Lecturer appeals for pound;300k to rebuild learning in quake-hit Pakistan town

27th January 2006 at 00:00
A lecturer has launched a pound;300,000 appeal to rebuild a college that collapsed in the Pakistan earthquake, killing 200 students.

Abdul Assim, who has taught at Sheffield college in Yorkshire for more than 15 years, led a 10-day delegation to the devastated Kashmir region last month.

When he saw the college in the town of Bagh reduced to a pile of rubble, with only the iron entrance gates left standing, he decided on a campaign to help the stricken community.

The fund has already raised nearly pound;15,000 through a sponsored walk, charity dinners and street collections.

He plans to build a residential college for female students aged 16 and over where they can study for qualifications up to degree level.

He said it will be called the Sheffield girls college Bagh, "because it will be built with the help of the people of Sheffield".

Many survivors from the college, including the principal and some staff, are still living in tents nearly four months after the tragedy.

"After the earthquake, nothing was left," he said. "Nothing could be found in the rubble, no books, no computers, no laboratories.

"Two hundred young girls died in that building and there were many who were badly injured. It was the only college in the whole of the area."

Before the earthquake struck last October, the college housed 600 students taking further and higher education courses.

While in Kashmir, Mr Abdul saw groups of young women taking exams in tents.

"Some of them had travelled for 60 miles from outlying areas," he said.

He is also calling for fellow members of the lecturers union Natfhe to help the relief effort, asking them to spend their summer holiday in Kashmir.

"We want to take a delegation who can train teachers in English, computer and internet studies for a six-week visit, including an intensive four-week training programme," he said.

Participants will have to pay their own air fare but accommodation, food and travel in Kashmir will be provided.

Mr Abdul, who teaches English as a second language and translation courses, said his relatives who live in Pakistan escaped the tragedy as they are from a different part of Kashmir, but he had visited friends who live in the devastated area last July.

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