History of Education in the Kalash Valleys

When I first arrived in the valleys there were only government Muslim schools, to which a few Kalash children went, with very few progressing beyond the 8th or 10th grade.

Shakil Durrani, former DC of Chitral, who then became Culture Secretary, Commissioner of the Malakand, Chief Secretary before then going on to become federal secretary in Islamabad also became the Main board member of the KALASH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION SOCIETY, in 1993. Before that, however, in 1990, he and the Canadian Government asked me to supervise and monitor the first Kalash Govt school. This was a primary school with a Kalash teacher. The Canadians also funded me to start health education in Bumburet which I then took on to Birir. Although there was no problem making it into a Govt school, there was a big one when it came to actually constructing a building.  Although I was in charge, I did not have the purse strings, as, at that time, I was a person without an organisation.

Although the village community and the school teacher were fine people, I did not trust the contractor who came from outside the valley. I was sure there was going to be rank corruption and told Durrani and the Canadians they should not build the school. They took my advice, and the school continued in a rented building. Then the Greeks came and filled the vacuum. My teaching had finished in Bumburet so I was not aware of what was happening in the valley as I had no vehicle at that time and communications were poor.

The Greeks built the school and Bumburet ended up with two good buildings for two Govt schools and then the Greeks went on to build a small one in Rumbur which was also taken over by the government. Many people, and I am one of them, did not like most of the things the Greeks did, but they did improve the education.

During the nineties there were people, including Hungarian Anna, who were trying to make a written language out of Kalasha with a Latin script. This had been pioneered by some Australian missionary linguists. I tried to raise funds for the venture, but it was too costly, or rather the proposal was including westerners coming to Pakistan. In the event the Kalash themselves were doing very well with the script, until Election or Lection Bibi as she was known later, pirated the book and published it under her own name and dedicated it to Musharraf!

 The new school in Birir under construction.

That brings us up to the present time. In all three valleys there is only one High School which is in Bumburet. In Birir, the people also wish for another Middle school.

The biggest problem is the quality of teaching. I am of the firm belief one of the future things HKCA should do is to select worthy candidates, say three or four, and fund them for teaching training.


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