Pakistan’s Swat Valley is often called the Switzerland of Pakistan. But its beauty was lost for many years to the rampages of the Taliban occupation and consequent anti-terrorism operations in the region. We barely hear the words technology and Swat in the same sentence because the provincially mismatched resources often make it seem like only urban centers can be hubs of discovery and growth. However, students in Swat are currently proving everyone wrong. A science fair is currently underway, which is a beautiful demonstration of the resilience of the Swat Valley inhabitants. It also shows the willpower of the people to change their circumstances after years of violence in the region. The two-day Swat Science Fair has been organized by Udhyaana, Swat Education Department and Pakistan Alliance for Maths and Science.
Meet Dr Jawad Iqbal — an inspirational figure from Swat — he is the brains behind the #SwatScienceFestival and founder of @Udhyaana
Here he talks about what the event signifies for the schoolchildren of Swat
Udhyaana was Swat’s name during the Buddhist era pic.twitter.com/UJX58z8aSI
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) April 18, 2018
— Nimra Tariq (@Nimra_T01) April 17, 2018
— Malala (@Malala) April 17, 2018
Anwar Ali broke the TV remote and made this remote control car. He said his parents initially showed anger but later when they saw this car they asked him to make more cars!????#SwatScienceFestival@EducationKP @@mosharrafzaidi @ZiauddinY @RehamKhan1 @mehreenzahra @AtifKhanpti pic.twitter.com/8zYV8jlu1w
— Farhad Jarral (@farhadjarralpk) April 18, 2018
Muskan Sarfaraz prepared this global ice cream and explains that the World is melting like an ice cream. She seeks attention of global leaders to take immediate actions to stop global warming. #SwatScienceFesival @EducationKP @ZiauddinY @MuhammadLila @aher5 @gabeeno @Malala pic.twitter.com/vOyuvcYJZ5
— Udhyana (@Udhyaana) April 17, 2018
— Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) April 17, 2018
— Mahim Maher (@Mahim_Maher) April 17, 2018
Guess what? In Pakistan’s Swat Valley – the same place the Taliban tried to silence @Malala and shut down girls’ schools – hundreds of girls are now competing in a huge science festival #SwatScienceFestival @Udhyaana #GirlsInSTEM pic.twitter.com/kUqSRz75Ba
— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) April 16, 2018
No doubt, Malala’s struggles have enabled a positive wave of energy to envelop Swat in terms of better education for its inhabitants. Parents are now more aware and are sending their girls to school willingly. Some students, however, are crediting the Swat Science Festival to their teachers. More qualified teachers are enabling students to realize their potential to the fullest. All this coupled with better resources has resulted in a thriving atmosphere of learning at the Swat Science Fair.
What is most refreshing it the lack of all forms of politics from the narrative that is forming on social media, particularly Twitter. No photo-op by politicians, no political motivations behind the Swat Science Fair. Just students, teachers, and parents coming together to build the society from the ground up. The Swat Science Fair has put theoretical learning in tandem with practical application and it is certainly a milestone worth celebrating for Swat’s socio-economic development.