A Blow to Education in Chitral

By Maj (R) Javed Khan Tareen (36 PMA)Pic of Maj javed Khan Tareen, retired PIA Pilot

Editor’s Note: Maj (R) Javed Khan Tareen’s parent unit is 45 Fd Regt Arty, he joined Army Avn in 1969 and later joined PIA as a commercial pilot. After the retirement from PIA, he has settled in Islamabad.

Chitral, the remote and picturesque mountainous district of KPK, has been for some time now fortunate to have a quality private school for its boys and girls and the level of education imparted there could be compared to any international standard. This school began on the initiative of the old ruling family of Chitral when some of their ladies gave their time, effort and private funds. They also invited young teachers from England who were family friends to start the venture which was named Sayurj Public School (Sayurj means eagle in Khowar language). Soon this became an establishment which attracted more funds from local and foreign philanthropists considering the romantic and historic background of this once princely state.

This was in the late 1988 and because of the Jihad going on next door in Afghanistan, Chitral featured prominently in the foreign press. The religious fringe which never had much say in Chitral also started making inroads and soon the usual cases of intolerance and bigotry started to surface. The religious right consider secular education as the biggest threat to their dogma and this school was soon in the cross hairs.

Photo of Major Geoffrey D. Langlands The provincial administration took over the school but agreed to a Board of Governors who favored a well-rounded education. A retired English Don who had long taught at Aitchison College Lahore was invited to become the Head Master and the Board of Governors agreed to change the name after him, as he yielded clout with old Aitchisonians who were in prominent positions, and thus the flow of funds increased, a new campus came into being and the school was named Langlands School. However, Major Geoffrey D. Langlands was already an old man well into his 80s and easily came under the influence of the provincial government despite the school having a Board of Governors. Later, the school was upgraded as a college.

Photo of Langlands School & College, Chitral

Aerial view of Langlands School & College, Chitral

This was the time when MMA ruled the then NWFP and soon the school had a lot of Jamaati teachers on the staff and the school started to fail. Parents lost interest, the standard of education slipped with the students losing heart and it became the usual sad story of another educational institution sacrificed to religiosity. It is to the credit of prince Siraj ul Mulk of Chitral who persuaded Langlands to retire who then shifted to Lahore to live on the premises of Aitchison College. Prince Siraj ul Mulk also happens to own and run one of the best hotels in the world, Hindukush Heights, who has played host to Hollywood greats like Robert De Niro, most foreign ambassadors credited to Pakistan, as this hotel is the only one in Chitral with the standard enjoyed by international dignitaries.

Pic of Ms Carey SchofieldAfter the retirement of Langlands, a very capable and highly qualified English lady was invited in 2013 to take over as the head. Carey Schofield (author of many books, including, “Inside the Pakistan Army: A Woman’s Experience on the Frontline of the War on Terror”the incumbent Principal has done wonders for the school, to her credit fearlessly she sacked all those teachers who were not performing, it came as no surprise that most of them were members of the Jamaat-e- Islami. Backlog of fees that had not been paid was collected and in a short period of one year the school became a center of educational excellence.

Photo of Ms Carey Schofield and Geoffrey D. Langlands in Chitral

She has not drawn a salary since starting work, her dedication and the achievement of imparting education is her only reward. After the PTI run government came into being, their coalition partners, the Jamaat-e-Islami, have made it their mission to influence education because that is where you seed your ideology. Langlands School & College is under pressure to take back all the Jamaati teachers, the local DCO in Chitral, a Jamaati appointee, is the instrument of their influence and a campaign to remove Carey Schofield has been mounted. Cleverly they have employed the help of Langlands who in his late 90s is a senile old man who does not even remember his own name but has influence with old Aitchisonians like Imran Khan and Chaudary Nisar Ali Khan (Federal Interior Minister).

Picture of Geoffrey D. Langlands with Imran Khan

Fabricated stories have been fed against the incumbent Principal and without approval of the Board of Governors the DCO paraded Langlands in Chitral and quoting his preference appointed a new head at the same time blocking the renewal of Ms Schofield’s visa. Besides gaining control and destroying this institution the DCO and his party are eyeing the considerable funds that the Langlands School & College has generated from donors and parents alike.

The present situation is a stalemate as the parents and students of the Langlands School & College have refused to accept this change and threatened not to allow the school and the college to reopen unless Carey Schofield is re-instated. The recent Local Bodies elections have been won by the Jamaat candidates and with their own man as the DCO one does not need to be a clairvoyant to guess which way the wind is blowing in once peaceful and idyllic Chitral.

Related Page:
Photos of Chitral
Pakistan Army Blog (Retired Officers)

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  1. Maqsood Choudary says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Several of you have asked for approaching the leaders from different political shades, I beg to differ with this approach. Doing so will further politicize the situation. The school has its own Board of Governors. Let us strengthen their hands to counter the politicalization of an educational institution. I have very strong feelings that institutions should have precedence over individuals. Individuals come and go, they can be good and not quite good, but the institutions persist and further stabilize the situation and for a longer period to come.

  2. Lt col (R) Ghulam Jilani Khan says:

    Why a British Principal needed for this far flung Citral school? Why not a Pakistani Educationist is called upon to fill the slot?There are many capable names. Please contact HRD Dte GHQ or Federal Ministry of Education, Islamabad for help/cooperation.

  3. Maj (R) Munir Ahmed ( 2nd SSC ) says:

    Dear Maj Javed,
    Very disappointing and unfortunate state of affairs but I am sure as the things are moving in the country, the sanity shall prevail (InshaAllah).

  4. Maj (R) Aziz-ur-Rehman, Air Def (15th War Course) says:

    With a Board of Governors being in place and Prince Sirajul Mulk being a native overseeing the affairs of the institution, it shouldn’t have been difficult to improve things when Chairman PTI Imran Khan, CM KPK Parvez Khattak and federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan all using their clout, could bring it out of dire straits.

  5. Col Muhammad Ali Badsha (retd) says:

    Javed Bhai,
    The only viable safe exit is to convert it into a Cadet College and place it under the Chitral Scouts.
    With Prayers.

  6. Rehana Akram says:

    So sorry to hear this state of the school , so many institutions have been destroyed by these greedy politicians.

  7. Lt Col (R) Col Qadeer Ahmad, Punjab (2nd SSC) says:

    PTI is solely respinsible to ruin the system/merit of this school. Let be the responsibility with Board of Governers. The things would be alright, InShaAllah.

  8. All round regretful state of affairs.

  9. Lt Col Ikramullah Khan (Retired) says:

    Dear Sir,
    The matter should be taken up with Imran Khan, Pervaiz Khattak and Ch. Nisar, all from Aitchison Collage. to put things in right order. The DCO to be transferred ASAP and let the institution be run by Frontier Corps, KPK.

  10. H Cooper says:

    Dear Major Tareen,
    As one of those donors who sent money in support of this school since Ms. Schofield became the Headteacher, I am so sad to hear about this development. The history of this School and its former Headmaster touched the hearts of many people here in the UK after an article in the Telegraph raised it’s profile. For the sake of the students I hope that common sense will prevail.
    How despicable to manipulate Major Langlands if, as you say, he is suffering from dementia. I do not personally know either Ms. Schofield or Major Langlands but their endeavours have been inspiring.

  11. Maj (R) Mumtaz Bashir (40 PMA) says:

    I would request Chairman PTI, Imran Khan, for his personal interest and intervention. Education and specially an instution of an international standard in the far-flung area like Chitral is a too valuable an asset to let go wasted and destroyed like this. A board of responsible people at provincial level must be formed for a detailed investigation and to decide about it’s future control and adminstration. Religiously motivated political parties have their agenda, the institution should be kept above political influence of any type. A long drawn-out permanent policy must be formed free from the changing political influences.

  12. Arshad Durrani says:

    We now have mastered the ‘art’ of destroying all that is good.

  13. Col (R) Shah Alam, Avn (34 PMA) says:

    Thanks for this excellent update, Javed.

    We have long been aware of the extraordinary services rendered by Maj Langlands and this article educates me on yet another icon – Ms. Schofield. It’s so painful to read how the noble efforts of such dedicated and selfless teachers is being blunted by petty minded politicians whose sole effort is focused on denying rather than providing first rate education.

    Rest assured such negative efforts will not last nor succeed. If the school and its goal has survived so many uphill battles and opposition in the past, it will surely overcome its current difficulties too, Insha’Allah.

    Please convey my best wishes and appreciation to Siraj for his herculean efforts in keeping the project going under great adversity.

  14. The PM office shall immediately intervene.

  15. Maqsood Choudary says:

    Major Tareen,
    Thank you for bringing up the issue of deterioration of a well established school in a remote corner of Pakistan. Langlands School is not the only one polluted by Jamaat-e-Islami, their venom has almost entered every school, college, and university of Pakistan. Now I can easily say that it is in the body-politic of Pakistan given the large number of Jamaatis in the higher echelons of civil-military bureaucracy. It is a matter of shame for all of us that the party which opposed creation of a separate homeland for sub-continent Muslims, and used all type of names for its leaders has now become the champion of religious righteous, ideological boundaries, and Thekedars of Pakistan.
    There is a Punjabi expression “Ujday Baghaan day Gallahar Patwari” (the squirrels become the owners of deserted/rundown orchards). It is a literal translation and may not convey the true spirit of this expression but I find myself incapable of translating it given its heavy cultural baggage of centuries.
    Well! what can I say or do other than crying from inside.
    Editor, If you find my comments a little slanted, please feel free to expunge these. I understand that this website takes a non-political approach and my sincere most apology for taking this route. Thank you and keep up the good work.

  16. Dear Maj Javed,
    I pray the sanity prevails and the higher ups of KPK government allow this college to progress.

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