Chitral schools trace history to celebrate Diamond Jubilee

30 July 2018

Very few are old enough to remember the glamour and circumstance with which Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan III was weighed against diamonds gifted to him on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee—60 years of being the Imam, or spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community.

It was a grand celebration and one where the Imam put all the gifts into projects that would benefit the Ismailis and the communities where they lived. The Aga Khan Education Services  (AKES) began as a handful of schools that were established during that time. Over 100 year later, AKES now runs over 200 schools and educational programs across 10 countries.

This year marks the close of the Diamond Jubilee of the previous Imam’s successor, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan. To mark this jubilee, students from AKES, Pakistan’s schools in the mountainous district of Chitral decided to trace the history of their schools. They found that the schools have had significant social and economic impacts since they were founded in the 1980s.

Women’s education is one of the biggest area of progress, reported students at a conference on July 5 at the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Seenlasht. In a region where girls were traditionally kept at home instead of being sent to school, graduates of the Aga Khan Schools are building successful careers after graduating from top Pakistani universities. Many have also joined the Pakistan Army.

Dr. Badshah Munir, Project Director at the University of Chitral, and Captain Siraj Ul Mulk presided as the chief guests at the conference, which was titled: Diamond Jubilee to Diamond Jubilee – A Journey of Inspiration.

Imtiaz Momin, the CEO of the AKES,P, explained that the foundations of AKES,P schools in the mountainous regions of Pakistan were laid by Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah after his Diamond Jubilee. The educational project started in 1946 was expanded and carried forward by Prince Karim Aga Khan, he said. “The great tradition of provision of quality education will continue according to the demands of the modern world,” said Momin. 

The General Manager of AKES,P, Chitral, Brigadier (retired) Khush Muhammad Khan, said the Aga Khan Development Network, of which AKES is a part, has also been working in healthcare, infrastructure development, disaster management and drinking water provision in Pakistan for the past six decades.

Dr. Munir lauded AKES,P’s instrumental role in promoting education in Chitral. He praised His Highness the Aga Khan’s role as a leader whose vision is helping the Muslim Ummah attain education for a successful life. 

Captain Mulk praised AKES,P’s work in expanding the provision of quality affordable education to students in Pakistan.

AKES,P  is amongst the largest private networks of education institutions in Pakistan. Reaching out to some of the most remote areas of Pakistan, AKES,P has been providing quality education for over a hundred years. It operates 160 schools in Pakistan with a total enrolment of approximately 40,000 students. Of these schools, 95% of them are in the districts of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral.