By Khalid Khattak
As per the data, Government High School, Hadali, is the oldest school established in today’s Punjab, Pakistan. Khushwant Singh, one of the finest historians and novelists of India, was a student of Govt. High School, Hadali. A fistful of ashes of the legendary writer were placed at his school in 2014 to honour his desire to be “reunited with his roots”. According to the records, the school was upgarded to high school in 1902 and Khineya Kahnd, a Hindu, was the first headmaster.
According to Hafiz Muhammad Qasim, the school’s incumbent headmaster, while the old building was still there, new classrooms and labs were added over the years. He said a new block was also under construction. He also informed that after the school’s up-gradation, Ali Muhammad was the first Muslim headmaster appointed in 1909.
It is interesting to note here that at some districts, more than one school was established in the same year. For example, Jhang district and Muzaffargarh district had four schools each established in 1850 and 1860, respectively. Credit where credit’s due, this analysis would not have been possible without Punjab government’s open data policy. Wish, we had data of all schools in Pakistan! The oldest school in today’s provincial metropolis, Lahore, is Government High School, Rang Mahal, which was established in 1850. This year is important as 13 schools were established in different parts of what is today Punjab.
The most progressive decades in terms of establishment of new schools in Punjab after 1947 have been 1967-1986. The period is significant keeping in view 1965 and 1971 wars and separation of East Pakistan. This shows the resilience of the country and the priority the then leadership gave to the cause of education.
The substantial increase in girls’ schools could be attributed to low base effect as girls schools in 1947 averaged at 29 per district, while boys’ schools averaged at 143 per district (though many of these areas were not declared districts by that time).
The analysis shows significant progress vis-à-vis female schools in some districts. For example, there were only six female schools in Bahawalnagar district in 1947 and now there are 1,175 girls’ schools. Similarly, Bahawalpur district had eight girls’ schools and it has 915 now while Khanewal had 15 schools and now it has 760. On the other hand, there are districts, which according to data, had low number of schools established each year after 1947.
As schools data of other provinces of this time-frame is not available, the analysis is limited to Punjab province only. However, according to a document of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), there were total 11,011 schools across Pakistan in 1947-48. This means almost half of the country’s schools were in the Punjab province at the time of independence.
Acknowledgement: Special thanks to friend Rana Tanveer for his constant support to Data Stories.
Very creative and informative. Sad state of public schools affairs in Punjab brought to light effectively.