthy commutes to excessive dropout charges.

“Most boys who come from far-off villages strive their finest to proceed however they typically face issues in travelling forwards and backwards, both as a result of they’re too younger or not sturdy sufficient or sick, in order that they undoubtedly go away their research,” Khan mentioned. “The ratio of dropouts is excessive right here.”

Many college students should stroll one to 3 hours every method on poorly constructed trails, crossing streams that swell into harmful rivers in wet seasons, Khan mentioned. Those that make it are sometimes exhausted by the journey, worsened by northern Pakistan’s scorching summers and freezing winters. Drained and hungry, they battle to pay attention, he mentioned.

Communities have strung up scores of cable automotive methods by way of the mountainous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of steep hills plunging into valleys. They typically reduce commutes to twenty minutes for an inexpensive fare however come at a harmful value, even earlier than Tuesday’s scare.

“Quite a few accidents have occurred previously,” mentioned former provincial police inspector basic Naeem Khan. “Largely the native individuals themselves with some assist from the native police rescue the stranded individuals.”

A civilian concerned in Tuesday’s rescue mentioned he had rescued individuals at the least six occasions earlier than on smaller chairlifts.

Some 50 charlifts dot the hillsides of close by Swat Valley. Residents mentioned the vehicles present a lifeline for college kids, particularly after extreme flooding final 12 months broken infrastructure, however there had been a number of deaths and accidents previously 12 months.

“Two months in the past, a lady and her little one fell into the River Swat… when the rope of the cable automotive broke. Their our bodies are but to be recovered,” mentioned resident Nasrullah Khan.


Native officers and growth businesses are struggling to repair the issues within the province, that are echoed all through Pakistan.

“It is rather tough for them to achieve faculties in far-flung areas, however our authorities has in the previous few years invested closely and modern concepts have been introduced ahead,” mentioned Syed Hammad Haider, extra deputy commissioner of Battagram district.

Distant studying and community-based lessons, significantly for women, are a precedence, whereas all the world’s cable vehicles are being checked and any with security dangers might be shut down, he mentioned.

The World Financial institution is investing $300 million in rural infrastructure for the province in a challenge by way of 2027, with entry to training in thoughts.

Challenges embody the scarcity of center and excessive faculties, particularly for women, and the shortage of fine all-weather roads, “which have gotten more and more susceptible to pure disasters as a result of local weather change”, a World Financial institution spokesperson mentioned.

For college kids in areas like Battagram who danger their lives to go to high school, that can’t come quick sufficient.

“We’ll no longer go by carry, however I do not need to go away college both,” mentioned Rizwan Ullah, one other rescued scholar. “We would like roads in our area, we would like a bridge, we would like excessive faculties, we would like all these services. That is our demand.”

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