[Editorial] Boycott of AKESP teachers continues, plans for strike on October 16, 2010

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.

4 Responses to [Editorial] Boycott of AKESP teachers continues, plans for strike on October 16, 2010

  1. Ismail Khan says:

    Thinking that AKES has played exemplary role in educational development of Gilgit-Baltistan stretched over half a century since 1940s. The current events are highly disturbing.
    Changed times needs changed policies, it could be the best time for AKESP to rethink its strategy and take into confidence the stakeholders. I hope for AKESP it would not be very difficult to work on.

    Ismail Khan
    Islamabad

  2. rehmat karim says:

    People dont uderstand. AKESP had done great job, every one in Gilgit-Baltistan and people in the world say AKESP give educations to many people and poor people. This is what is truth. AKESP can do better changing policy and with participatory approach. Rehmat Karim

  3. Head Teachers says:

    Most AKES,P schools in Gilgit-Baltistan have been functioning as usual and teachers are busy with their day to day school activities. While teachers have certain grievances that need attention by the AKES,P management, most teachers and head teachers of AKESP do not think that strike action and depriving children of education, is the manner in which these issues should be resolved.

    On Friday 8 October 2010, a representative group of our teachers and head teachers from Hunza, Gilgit, Punyal, Ishkoman, Gupis and Yasin had a detailed meeting with senior members of the AKES, P Board of Directors, the CEO, Presidents of the Regional Councils and the management team at Gilgit- Baltistan to discuss the latest strategic developments in the organization.

    The leaders and the management, present in the meeting, highly appreciated the efforts made by the teachers and head teachers of Diamond Jubilee (DJ) schools in providing quality learning opportunities to students in the regions. The teachers were assured that the organization at the highest national level has been heavily engaged in deliberations on improving the quality of life of its teachers, including improving remuneration, professional development and retirement benefits. The basic objective of these deliberations was to ensure that teachers of AKES, P schools are able to concentrate fully on their professional responsibilities.

    Teachers shared their concerns and issues with the high management. Those present in the meeting shared their experiences and also forwarded several recommendations to improve teaching and learning in schools and to cater for the needs of individual teachers. The meeting ended on a positive note as teachers realized that management is seriously considering the recommendations and suggestions of the teaching staff. There is absolutely no truth in the comment that the teachers have called a strike on 16 October as all the teachers are continuing their routine work with the same spirit and professional zeal. During the meeting, the representative group of teachers, on behalf of the teacher community (of DJ schools) assured the AKES,P leadership and management of their continued dedication.

    As a champion of change and trend setter in education especially with regard to female education, AKES, P is proud of its presence in the region since the time when Pakistan as a country was just at the stage of conception. The DJ schools have a long history of successes in providing educational opportunities to children from poor and deprived families residing in mountainous areas and facing climatically rough conditions. The hallmark of AKES,P is its emphasis on girls’ education specially in remote and far flung regions where access to education is a key problem coupled with lack of awareness and scarcity of resources. Many females who have studied in Aga Khan Schools are today serving in leadership positions within the AKES,P system. The communities participate equally in the governance and management affairs of all these schools. The teachers of AKES, P will continue to work together with AKES,P management and governance in its endeavour to improve education and to professionalise the teaching profession so that the children of Gilgit- Baltistan prosper in the future.

    Group of Head teachers from AKES,P

  4. A.Hussain says:

    Hello guys,

    I appreciate your kind efforts. Come up with more details about G-B Times. we would love to hold a joint venture.

    Peace,
    A.Hussain

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