The Federal Government Boys Model High School Karimabad, Hunza, will complete hundred years of existence and services this year. This venerated institution was established in 1912 as the first primary school of current Hunza-Nagar district. From inception to date, the school has played a great role in educating and developing the masses of Hunza Valley. It is because of this school that Hunza has earned reputation as a place having highest literacy rate in the country, which is a matter of great pride and prestige for all of us.
During its hundred years of existence, the school produced countless individuals, who not only worked and are currently working on high positions in government and private sectors across the country, as well as abroad. The school’s alumni are spread all over the world, pursuing further education or working in different organizations. It is difficult to identify all those alumni who got prominence in their careers but a few of them are mentioned here for our readers’ interest and information. Some of the prominent names are, Major General Salman (Professor), Aitemadi Fida Ali Aisar, Brigadier(r) Hissamullah Baig, late Brigadier(r) Sheruallah Baig, Brigadier Doctor(S) Ghulam Mehdi, Brigadier (S) Abdul Wahid, Air Commodore(r) Naunihal Shah and Dr. Faqir Mohammad Hunzai, to name a few. In addition, the school has given the people of Hunza a vision and produced a cadre of professionals and academics who played a leading role in development of the area.
The present school administration, after consultations with some of its alumni, has decided to celebrate this great historical occasion, with pomp and show. In this regard, the expertise of some professional individuals were sought to make the events more successful and memorable. Together with this team of professionals, it has been decided that the year would be celebrated in three phases in the form of three major events. One of the events is video documentation of the school’s history, another is publication of a book about the alumni containing articles on the role of school in their achievements and development of the area and the third one is a one-day grand ceremony, towards the end.
At this occasion, it seems relevant to share details about the school, its history, contribution towards the society and its future.
SCHOOL’S JOURNEY THROUGH TIME
At the beginning of the twentieth century there was only one primary school in the then Gilgit Agency, catering to the entire Gilgit-Baltistan region. It is said that in 1910 two more primary schools; one in Astore and another in Bunji were opened, while the then Primary School Gilgit was upgraded to middle level. In Hunza, after many years of consultations and deliberations, the British rulers succeeded in establishing a primary school at Baltit, parts of which were renamed Karimabad.
In this order, the first primary school in Hunza was the only third school in the entire Gilgit-Baltistan region. Available records show that the school may have been operating informally during its initial years, until 1925, as it cannot provide sufficient evidence about the school’s activities; such as number of students enrolled, resources, teachers, classes and subjects. However, a properly maintained record of the school is available from 1925 and onwards, which is a great and trustworthy resource for any research work to be done in future.
The Karimabad High School evolved through various time periods and saw many changes. According to a local source, a Hindu pundit from Kashmir was the first in-charge of the school, while another source contradicts it and says that a man by the name of Abdul Aziz Sialkoti was the first head teacher of the school. The source further adds that the first school building consisted of three rooms and two teachers from Punjab were inducted because there was no relevant human resource available in Hunza during that time.
Wazir Inayatullah Baig is believed to be the first local graduate, who later became incharge of the school in 1916. He also obtained the honour of being the first Hunzai graduate from the famed Aligarh University. Wazir Inayat served in the Karimabad school for six years and he was replaced in 1922 by Ghani Khan, popularly known as Gari Khan, who was the son of the then Mir of Hunza. [sentences omitted] Master Ghani Khan died in 1928 and Master Mohammad Nijat, a graduate of Kashmir High School, succeeded him while Akhund Taighoon was appointed as a new teacher.
The school record shows that in 1938 80 students were enrolled in the school. In 1939, Afiyat Khan, a graduate of Gilgit Boarding School, took charge and was replaced by Sikandar Khan, in the next year, i.e. 1940.
In 1948, the Diamond Jubilee Schools were established by His Highness the Aga Khan III, bringing an alternate option of education to the region.
In 1958-59, the school was upgraded to middle level and Mr. Dad Ali became the head teacher. Up to 1970 this school remained the only government middle school in the entire Hunza-Nager region. In 1970 the school crossed another milestone after being upgraded to secondary level. In 1976-77, the then education minister, Mr. Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, visited the school and approved construction of a new building for the high school at the same site.
On his arrival in Hunza in 1984, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mohammad Khan Junejo, declared it a Model High School and approved funds for addition of more rooms with the old building, but for some inexplicable reasons implementation on the order was not possible. However, in 1993, a part of the old building of 1922 was demolished and a laboratory, few rooms and an office for the head master were constructed.
In the mid 90s, a wave of private English medium schools incarcerated the entire area, leading to a significant drop in the enrolment of students, as parents were more fascinated by the newly established English medium schools. The Karimabad school had to face a tough competition with these private schools in the vicinity for its survival. These schools were constructed by communities to ensure provision of quality education and equip students with English language skills. To pace up with the private schools, English was adapted as a medium of instruction from class 6th to 10th, initially.
An issue emerged when the government banned induction of new teachers. At one time, there were sixteen approved positions for teachers in the school but only six teachers were serving. To overcome the issue, the community was consulted and an endowment was established, with each parent required to contribute Rs.50/-, for hiring of temporary community teachers. This was endorsed by the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA).
In 2000, however, the government lifted the ban on the recruitment of teachers and the school was able to induct four more teachers to fill the gaps.Gradually, English was employed as a medium of instruction in all classes.
In 2003, a number of initiatives were taken at the school level to ensure quality in teaching, learning and administration. A SWOT analysis was conducted which led to the formulation of a realistic School Development Plan (SDP), containing a vision, mission and code of conduct. Moreover, to maintain transparency in the induction of teachers, a tougher screening system was adopted.
In 2004, steps were taken towards effective and efficient utilization of available resources in the school, instead of depending on purchase of costly items. For the first time, a grand merit citation ceremony was organized to encourage the students for their excellent performance in the board and home exams. This included awarding of cash prizes to the position holders. The community had a negative perception about the teachers’ punctuality and regularity in government schools. In this view, an attempt was made to address the issue through an emphasis on observing the code of conduct by the teachers.
In 2005, the system of presenting flag of honor was introduced to encourage promotion of hygienic, conducive, learning environment and a committee was also formed to assess the process. PTA was motivated to have an effective liaison with teachers and communities to minimize students and school related issues.
In 2007, the school signed an agreement with a UNICEF sponsored project known as ‘Child Friendly Schools Project (CFS) and in 2011 it has signed another agreement with an Australian funding agency sponsored project, Educational Development and Improvement Program (EDIP).
These projects are working on five areas: increasing enrolment and reducing drop outs, provision of quality education, community participation, gender sensitivity and inclusiveness. The aim of both projects is bringing government schools at par with some good schools of our country. These projects help the school in provision of instructional materials, repair and maintenance of the buildingand capacity building of teachers through Professional Development Centre North (PDCN). The EDIP project also sent a Professional Development Teacher (PDT) at the school, who provides professional support to the teachers.
The Karimabad Government Model High school, since its inception in 1912, has been a source of strength for the entire community of Hunza Valley, particularly. The journey of hundred years is not ordinary. Generations have benefited from it and even in the future it can serve the communities, but for that to happen in a powerful manner, the alumni and the government will have to take a proactive role, by bringing innovation and making resources available, while constantly improving the quality of education being imparted.
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