Over the past couple of months we have witnessed a spate of online and social media criticism of The Langlands School and College and a protest by some teachers in which they involved unwitting students.
Like the overwhelming majority of parents and supporters of the school I am normally silent. Most of us have busy lives and we prefer not to encourage social media nonsense by participating, and possibly adding fuel to the fire.
However, the time has now come for the silent majority to speak. Enough is enough.
My father, the late Wali Ur Rehman Advocate was one of the people who worked to start Sayurj Public School in 1988 with the Deputy Commissioner Javeed Majeed. Late Mr Muhammad Ullah Khan with four others was one of the members of the BOG at that time.
The school was started with three young English ladies and three local ladies. It grew rapidly and Mr Langlands arrived a couple of years later to take over as the second head of the school.
The school was always popular with parents and it has produced generations of successful students.
However, the fact is that the school has always come under attack by a small group of people who were opposed to its ethos and jealous of its success.
For thirty years, people have been trying to organize protests, letters and petitions against Sayurj (now The Langlands School and College). A rocket attack was launched on the Senior School damaging a classroom. Masked men, armed with Kalashnikov, broke into the bedroom of two young English women teachers. The school has always been attacked by a hostile group, and supported by the majority of peaceful Chitralis.
Throughout its history there has been a group who wanted to take control of the school. They have always wanted to dictate appointments and admissions and to seize control of the school’s assets as well as to change the ethos of the school.
And the recent controversy surrounding the school must be understood in this context. Attacks on our school are nothing new. They have been a constant feature of its life, under the first teachers, under Mr Langlands and now with Miss Schofield at the helm.
The very same group that has been behind earlier attacks on the school has played the major role in recent troubles.
Miss Schofield has always said, publicly, that she considers the teachers to be the most important asset of the school.
In 2015, by decision of the Governing Body, the school raised the salaries of teachers threefold and provided generous medical insurance for all staff and their families. At the same time, teachers who were not able to perform satisfactorily were dismissed. These former teachers have agitated against the school ever since.
The school has undeniably improved dramatically under Miss Schofield. Teachers have been monitored closely, teaching methods have been updated, the premises have been better equipped and maintained and pupils’ attendance and discipline have improved. Control of admissions has been centralized. The mood in the school has been transformed.
In a very significant move, over the last three years the Langlands School and College has established the only truly honest Peshawar BISE examination centre where cheating is impossible, in the entire district.
However, earlier this year a group of serving teachers, who enjoyed the high salaries but chafed under the school’s strict rules for teachers, began to try to persuade other staff that they could demand a government takeover of the school.
On this erroneous basis, they persuaded, hectored and browbeat other staff into joining them. In a truly immoral fashion they even agitated among the students, attempting to brainwash them against the school. Young students were told to join Facebook and social media and told to write against their school.
The sacked teachers, the ringleaders of this year’s trouble and some local politicians joined forces against our school.
After last month’s pre-planned campaign every section of The Langlands School and College is now operating smoothly. Out of a total of 54 teachers, 44 are working normally, getting on with the business of providing quality education.
Any small issues, such as arise in every school in the world, can be resolved calmly between parents and teachers and the principal. These should not be exploited to damage the institution.
The overwhelming majority of parents and stakeholders have the greatest respect for Miss Schofield and her team. Most feel that if she were to leave her job they would remove their children from the school.
We have full confidence in the Governing Body and do not wish anyone to interfere with any aspect of the school, its governance or its functioning.
Those people and parties who are trying to damage The Langlands School and College are not acting in the name of the parents or of Chitralis.
Tanzeel Ur Rehman Advocate