Education in Gilgit-Baltistan

Muhammad Ali

Education is viewed as the key to the development of any society in the contemporary world. Having its distinct geographical, economic and social dynamics,Gilgit-Baltistan(GB)cannot overlook the need of quality education for its meaningful and sustainable development.

The history of education is not much longer in GB however;the available data/information related to education reveal ssome interesting points (strengths and challenges) about education in the region. For example, according to the Pakistan Education Statistics (2010-11)around 2918 educational institutions are working in the region, out of which 1715 are public and 1203 are private institutions. It means that around 58 percent public and 42 percent private institution are engaged in providing the facilities of education in the region. Furthermore, the statistics also shows that almost 47 percent of the students are enrolled inthe private educational institutions. The trends indicate that the number of the private institutions is growing rapidly with the passage of time.

The above given figures tells some interesting stories.The increasing number of private institutions may indicate that the people of area particularly parents are becoming increasingly conscious about their children’s education particularly quality education. Hence they are ready to pay for education despite their financial challenges. On the other hand it may be interpreted that parents are less satisfied with the current performance of the public intuitions hence they prefer private institutions.

Muhammad AliSecondly, the number of educational institutions in GB are comparatively very low than other provinces and Azad Jamu Kashmir.Even in some districts in other provinces, the number of schools is higher than the total number of educational intuitions in GB. This shows that the size of the educational institutions in GB is quite manageable for planning and execution.

Thirdly, it is also interesting to know that according to a survey conducted by ASER the students from the schools of GB have performed better in some subjects compare to the students from other parts of Pakistan. This indicates the potential of students in the region which can be realized through serious efforts in education.

However, with some brighter sides there are gloomy areas which need serous reflection and action to improve. For example, despite the increasing awareness about education in the area the overall literacy is rate is still 52 percent and it means that almost half of the population is illiterate. A large number of the children are still out of the school and it seems challenging to fulfill our commitment of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to provide primary education to all children by 2015.

The data also reveals that there is a wide gap in the enrollment between the boys and girls in the educational institutions. The gender disparity can be observed at different level such as number of institutions, enrollment of students, number of teachers/head teachers and other facilities.

It is also evident that a large number of the public schools lack basic facilities such as washrooms, water, electricity, teaching learning material, space and furniture etc.

Furthermore, for last the couple of months the education department has been, unfortunately, much highlighted in the media for the accusation of irregularities in teachers’ appointment. Such news related to education is really a matter of concern for the people of GB. The allegation is right or wrong we cannot give any judgment, however, this kind of allegation has a big implication for the public educational institutions. Such news may further deteriorate the credibility of the public education system.

We must understand that corruption and negative political influence has devastated the education system in other parts of Pakistan particularly in Sindh. We must realize that education is like blood for all systems. If it becomes affected then nobody can prevent the society from corruption. We must learn good practices from other provinces but should avoid the malpractices rather we should make endeavor to provide good example for others.

Despite the above mentioned challenges of education, GB has the potential to be model for other parts of the country. Building on the strengths, some serious steps needs to be taken to develop a quality education system.

First, realizing it constitutional responsibility, the GB government needs to show it full will/comment for education. After the 18th amendment the education has become business of provincial government. Hence taking the advantage of this opportunity the GB government should think seriously about education and take conscious steps to improve the education system in the areas. For example, to highlight the cause of education legally/conditionally, a bill should be passed by the assembly which must reflect the vision of the government for education. To fulfill the basic need of the educational institutions budget needs to be increased for education.

Second, a comprehensive strategic plan with clear goals needs to be developed by involving all stockholders in education. There are individuals as well as institutions in GB, who have the capacity and skills in educational planning and management. Hence they must be engaged informing the policy and developing comprehensive plan.

Third, an effective monitoring and evaluation system is crucial in order to execute the initiations in education. For example, for the last couple of years,salary of teachers has been increasing however the accountability/performance aspect is overlooked.The teacher must be paid higher salary however;the increment needs to be linked with their performance. Fund must be provided directly to schools based on their performance.

Fourth, research needs to be base for any decision and action in education. In this regard the department of education in Karakorum International University and other teacher education institutions should be involved in the research process for providing credible information for educational initiatives.

Furthermore, a strong coordination is needed between the public and private educational institutions. They should not be considered rivals rather view them sources to achieve the same goal. There is required to develop such environment and mechanism that the two systems can learn from each other.

In addition, educational policy and initiatives must be gender sensitive in order to deal with the existing gender gap in education.

Finally, the curriculum and textbook must be reviewed in order to make it relevant to the students by incorporating contextual and cultural related content. The curriculum/textbooks must reflect the plurality of cultures exists in the area. It should be encouraged to respect, appreciate and celebrate the multifaceted diversity of the area in order to create harmony for coexistence.

In short, keeping in view the unique cultural, economic, geographical needs of GB, quality education can be the only way for the meaningful development of the area. The education sector of GB has the potential to be nurtured as a model for the country. However, efforts are needed at multiple levels to strive for the cause of education.

The writer is an educator.

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  1. You presented a good research and analytical analysis about Education in Gilgit Baltistan. However no any stack holder is there to work seriously to centralize the Education properly and should actively involve to owning social responsibility of society.

  2. Keeping in view the failure & incompetence of the sitting (GB) Govt in general and sitting (GB) minister for education in particular, its now more than clear that private sector has own the responsibility for up-liftment of education in the region. Thanks to Institutions of AKDN for their efforts & endeavors to educate the region decades back which has now produced ample educationists.

    We now expect educationists, academicians, private bodies, thinkers, professionals and intellectuals of the region to play a significant role at their respective ends for sustainable development of educational sector in the region.

    I strongly second the point of the writer that eduction being the Life Blood / Backbone of any nation / society is the only way out for paving our ways towards development.

    Lastly but not least to elect educated & honest representatives from our respective constituencies, also becomes our dire responsibility who eventually frame our policies and participate in decision-making process concerning the fate of the region at multiple fronts.
    Expecting any good from the sitting ones can be a nice example of innocence!

  3. Very interesting article. A job well done by the author. Particularly, for quoting a more realistic and humble figure of 52% of literacy rate in GB, compared to an unrealistic and utopian figure of 98% of literacy rate popularized by some educators in the region.

    The education sector has to do with minds and brains of the youth in the region. No matter how excellent GB is doing, there will always be room for improvement. Particularly, the higher education needs to be research intensive, to find indigenous solutions for the problems of GB.

  4. The following immediate steps can be taken to improve the existing education system in both sectors Private and Public( Govt) as well.

    Mapping of Schools: To overcome the mushrooming of schools a regulatory body can be formed and on in view of population and need bases schools can be allowed to open and run.
    Uniformity in school routines:
    Uniformity in text books, medium of instructions, examination, school uniforms, recruiting body consisting on major stake holders. Islamiyat can be allowed to teach according to the relevant faith.

    Stoppage of illegal hiring: Transparent and standard mechanism can be employed for hiring staff. In this process major parties of education providers in GB can be involved to ensure its transparency and fairness.

    Stream lining of unauthorized Schools. The major cause of falling the results of Govt schools is to allow running the unauthorized schools without staff and resources. This is openly violation of honesty on behalf of management and political leadership.
    As case studies I give you two concrete examples.
    Case Study no 1:
    In my vicinity there is a Govt girl school. One year ago I asked about its status from three Key responsible persons 1. Head 2. DDE 3. Director The answer was totally different from one another.
    Head could not clear his school status i.e he told me to ask this question by management.
    DDE told this is 100% full-fledged high school while Director told me this is 40 % high school. While its original status is Primary because this school gets only 29 thousand budget per annum. To collect the money through illegally appointments more than 20 teachers have been kept in school while other resources are almost near to nil. The sign board is there clearly written FGGHS……….. My question is why we are deceiving to our own people if school is primary than focus should be at Primary level. If community demands for high than they should contribute fully to compensate the deficiency of resources whether it is material or human resources. But it is also not happening. Consequently all students suffer and no one get proper and focus concentration. My request with Govt management is not allowed to run the un authorized schools with out formal approval of proper resources.
    Case study no 2: I also noticed there was a stamp of FGGHS……..on prescribed format which I had received. When I asked deputy head about its official status he told me this is Primary school consisting on only 7 teachers not even middle. I asked why this stamp reflects HS. His remarks were amazing…in 2009 some teachers were appointed illegally bribing 3 lac while in 2012 this demand grow and some teachers were appointed on 4 lac. But now their salary is stopped and students are saying we do not study under these three luki and four luki teachwers if this would be situation in schools what would be the situation of Quality education where basic human and moral values are distorted. All these things affects the education adversely. Here I want to share the case studies of best improved schools at world level. The policy makers as well as decision makers and educationist can think to shift the paradigm shifting if situation allows them to take a step forward towards quality education.

    How the world’s most improved school systems getting better.
    Better education is the key to societal and global productivity and personal and social well being. Michel Fullan

    • Mickensey & his company report 2007
    • Report theme : Common attributes of Excellent Schools systems
    • Analyzed 20 best school systems of the world
    • 200 educational leaders were interviewed
    • 575 interventions were studied
    • Followed two step approach
    – Sustain improver (more than five years in students’ performance) Singapore, Ontario, Poland……13 countries education systems.
    – Promising starts (Showed improvement recently and two to three years duration) Madiya perdaysh India,Minas Gerais Brazil, Western cape (South Afriqa)

    • To complete the performance journey of any school needs three steps
    1. Performance stage
    • Reflecting how far the system has progress relatively to others and the ground on which the interventions are acted out.
    • The performance stage is really a snapshot of a moment in a time in dynamic process.

    2. Intervention:

    *Dependent Stage interventions. (It is a system not single thing)
    Poor to fair:
    (Basic Literacy & innumeracy, scaffolding low skill teachers, fulfilling all students’ basic needs, to bring school at minimum quality level)
    Fair to good:
    (Consolidating systems foundations, Accountability, finance structuring, Pedagogy models)
    Good to great:
    Clear cut professional system and practices in place with professional leadership and professional career for students
    Great to excellent:
    Improving through peers and innovations

    *Cross Stage interventions: Comprises group of six actions
    1. Revision of Curriculum and standards
    2. Ensuring appropriate remuneration and rewards
    3. Structure for principals and teachers
    4. Building the technical skill of principal and Teachers
    5. Assessing students, establishing data system
    6. Facilitating improvement through the introduction of policy documents and educational law.

    3. Contextualizing:
    Tailor leadership style and tactics to the history, culture, politics, structure etc of school system and nation.

    4. Sustaining: Sustaining is all about how a system puts in place the processes for ensuring improvement is continued over the longer term. It is comprised on three approaches:

    1. Collaborative Practices: It is like a user interface in personal computer as it determines how easily you can make the computer do what you want.
    Collaborative practices embed routines of instructional and leadership excellence in the teaching community, making class room practice public and develop teachers into coaches of their peers.

    2. The mediating layers: It is like operating system in PC,
    as tied closely with user interface and central processors and mediate between the two.
    The mediating layer gives three things of importance to the system
    – It provides targeted hands-on support for schools,
    – It acts as communication buffer between the school and centre.
    – Shares and integrates improvements across schools.

    3. Architicting tomorrow’s leadership: It is like a central processor in pc that ensures that what happens next time is the same thing that happened the last time.
    In a school system, the continuity of system’s leadership plays a similarly important role because the priorities, drive, mindset and of resourcing of change are highly influenced by its leaders.

    5. Ignition: Ignition describes the conditions necessary to spur a system to embark its reform journey. These conditions show remarkable consistency across all the improving systems studied.
    20 improving systems found that that there are three circumstances that regularly ignite school system reform:

    1. Political and Economic Crises: Crises of grand proportions have often been credited with jolting a change in behavior across multiple domains, ranging from national political leadership to business and cultural practices.
    2. A high profile and critical report about system performance: Public reports regarding poor students’ outcomes are another powerful source of impetus for igniting school system reform. As one Eastern Europe leader noted bluntly that sometime it has to drop bomb to move the system as well. In some cases international assessment results have played a vital role in igniting school reform system.
    3. New political or strategic leaders: as with any institution, a new leader fresh to the system has plausible deniability for past performance and so is in good position to be able to reset relations with critical stake holders. The new appointed strategic or political leaders envision about school reforms and change the scenario of school system.
    Research has also showed that upon their appointment, successful new leaders, irrespective of the system’s context, tend to follow similar “play book” of actions designed to ensure that the sparks of the reform catch a light.

    At the end I would request to Education planners( Mangement as well as political leaders ) to reflect on their own activities and programmes in view of given case studies perspective.

  5. Well-done Muhammad Ali Bai…!! You took related and serious issue of Education system in GB.

  6. It is indeed a well thought and researched article. I’d like to add three points here. Firstly, the educational institutions in public sector are not established after a need assessment, rather it is the vested interest of the political figures who want to get a contract of construction besides land compensation. Secondly, the private schools are driven by the commercial agenda without looking into the need and quality except some network schools which are community and need based. Thirdly, the enforced Urdu medium education is no more valid and effective in order to get meaningful education in science, management, global communication and other fields. Furthermore, the quality of Urdu curriculum books are neither up to the required standard nor they are updated according to the variations of the world around us. And finally, the cultural, customary and religiously claimed norms of segregating women by not promising them any opportunity of education is the greatest hurdle in the improvement of education in GB.

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