Choosing the Best School: Parents’ Muddle
In fact, parents pay special concentration on their children’s learning. They prefer those schools fostering the child academic and social capital. Simultaneously, being engulfed with numerous schools chains, it becomes very difficult for them to choose a school which could complement their thoughts. The situation in Gilgit-Baltistan is little deviating due to certain geographical and contextual realities, but overall the situation is much similar to other parts of Pakistan.
Let’s explore the possible choices in Gilgit-Baltistan territory. The leading schools are directly backed by government education department, providing a vital role to improve students learning, ensuring no child left out of the schools. For that the system provides necessary infrastructure with academically-competent faculty (teachers) and head teachers. Through internal and externally-sponsored professional development prospects, they pay special concentration on developing teachers’ competencies in pedagogical content areas to improve students’ learning outcomes. Such joint efforts have seen to produce an upward improved trend in academic progression of children’s learning during the last few years. For instance, there are schools who compete and many of them have won certain national awards too.
The second layer of educational providers are private schools. They are also grouped in multiple categories. Some of the these schools are system-based schools serving in specific contexts, including AKESP, USWA and AL-Mustafa schools, followed by community-based schools offering limited services. Madrassa schools operate in certain contexts, solitary self-owned schools and home schools for female folk offering basic education services in very limited areas. In addition, certain Public schools, cadet colleges and police-managed schools also provide educational services, but mostly the existence of these schools is limited to urban settings.
AKESP, one of the prominent private systems offer quality education in rural and urban contexts of Gilgit-Baltistan. It offers formal services in three districts Gilgit, Hunza and Ghizer, besides supporting other community-based schools in different valleys and districts of GB. This system offers multi-prone approaches to improve the academic learning of children, opting education in these schools. For that it has introduced the concept of higher secondary schools, model schools and other valley-based schools to offer education to masses reside in far-flung and remote contexts. This approach seems to have produced greater outcomes as the graduates of this these schools profoundly compete with certain national and international podiums. This system also pays special emphasis on developing the professional teams in schools through organizing capacity-building courses to teachers and head teachers in various content and pedagogical areas by offering internally-planned and externally-supported capacity building opportunities.
The USWA school chains and Al-Mustafa schools operate in certain districts of Gilgit-Baltistan. These schools are independent and directly supervised by well-developed management systems. They also function through donations and collecting academic fee structure by students. Through various professional development opportunities, they also develop the capacities of teachers, who could serve in more meaningful ways. In the past, these schools also show an improved academic progression regarding students’ learning outcomes.
Similarly, community-based schools exists in several districts of Gilgit-Baltistan. These schools are not fully supported by any central systems. Mostly, the local communities run these kind of schools by generating indigenous available resources in the form of academic fee and seeking donations from local or international contributors. These schools, comparatively are vulnerable to changing circumstances as there seemed a frequent teachers’ turnover ratio due to certain financial issues and seeking for better job opportunities.
Public schools, cadet colleges and police-managed schools mostly operate in urban locales. Besides providing educational services to armed forces children, these schools are open to general masses who could meet the eligibility criteria and minimum standards. Besides providing improved facilities, they also charge affordable fee from the students and provide improved education through qualified teaching faculty. Due to greater niche, the schools are gradually increased in different districts of Gilgit-Baltistan.
The self-owned schools are run by certain limited individuals. These kind of schools are directly run by internal management bodies. They are registered and approved by government education department but being independently-managed, no any systems directly facilitate them. They generate their own resources by collecting a bigger amount of academic fee, induct quality teachers and invest internal resources to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Another layer of schools exist in the form of home schools and schools operated by Madrassas. The concept of home schools is operational only in Diamer district to provide basic education to female students. This approach has also seemed effective as the number of female students show an improved progression year wise. The Madrassa schools are sponsored externally by certain donations, besides generating local finance through students’ academic fee which is minimal compared to other private schools. They also induct trained teachers and pay their concentration to provide secular and religious education to learners.
As discussed, there are manifold kind of schools, operate in Gilgit-Baltistan contexts. Therefore, Parents have a growing array of options in choosing a school. Simultaneously, the extent of these available options also varies from village to village, district to district and across various regions. Multiple inviting options by each system has also increased the complexity for parents and caregivers in selecting a particular school which could best address their demands.
As a conclusion, Gilgit-Baltistan terrain is richer in offering educational services to its inhabitants. All the operating school chains have their own pros and cons, but all strive to provide quality education for learners. Hence, it becomes very challenging job for parents to choose a particular school. It is recommended that they must scrutinize school situation by examining resource provisions, access and approaches to quality education in these schools. Therefore it becomes prime responsibility of the parents to carry out a careful planning before opting the best school for their children.