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Internally Displaced Persons and the Education Crisis: The case of Pakistan

Catastrophes and emergencies force people to find safe haven in other places. In the context of internal displacement, the major cause is conflict; be it religious, ethnic, or national. It is not suprising, then, to observe the psychological problems such people are victim to, such as displacement trauma, impacts of broken social networks, impacts of social discrimination, post-traumatic stress disorder etc. According to most studies, majority of those people displaced are school-going children.

As a consequence of Taliban insurgency, especially, there have been around 600,000 + internally displaced persons in North Waziristan, of which more than half are children of school-going age. The increasing influence and control of the Taliban has consistently lead to displacement of people. That, coupled with militant intervention has proliferated mental and physical hardships for such individuals, who find sanctuary elsewhere in Pakistan . Despite domestic and foreign funding, the conditions in refugee camps remain poor. With the low provision of basic necessities such as food, clothes, and shelter, education remains a dream to all the children who battle with psychological problems, and crave some semblance of normalcy. Even those schools that have temporarily been established have staffing and infrastructural issues, since building actually built for the purpose of schooling are used as shelters and anything but for the purpose of providing education.

It is crucial that the government focuses on the rehabilitation of such students, with the first step being the prioritization of education in the states' annual budget. After all, these people belong to Pakistan, so it is necessary to bring their literacy rate at the same level as the rest of the country, because higher averages indicated through the rest of the population would be a false depiction of how well Pakistan is doing, and its seriousness towards education.

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And this mental stress is veryy real. It takes so long to get back to normal and in the process of recovery, it is really difficult to keep up with things.

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Exactly! And to be able to process the trauma on your own without any outlet or support is just terrible

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Giving a priority to education in the state's annual budget seems like a distant dream, unfortunately.

And sadly, in countries like Pakistan, mental health is never taken serious. A country where people do not get enough food, mental health, perhaps, become the least important thing. Situation in conflict affected areas in even more worse, definitely.


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You're right! Even in families who belong to the upper echelons of society, wanting to get help for ones mental health is equated to "paghalpan" or something that should only be done when one is on the brink of , or has completely fallen off into a state of insanity. Either way, its always a matter that should be "hush hush". How then can mental health become a priority when influential rich people who have some power themselves feel this way about mental health.

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It is really interesting that you brought up the psychological problems that the students face in the conflict-affected region and recommended rehabilitation for such students. Unarguably, the students suffering from psychological issues due to conflict would not be able to perform well even when you provide them with basic necessities in the post-conflict recovery due to their poor mental state.

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Zersh Salman
Zersh Salman
Aug 22, 2021
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I agree Muzammil, and I think this is why it is so crucial for education to go beyond formal literacy and numeracy and to promote student well-being, and inculcate a sense of optimism. This becomes even more important in conflict affected areas, where education must be sensitive to the psychosocial effects of violence on students and teachers.

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