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Primary education in urban vs. rural areas–II

Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig

Education in the states of Dir, Swat and Chitral has faced different attitude from the rulers.

In Swat, they enjoyed better access to bigger cities and were more influenced than Chitral or Dir. In Chitral, primary schools had been opened in a number of villages at the time of Shujaul Mulk and the teachers were paid in grain. These were not like the present primary schools but a few Persian books were taught, no Urdu, let alone English or Arabic despite the importance of the two.

In Dir, the approach was quite different and no education was allowed. Those in Chitral were also for elite class children. No middle class or lower class was allowed.

There was one such school functionional in the ground floor of the Shahi Mosque. Once the Mehtar received a report that the son of a certain paramedic  had also been allowed in the school by the teacher. He made a visit and asked about the students and the families to which they belonged. He had his walking stick in his hand. One boy said that he was the son of the doctor. which doctor?  he asked. The boy named his father. The Mehtar was angry and said ‘he is not a doctor, he is a compounder. understand?

The said man had been hired by the Mehtar and called to Chitral to dispense medical services to the royal family as well as the courtiers. Despite his medical services, the ruler did not like his son among the students of the school. He ordered the teacher not to give admission to the sons of the common man but keep it restricted to the upper class – the adherents of the Mehtar.

The primary school system was later extended and after the decline of the ruling family the assistant political agent toured the valleys of Chitral on horseback and was received by the public and in most villages primary school was demanded. They did not ask roads,  projects, health facilities but demanded primary schools and the APA asked them about the availability of a teacher and where teacher or more than one literate men were found was appointed as teacher but the people of the nearby villages were made bound to build rooms on self-help basis and it was done voluntarily.

The schools thus began to increase and multiplied in the fifties, sixties and seventies.  Under the APA, the discrimination of upper class, middle class and lower class was eradicated and an egalitarian system was introduced. The name of the APA who opened primary schools for all was Mir Ajam Khan.

At present, the number of primary schools, Maktab schools etc. is about a thousand or so added by girls primary schools but the valleys of Chitral are so scattered and difficult to travel that more primary schools for girls are needed as a small girl of  five+years cannot walk to school in the for flung areas where no transport is available and she has to walk to and walk back from school and gets over tired. There is a great need of girls primary schools in the distant valleys – rural areas – both in lower and upper Chitral.

The authorities should undertake a survey of all such villages in all the valleys and open schools for girls and priority should be given to distance from schools and the weather conditions of high altitude regions.

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