Challenge of marketable education in Chitral
Chitral happens to be one of the more literate Districts thanks to the strategy of improved access but once that level had been achieved there was a need to change the strategy focusing on quality. This realization unfortunately dawned on the stake holders at a much belated stage. As a result marketability of Chitrali educated youth on well paying jobs stood gravely undermined. Failure to get white collar jobs pushed many young people into drug addiction. While AKESP focused on access, Government teachers were more interested with service benefits without giving quality. Cheating in examinations, booty mafia and politicization of education system became hall mark of the education scene.
With the dictates of job market leading to the opening of Langland school and Pamir education system, offering English medium education, quality started to come into focus and more such schools including the reputed higher secondary school system of AKESP came into being. However despite the availability of these quality institutions, the students, owing to the lack of confidence in themselves and career counseling, avoided competing for top jobs in the Government and corporate sector. Mercifully this mindset was more prevalent in few areas including Lotkuh and Arandu while in the rest of Chitral students successfully competed for commissioned jobs and corporate executives. The Shaheed Deputy Commissioner Osama Waraich, the best thing to have happened to Chitral after a long time, wanted to open an academy in Chitral with the help of NGOs to prepare Chitrali youth for competitive jobs. Hopefully his successor will carry this project forward as a tribute to the departed soul.
It is a measure of the intellectual bankruptcy of our leaders that they handed over SBBU to Dir on a silver platter for personal favours from Najmuddin. This University was meant for Chitral, which had more than 50 degree colleges while Dir had only three degree colleges. Tugged away in the narrow gorge of Sheringal this University may not endure but it did provide opportunities for infrastructure development and jobs to the local people. Chitral has no significant representation in its work force despite constituting 80 % of its student population. In the absence of affordable avenues for higher education, vocational and technical education could have been viable alternatives but these were not pursued.
The two Poly-technics established in Chitral in the recent past have remained unstaffed, with one of them having been taken over by Abdul Wali Khan University for its sub campus without the approval of SBBU which was a legal requirement, thus opening a Pandora box with regards to legality of its degrees but no leader has cared to address this issue, which might well put future of many students at stake. Meanwhile Chitral students seeking vocational and Poly-technic education are compelled to go to Peshawar. Our girl students have been kept in a hostel in Hayatabat on the boundary of the tribal belt where cases of lawlessness are driving out many of these students. Authorities concerned have been approached to look into the issue of safe accommodation for these students. But the question still remains as to when our own two Poly-technics will be commissioned? In terms of employability, time span and cost effectiveness, technical and vocational diplomas are more important for Chitralis than higher education producing unemployed graduates and post graduates. One can only hope that current strategies for poverty alleviation will sponsor establishment of such an institute preferably in partnership with Pamir Educational Society which has already signed an MOU with an Islamabad based consultancy firm to start skill development programs in its Booni and Garam Chashma campuses
Regarding higher education the Government of KP has expressed its intention to establish university at each tehsil and there should be no difficulty to get one for the entire District on priority basis provided our leadership rises to the occasion. Such a university should be named Pamir International University offering its services to the students of the entire Pamir region, well known the world over for its unique culture, traditions and history. — Islamuddin, 08 Jan 2017