Just before the midday Zuhr prayers, tiny figures in sky blue uniforms skitter out of the mosque. They jump and hop their way down its steep rock steps, giggling past a man rinsing himself up to the elbows. School’s finished for the day and the Azan is around the corner.
These are the students of a one-of-its-kind kindergarten mosque in Basi and Rahimabad, which are such a remote part of Shangla that it takes you a day to walk there from the nearest town, Alpuri. “Nobody goes to the mosque after Fajr prayers till Zuhr and so we specified this time for our children to study in it,” explains Fazal Dad, an elder of the area. There was no primary school in the area and they had no place to even build one, so they asked the mosque to help.