The historic government school in Khairpur that has given to us several civil servants and elected representatives has now been handed over to an NGO in hopes to improve its management.
Formed in 1906, Government Naz Pilot Secondary School, Khairpur, which has 2,300 students from class six to 10 and over 100 teachers, will now be run under the administrative control of Book Group, an organisation working to improve local textbooks.
The agreement came about after the Sindh education secretary, with approval from the chief minister, signed a memorandum of understanding with Book Group. The idea was to improve the quality of education and provide missing facilities to the school with funds given by the Sindh government, said Khairpur’s district education officer Mehrunnisa Malik.
The Book Group is already working on many projects in Sindh and the Punjab, said Malik. “I am hopeful that Book Group will bring positive change as the quality of education is on the decline and that is alarming for us,” she said.
The news of an imminent transfer of authority did, however, not go down too well with the current administration, who complained they were not consulted. “We do not know about the terms and conditions of the agreement reached between the two parties,” said the school’s in-charge headmaster, Sarae Sajjid Hussain, who was recently replaced by Jameed Ahmed Bozdar. “One is for sure, and that is, our jobs are at stake.”
However, Sukkur Division Commissioner Muhammad Abbas Baloch told The Express Tribune that there were no threats to the teachers’ jobs. “This step is being taken in the larger interest of education,” he said. Hussain also pointed out that the school boasts of teachers who are proud to be a part of this institution and are extremely dedicated. They held protests and sit-ins, and were assured by the education officers that the transfer will improve the quality of education. “We will have more facilities,” he said the teachers were told.
However, Hussain felt the ‘need for funds’ can no longer justify handing over the administrative control. “All the vocational facilities available at the school were withdrawn one-by-one due to a lack of funds,” he said. The hostel was handed over to Pak-Turk school in 2000 for 10 years but, 14 years later, it has yet to be handed back, he added.
Malik, the education officer, dismissed these reservations and pointed out that the school still remains government property. Commissioner Baloch also said the school has not been handed over to Book Group. “They will supervise the teachers for some time and then move on to another project,” he said.
The Book Group also plans on being just a helping hand to the management and the teachers. “We are not new to this field,” said Book Group chairperson Sami Mustafa, adding that they have completed such projects in Karachi and Lodhran in the Punjab. “Our agreement with the Sindh government is for 15 years, during which we will provide facilities to different schools,” he explained, adding that they are not empowered to sack any teacher. “Rather, we will provide them training on modern ways of educating.”
Some of the changes that Mustafa has planned for the Khairpur school include new textbooks in the Sindhi language. He claimed they are far better than the traditional ones as they are more colourful and easier to read. The NGO will also improve the condition of the school building, provide sports facilities, computer laboratories, libraries, better furniture and, above all, good and clean toilets, he said.
Allah Dino Sial, Khairpur State education minister and former Wapda chairperson
Hashmat Singh, All India scout commissioner
Ghulam Asghar Vendiar, former inspector schools, West Pakistan
Illahi Bux Khamisani, former high court judge
Abdul Raheem Kharal, former high court judge
Pir Illahi Bux, former Sindh chief minister
Syed Ghous Ali Shah, former Sindh chief minister
Syed Qaim Ali Shah, current Sindh chief minister
Ghulam Rasool Siddiqui, former senator
Ali Dino Panhwar, former education secretary, Sindh
Manzoor Hussain Wassan, current minister, Sindh
Ali Aslam Jaffery, retired Sindh High Court judge
Ghulam Hussain Jaffery, education director, Sindh
Badaruddin Zahidi, federal government secretary
Mazharul Haq Siddiqui, former Sindh University, Jamshoro, vice-chancellor
Price to pay for education
Government Naz Pilot Secondary School, Khairpur, was built in 1906 by the ruler of Khairpur state, Mir Ali Nawaz aka Naz Talpur. The school offered free education to all its students and even offered free hostel accommodation and food to those coming from far flung areas.
Naz Talpur’s grandson Mir Imam Bux Talpur spoke to The Express Tribune about the pro-education policies of the rulers of the independent Khairpur State. “My grandfather was a literary person and a poet, which is why he was given the nickname ‘Naz’,” he said, adding that Naz Talpur ruled the state until his death in 1935.
The education-loving Talpurs established several schools in Khairpur, Kot Diji, Gambat, Faiz Ganj, Pir Jo Goth, Piryalo and other places, he added. The Talpurs were very strict about every child in the state going to school. So much so that the parents who failed to send their children to school were fined four annas (one-quarter for a rupee), remembered Imam Bux. The Talpur rule came to an end in 1955 after which all educational institutions came under the government.
The school is spread over 68 acres, out of which 14 acres are developed as agriculture land. The school became the first facility in Sindh where pilot projects for agriculture, wood work, electricity, poultry and others were started in 1960, during the era of former Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan, according to the school’s former headmaster, Sarae Sajjid Hussain. He recalled how students in the poultry class were taught how to prepare their own incubator to produce chicks from eggs.
The agriculture students were taught how to prepare land for sowing. In fact, the 14 acres dedicated for this training had two bulls to level the land, Hussain said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2015.