By Shakeel Ahmed
Majority population in Gilgit baltistan still lives in villages and so the topic of rural education in region is of utmost significance. A surveys shows that even though the number of rural students attending schools is rising but more than half of the students in fifth grade are unable to read a second grade text book and are not able to solve simple mathematical problems. Not only this, the level of maths and reading is further diminishing. However efforts are being made, they are not in the right way. The purpose cited for this problem in surveys is the growing number of single classroom to educate students from more than one grade. In some backward areas attendance of teachers and students is also deteriorating. These are a few reasons why schools have failed to educate rural GB.
Quality and access to education is the main alarm in rural schools as there are fewer loyal teachers, lack of appropriate text books and learning material in the schools. Though Government schools exist, but when related to private schools then quality is a major problem. Mainstream of people living in villages have understood the prominence of education and know that it is the only way to get rid of poverty. But due to lack of money they are not able to send their children to private schools and hence depend upon government schools for education. Above that in some of the government schools there is only one teacher for the whole school and if they don’t show up at work then it is a holiday. If the worth along with number of teachers and, that too committed teachers can be enhanced in these schools, then aspiring rural children and Gilgit Baltistan can fulfill their visions of doing something great.
Some government schools in rural areas are overly crowded with students, leading to unfair teacher student ratio. In one such remote village in District Ghangche there are more than 300 students in class X which makes closely 100 students in each classroom. In such a situation it is terrible for teachers to pay full consideration towards each and every student, even if they are willing to help out.
Every village is not facilitated with school which means that students have to go to another village to get education. Due to this parents frequently do not send their daughters to school, leading to a failure in accomplishing rural education in Gilgit Baltistan.
Poverty is another obstacle. Government schools are not as good and private schools are costly. So the drop-out-rate at the secondary level is really high in townships. Only parents who have the funds for college education send their children to secondary schools. If parents are not able to send their wards for higher education then all their previous struggles get fruitless as completing just secondaryeducation means a little paying job and the person is again hit in the same never ending cycle of money,, life and poverty.
Most textbooks are in English and subsequently people in rural areas either speak their inherent language but not English that defeats the determination. However some of the students from villages are indeed brilliant as they have a wealth of practical and theoretical knowledge and know how to stay alive even in very tough environments of life, lack of accommodations and their poverty are obstacle in their education.
Quality related problems are far powerful than poverty. Students are not at all cheered to think but they are asked to memorize pre-defined questions for exams. So for many learners clearing examination at the end of the session, passing their exam becomes more important than gaining knowledge. Also as per the new Government rule every student is supposed to be promoted to the next class regardless of marks in their exams. Hence mainstream of students do not bother to study, which means a decline in their education level. Neither students nor teachers take any attention in studies which is why the level of education is decreasing in Gilgit Baltistan backward areas, despite many efforts.
The foundation to turn GB into a strong region has to be laid down at primary and rural levels and so the worth of education right from the foundation should be excellent. Education and text books should be made thought-provoking. For rural students textbooks related to their history, ethos, their traditions and values should also be there so as to create their interest in lessons. The reasons behind so many drop-outs in spite of free education should be found out as this is a obstacle on the road to development. Upgrading in the condition of government schools, education quality, dedicated teachers and more pays to these teachers should be part of development.
There is a difference between urban and rural community student not in terms of brain or development but their initial environment, skills, learning ability, availability of infrastructure, and access to different accommodations. All of these must be careful while making the curricula which should not be different but how it is going to be taught would make the difference. Encourage the genuine rural students who are interested in education and make them competent. There are many examples of success in rural education in Gilgit Baltistan like many students get fully funded international government scholarships in different countries every year. These are advanced and successful examples of schools running in rural region.
It is the time to replicate such efforts as our region and its rural populace is very vast which means one of two stories of these kinds won’t make any difference. Instead of this large number of such schools are required in rural Gilgit Baltistan. It is also categorically compulsory to evaluate the success of the schools and students at each and every level. Timely assessment will throw light on present problems and accomplishments. Let us try to build a solution around these problems which will resolve the general issues of rural education in Gilgit Baltistan.