[Editorial] Boycott of AKESP teachers continues, plans for strike on October 16, 2010
October 11, 2010 4 Comments
The protest by 1500 teachers of Aga Khan Education Service Pakistan, in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral is continued. The protest of teachers has completed a full week and today it is the 8th day of protest, but there is not any appropriate response from the Aga Khan Education Service Pakistan, which has its head office in Karachi and is completely dominated by the community of Karachi.
Approximately more than 30,000 students are studying in the DJ schools of AKESP throughout Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. Since 1940s AKESP has made enormous contributions towards the education sector of these far-flung areas while government and private schools were not existed or were very few. In the efforts to spread the light of education the teachers and local community have also made huge sacrifices in terms of volunteer services and contributions towards building schools and generously donating land and labor.
Today the situation is completely different, the pace of development fastens in the area both in the government and private sector that has improved socio-economic conditions of the area. With this development has brought DJ schools of AKESP into competition with government schools and rapidly mushrooming private schools, it seems that AKESP has not been able to keep its pace and reform the schools with the changing needs of the area and community. That is why it is facing several problems at many fronts.
One of the major reasons for the failure of the AKESP schools in the regions is attributed to dominations over the policy, planning and executions of strategies by the non-local people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. The AKESP is out of proportion dominated by a few selected individual from the community of Karachi who said to be often in controversial engagements with the community based in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. The decision makers and policy designers from Karachi have lake of interest in the development of these schools as well as they do not have enough knowledge and understanding of the local context of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral that is instigating the failure of AKESP Schools in the region.
The current boycott by AKESP’s teacher and call for a strike on October 16, 2010 is second of its nature the other strike of the same nature held in 2008, since than there is no improvement in the conditions of the teacher and their salary. The demand of the teachers of these schools is to raise the pay and benefits to the level of pay and benefits received by government teacher. It is often blamed and found to be factual as well that the controlling administration of AKESP which based in Karachi is often pocketing huge amounts of salary and cuts have been put on the pay and benefits of the poor teachers of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral.
Another major issue is said to be that the in the whole history of AKESP there never have been any Chairman of the board or even Vice Chairman or Honorary Secretary from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. The same case is for the executive heads who are called CEO, AKESP prefers to have inexperienced Charter Accountants as CEOs but not someone from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral who do have vast educational experience and academic qualification in the relevant field of education. It is a pity that people from Gilgit-Baltistan are serving as country heads of Education Services Internationally and in Pakistan but they are not been provided the opportunity to serve in the AKESP. The reason is said to be simple as it would may curtail the dominance of Karachi based community members over the AKESP and would may create a balance of power which is undesirable for the Karachi based leadership of the community, although more than 80% of AKESP’s operations are in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. There is a high level demand from the community of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral to shift the head office of AKESP to Islamabad from Karachi which could help to develop an efficient and effective communication to ensure quality of education and resolving the issues as they arise. But again community based in Karachi does not allow this to happen, although it is reported that His Highness The Aga Khan, who is the Chairman of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and AKESP is one of its component, has asked to shift the head office to Islamabad a long time back.
No doubt the current strike brings poses a challenge to well reputed Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and more importantly is putting at risk the future of 30,000 young girls and boys of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral.