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Anti-education move: AKES sarts shutting down girls' schools in Chitral

ISLAMABAD, March 25: It seems that after failing to make any impact as regard to quality education, the Aga Khan Education Service (AKES) has made up its mind to wind up or at least limit its operation in Chitral. However, it cannot be ascertained if the decision to close down selected schools in remote areas, where students have no access to educational institutions run even by government education department, has been taken or even approved by the top management of the AKES based in Karachi. Local people informed ChitralToday that Mir Zaman Shah, the general manager (GM) of AKES Chitral, had started shutting down girls schools in different parts of Chitral, especially in upper areas, for reasons best known to him. It may be noted taht there are over 55 AKES and community-based schools for girls in Chitral. They residents said that four schools for girls were shut down last year while the AKES GM was planning to put lock on another four institutions this year. Among the four is the girls’ primary school in the Khuz village, they added. The people of the Khuz village confirmed that they had been informed by a Mastuj-based representative of the AKES not to give admission to girls this year. This has sent shockwaves among the people of the village. The AKES girls’ primary school was established in Khuz about 15 years back. The village is situated in a remote landlocked area on the right bank of the river Yarkhun. The closure of the lone girls’ school Khuz will certainly deprive the little girls of education in the 21st centaury as they cannot go to Brep at a distance of 14km or Chuinj/Chapari situated about 16km away from the village across the river. Above all, there have been seven to eight cases in which senior school girls lost their lives while crossing difficult terrains and the suspension bridges over the Yarkhun river while commuting from the village. The people of the area have expressed grave concern over the silence of the government as well the top AKES management in Karachi, saying if the AKES manager was not reined in, the little girls will be deprived of basic education – what a way to achieve the millennium development goals of which education is the top most priority. They said that the general manager was having some management problems with the teachers of AKES schools regarding increase in salaries and after losing all hopes to satisfy the teachers, he had resorted to locking the schools. Meanwhile, people belonging to both the Sunni and Ismaili communities held a meeting in Booni regional council and passed a unanimous resolution against the general manager for his decision to shut the girls’ primary school Khuz. In the resolution, they called upon the top management of the AKES as well as the provincial government to take strict action against the general manager AKES Chitral who instead of encouraging girls’ education was hell-bent on closing the schools. When contacted, the GM AKES Chitral could not come up with any logical answer except putting the blame on the regional council of upper Chitral. He had nothing to say in his defence except asking this reporter to contact the regional council, an honorary set-up having no role in the administrative matters of AKES. But when pressed, he confirmed that he was going to convey to the area people in writing that the AKES primary school in Khuz should stop further admissions – a move to pave the way for automatically shutting down the school by bringing down the required strength of girls’ students.  ]]>

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