By Sadiq Ullah
By the grace of Almighty Allah our region, Chitral, is counted among the highly literate regions of Pakistan. According to a report Published in Dawn on Feb 5, 2006, Chitral had the highest literacy rate of 98% among the age group of 8-10. If Chitral had this much literacy rate a decade before, it means our literacy rate now is more than 100% in the same age group and more or less than 99% among the age group of 15-18. Due to this high literacy rate Chitral has a prestigious image in the eyes of national as well as international community. People consider it “the land of peace”, the hub of civilized people and colorful traditions and some people call it “the heaven on earth”. They love to visit it and be part of its beautiful cultural heritage for sometimes. People come to visit it at world level, especially on the occasion of different festivals i.e Shandur Polo Festival, Kalash festivals, etc.
Once I happened to meet a woman from Poland who was on tour to Chitral. The lady and I were travelling by the same vehicle. On the way we had conversation on different topics. I asked her what was her knowledge about Chitral? She replied in a very polite way and said in every part of Pakistan terrorist acts had occurred but Chitral was the only area that was free of the curse of terrorism. On hearing this response, I inquired from her that what was her stance about the possible factors which were protecting Chitral from the fire of terrorism? The very first factor, she said, was education. She elaborated that she had heard about the high literacy rate as well as the trend of modern education in Chitral.
People from outside Chitral have this opinion that Chitral maintains peace and integrity just because of its densely educated population. Due to this view, they respect every individual belong to land of peace.
Now the question is either we, Chitralis, are educated or only literate. There is a poles apart difference between these two terms: literacy and education. Literacy means having a sense of reading and writing and having certificates from educational institutes, while the term education means bringing the individuals to the enlightenment by changing their behaviors and thinking patterns. It would not be wrong if we call education a journey from darkness to enlighten. Educated people are those people who recognize and secure the rights of oneself as well as other people and who can distinguish among people, not in terms of social stratification but in terms of leadership and social welfare. If we probe into ourselves keeping these qualities of education and educated people before our eyes, we can never call ourselves educated. The reason is that we never get changes in our behaviors, even after doing masters, MPhil, etc. We remain conformists, conservative, mediocre and stick to those rustic, clumsy, set traditions. We can never elect sincere, honest and brave leaders because we are lacked with the ability and capability of differentiate among people in terms of leadership, honesty and loyalty. We prefer most corrupt people for the sake of leadership, especially those who belong to our castes and tribe. We do not know the real worth of our vote and we just put it to waste.
During the election campaigns I have heard many times people, educated one, saying that that they cast their votes to those who give them personal benefits, like money. It means we prefer self interest over the national interest and this is none of the qualities of educated people.
If we talk about the ability of recognition of one’s fundamental rights, we are leg behind in this field too. District Chitral is supposed to be one of the remotest areas of Pakistan in terms of health facilities, road networks, electricity, quality food, etc. Due to these poor health facilities, roads and food items hundreds of our brothers and sisters are dead on yearly bases. This is because of our defaults that we never bother to protest against the government and our elected MNAs and MPAs for the recovery of our fundamental rights. We afraid to go against our leaders and the state for the provision of our fundamental rights. We forget that if we can elect, then definitely we can also exit them too, and we also forget that we are the citizens of a state and it is state’s responsibility to provide quality heath, food, electric power and well road network to its citizens without any discrimination. These things witness that we are cowards and being coward in the matter of one’s fundamental rights is not the quality of educated people.
By keeping aforementioned arguments I would like to conclude this article that we, Chitralis, are highly literate having bachelor, master and even M.phil degrees from different national and international prestigious institutes, but unfortunately we have no education. We are only degree holders. Having a degree with good marks but no education is likely to have a body without soul and having good marks is not the educational achievement but having good ethics and awareness are educational achievements. Therefore, despite high literacy we are still uneducated.