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head teacher




30 June 2000


During this testimony, carried out in English, Khaliq, a head teacher, shares his extensive experience of and views on education. He obtained further education in Karachi and describes his experiences of living in the city, as well as discussing how attitudes to education within the community have changed. He feels that people are keener to educate their children: “the people are now thinking that if you want a good lifestyle or a good position in the society, so we have to educate our children.” He says that enrolment levels are equal for boys and girls, but laments the fact that most girls do not continue their education beyond the eight years provided in the village: “after eight, nine years of hard work with the students, they just become normal villagers and they don’t study further.”

He provides an interesting insight into changing teaching methods, explaining how he was influenced by a course he attended in Lahore. Whilst he used to rely on learning by rote, he explains, “Now I think that we cannot memorise everything… the best way or the best approach would be to let the student experience and when they will experience something it means they will remember it forever.” He also describes the Environmental Education Programme that they set up following a visit to the area by Japanese students.

Khaliq has been involved with the Shimshal Nature Trust (SNT), and is evidently passionate about it. In the latter part of the interview he discusses how it was formed following the community’s opposition to the Khunjerab National Park. The aim was to prove that the community itself is the best manager of its land and protector of the wildlife. He talks with pride about their work and explains how it is to “prove in a good way and with wise decisions that we are not doing anything harmful against the environment, we are not doing anything illegal but we are supporting the government.” He emphasises that the SNT does not aim to replace other organisations but “is to support every institution in the village.”

He concludes the interview saying “when I was a child, we were depending on all the products we were producing here. But right now we are half depending on the city and half we are producing here so this is a big change here. And before people had no idea but right now our people from Shimshal have been everywhere in the world, before we were limited up to Shimshal.”

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  His family: there are 10 in his family including his three children. At the time of the interview his wife was taking care of their livestock in the pastures.
Section 2  Discussion of the pastures. Reasons for going to Lupghur rather than main pasture Pamir: “one, we can go to Gilgit and on the way we can touch the Lupghur people – the family members…The second is that there are a few people there…there is no crowd.” Childhood memories: “we used to play a lot, as compared to my own children now. Because [now] we force them to go to school and study…”
Section 3-4  He went to the pastures in the summer months with his mother. When 14 or 15 he worked in the fields with his father. Changing nature of childhood: “nowadays people are emphasising education … And nowadays there is less work, for children to do, but in the olden days when we were children we used to work a lot.” Discussion of his education – schooling in Gulmit. He worked for the Survey of Pakistan and then went to Karachi to study for FA intermediate exams (higher secondary school certificate – Faculty of Arts).
Section 5  Return to Shimshal: “my parents…did not allow me to go back to Karachi. They thought that I should support them and they asked me to look for a job.” Became a teacher in Shimshal. Experience of Karachi: “When I arrived in Karachi that was quite surprising; lots of traffic and a lot of people, countless people and the noise…But … I started to go to college so that made me forget all about the bad things and I just had one target: to get an education.” Maintained contact with village and sent them information on scouting.
Section 6  Comparison of life in Karachi and Shimshal: “in Karachi everyone cannot be friendly so you cannot trust everyone in Karachi. But in Shimshal you can… Here is clean air … but Karachi city is quite polluted.” Lived with other students from Shimshal: “…when we get together we always talk about the pastures and the village and these things.” He has been teaching for 12 years: “I think now it is my life job to teach.”
Section 7  Wanted to go to Canada to study further but couldn’t get a visa. Spent time teaching in Gojal, says “they have a road so they can get every facility. They can go to school by van easily, but we don’t have those facilities here. So we have a lack of rooms and resources.” But felt a responsibility to teach in the village: “because we have to work for the village. And without education we cannot compete or face the world.” People in Shimshal now take an interest in education because their Imam (the Aga Khan) emphasises it and because “people here in Shimshal who got education, got good positions in the society”
Section 8  There are currently more girls enrolled in school than boys. Not everyone feels the same: “those people who have many yaks, and a big herd and a lot of land, their children are not so active in education”. After class eight students have to leave the village to continue with further education. Not many girls do this due to difficulty of finding places to stay and pressure to marry.
Section 9  Benefits of education up to eighth class: “they can teach their children, they can teach their relatives, they can manage better their household…” Hopes to send his children to university. Last year he did a diploma in education in Lahore that completely changed his approach: “Before I was strict on teachers to teach according to my wishes. Now I learnt that every person is different and their approach could be different…I used to force my students to learn everything by heart” but realises that “learning will occur when they experience it.”
Section 10-11  The Environmental Education Programme - they were inspired by visiting Japanese students. The programme started with guest speakers visiting the schools, “But we decided that this is just a kind of dictating to the students and we thought there should be, we should give an opportunity for the students themselves to learn about the society.” They developed questionnaires and students join committees studying different subjects. Last year the students presented their research in Gilgit to the government education department, AKES (Aga Khan Education Service) and WWF (World Wildlife Fund) who were “surprised and a bit shocked. The surprise was that such a remote village has promoted such a good environmental project…And they were shocked that they haven’t done anything like that themselves.” Shimshalis have given workshops to others on how to initiate environmental education programmes. He also works for the SNT.
Section 12  Community opposition to the Khunjerab National Park, which was seen as depriving them of their ancestral grazing lands. Role of the SNT: “the …idea which we developed was that we should make such an organisation and we should prove that we are the best managers of this land, so we promoted the Shimshal Nature Trust and we wrote the management plan.” Ambitions for the SNT: “I hope that one day SNT will teach other communities about how to preserve their environment or how to make development projects, how to make the list of priorities.” Relation of SNT to other institutions in the village.
Section 13-14  SNT proposed a ban on hunting. His father was initially hostile and said “What are you thinking?… our entire family in the history, all of them have hunted and we are proud of being hunters, because we have fed the villagers…” But after discussion his father was won round. Memories of scouting: “we did a lot of work in the community and people appreciated us. And we were young and we felt proud of these things and those were the happiest moments.” Changes in the community.