Pakistan’s most prestigious institution Aitchison College is in news for a reason that shows how ugly the country’s education system can be.
The school’s principal has been confined to the perimeter of the campus bungalow for the last 30 days after a bitter falling out with the board of governors.
The governors’ object to the reforms he carried out, as that led to grandchildren of some influential persons in the country out from coveted places. What’s shocking is that the court, too, is against the principal. According to The Guardian
, Agha Ghazanfar, a former bureaucrat and a distinguished academician, is banned by a High Court order from running the Aitchison College.
He was fighting a legal battle against the decision of college to sack him seven months into his role as the head of the institution. The Lahore High Court initially rejected the dismissal of Ghanzanfar but later on ruled that he could not continue his job while legal process action completes, but could use his official residence. The court has also ordered him to not even walk inside the campus or on its lawns. Ghazanfar has now taken the task of writing a “prisoner diary”.
Aitchison was established by the British in 1886 to teach sons of princes and remains centre of country’s elite. Imran Khan, cricketer turned politician, is an alumni of this prestigious college.
Ghazanfar alleges that the college is “rife with corruption, mismanagement and nepotism”.
“Before I came I was told the biggest challenge will be withstanding the pressure of politicians, rich businessman, people who command huge amounts of resources because the tradition was that seats could be purchased.” Ghazanfar told The Guardian. His predecessor, too, had stepped down amid controversy about the entrance exam result rigging in favour of the children of the powerful alumni. A last moment change in a supposedly leaked exam paper ensured clean results but resulted in grandchildren of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, billionaire banking tycoon Mian Mansha and the recently unseated speaker of the national assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq missing out on a place.
L-R Ayaz Sadiq, Miyan Mansha and Yousaf Raza Gilani, the men whose grandchildren couldn’t make the cut at Aitchison because of Gazanfar’s exam system.
From here started the principal’s troubles. His services were terminated without notice and while he was on a holiday in UK. The board is staffed with the alumni. Sadiq, whose son Ali Ayaz Sadiq is a board member, told Pakistani TV that Ghazanfar was guilty of corruption and misconduct. Ali Ayaz Sadiq denied he had used his position on the board to intervene for the sake of his son. Many elite parents of Lahore said that Aitchison is a school in decline, with academic results that have fallen far behind other less famous private schools. It is still, however, the most prestigious school of Pakistan.