By Alhaj Muhammad Khan
The Langlands School and College, formerly known as Sayurj School – a well-known and historical private institution – has been a hot topic both in local and international media.
Much has recently been written on the issue in online papers in opinions and subsequent comments lavishly unleashed on the subject made it more political than an administrative issue of Governing Body of the school and Principal.
The matter became more upsetting when the ex-Principal Major G.D Langlands who managed the school as principal until 2013, in his visit to Chitral ‘stages(ed) perfectly British coup in this institution again, ‘The Times’ London reported.
Neil Tweedie, in his long report of 2013 published on ‘The Telegraph’ had written on ‘Goodbye to Major Geoffrey Langlands of the Hindu Kush’ that ‘Geoffrey Langlands refuses to simply disappear. For him, retirement is a wholly alien concept’. ‘The Times’ again hashtaged it ‘Retirement does not suit Major Geoffrey Langlands. At the age of 97, and just two years after he stood down as principal of one of Pakistan’s best-known private schools, he has ousted his female successor in what appears to have been a perfectly executed coup’.
The step taken by G.D Langlands must be seen on the grounds that the rules set for the administering the school and governing body, rather giving preference to the decision in which he unilaterally turned down his own appointments in a single stroke of a pen even bypassing the incumbent Principal Ms.Carey Schofield –was on return trip to London, and School’s BOG.
There are two points worth to be considered it this context. First ‘as Major (Langlands) was making his way north (to Chitral) the Pakistani authorities cancelled Miss Carey Schofield’s visa, preventing her from resuming her position’ reported ‘The Telegraph’. The interior ministry in Pakistan is assigned to renew and cancel the visa, reportedly Langlands by his former student chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan –the sitting interior minister delayed her visa on the very time, is legally justified? Can Major Langlands, as chairman board of trustees take such a decision? Is it in line with the governing rules of the school?
Second: it is also reported in the local news site by some writers that ‘security agencies cancelled her visa’ writing on ‘military subjects’, is also doubtful? Had security agencies at that time were not aware when she was being appointed for this position of principalship? If they were aware of it, why didn’t they cancel her visa at that time? Has Ms.Carey after taking over as principal of the school, published this book? Absolutely not. Is there no book written on this subject? There are many books, and the military of Pakistan- is the major subject of research and writing in Pakistan. It is also important that there are many researchers both in civil and military who by their own research can, have given answer the questions raised on the military, its role in a better way. I think it is a case identical to ban on YouTube as an answer to media slot in the case of blasphemy under blasphemy act- it seeks to punish the act of blasphemy not create prior restraints on freedom of expression and media.
There is a misconception about that ‘Langlands is the founder and owner of the school’? Mr. Langlands is not the founder and owner of this entity, he was the first principal. Now he is the Chairman of School’s trust – a position given to him by trustees as a mark of respect. This trust is based on the money given to it by the successive governments in Pakistan mainly by General Pervaiz Musharaf. It is also important to acknowledge that G.D Langlands in his time has raised funds for school trust significantly.
The incumbent principal Ms.Carey also did the same job for school trust. She reportedly raised 120 million rupees for school and she considers it as a part of her job and does not want to take credit of it.
Everyone in Chitral agree on the point that Major G.D Langlands is the first Principal of the school. This school was named after him ‘The Langlands School and College’ as a recognition of his 25 years of service in Chitral for the promotion of education. He is placed in high esteem and everyone takes his name with respect in Chitral not being an Englishman but the benefactor of Chitrali people.
It is also important to mention here is that Ms.Carey Schofield left her home near London’s fashionable Sloane Square abandoning a happy lifestyle in Britain to take up this challenging job.
Making a worthy contribution for this school she took up this assignment from Major Langlands’ as his successor , wanted nothing else but ‘it would be nice to make a difference’ … do something useful… educate a thousand pupils… improve a thousand young lives. The job is daunting but worth doing’ she said in her first interview, The Telegraph reported.
From the reports and opinions on the online websites it is evident that she has brought better reforms in school. She improved school’s profile significantly and streamlined financial infrastructure efficiently. She overhauled the transport system- major income consumer of school, constructed metal road, and a formidable boundary wall for school.
It is also reported that she has improved teaching learning process in school significantly. She has developed code of conduct, school policy, tutorial system, reviving the concept of troika- teacher, students, parents; planning to update library, piloting online classes, ensuring monthly and term examinations, encouraging students in co-curricular activities, laid standard discipline in school, dress code, timing, punctuality and making encouraging ways to minimize absenteeism of both teachers and students in school.
Pakistan is the signatory of United Nations Charter, is pleading for space for civil society actors i.e individual those who work for the humanitarian grounds. Ms.Carey has a right to defend his case in presence of Board of Governor, and other stakeholders of the school. They do have the right to know about how the governing rules of the school were upheld in taking decisions about the best interest of the school.
The writer is a free lance journalist based in Chitral.