THATTA: Amid poor nationwide rate of literacy and declining standard of education in the province, Tar Khuwaja, a small village of 500 souls, 63 kilometres from here, has sprung up like an oasis with more than 80 per cent literacy rate.
The village has produced two Ph.D scholars, 10 engineers, 15 doctors, 60 male and female teachers and over two dozen nurses and lady health visitors.
A Ph.D scholar Dr. Ghulam Ali Allana went on to become vice-chancellor of the Sindh University and Allama Iqbal Open University. The other, Dr. Mansoor Ali, a position holder in chemical engineering from the Mehran University has achieved his doctorate from London and lives in Canada nowadays.
A number of youth who received education from a community-based primary school established in the village in 1926 under the auspices of the Agha Khan Foundation have gone to the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and a number of other European countries to purse advanced studies.
Ms Mehrunnisa Khuwaja is one of such students doing masters in engineering from a Canadian university after receiving a degree in architectural engineering.
The village population almost exclusively comprises Ismaili community, which is highly organised and dependant on agriculture for a living. The average literacy rate is slightly above 80 per cent.
Every village family owns large tracts of fertile land around the village and almost all female members equally take part in work on farms despite having been educated and employed in different government departments.
The village got electricity in 1982. Although old straw thatched huts have given way to cemented houses but their interior deign looks like a replica of traditional village houses with barns, big piles of paddy plastered over with mud and agricultural implements.
Natha Khan Khuwaja, a prominent advocate, Ghulam Mustafa Hashmani, a social activist and Mashooq Ali and Mansoor Ali, noted academicians, told Dawn that the village's achievements in education had inspired adjoining villages to follow their model and they were now sending their children to primary school in Tar village.
A poor son of a hari made it to the post of revenue mukhtiarkar in the district after getting education in the village's primary education, they said.
Natha Khan Khuwaja, an octogenarian, is a leading spirit behind progress in the village's prosperity and literacy. In 1958 he requested Aga Kan Some-III to establish a separate Agha Khan Council for the village. The request was approved and he was made the first head of the village council and remained in the office from 1958 to 1972.
He said that he established the Prince Cooperative Credit Society to alleviate poverty from the village and it played a key role in bringing progress to poor families.
Tar is a Sindhi word for a berth on a river bank where a boat can take passengers on board to get them across. The village has taken its name from a now dried up tributary of the Indus which passed through the village in olden times.
The village has lush green fields where farm workers and land owners are always seen busy ploughing, weeding and cultivating. Almost all seasonal crops, including paddy, wheat, sugarcane, cereals, tomatoes, vegetables, sunflower and cotton are cultivated in the village farms.