Pak Army’s significant contribution to education in AJK

The military has long been acknowledged for its role in defending nations and safeguarding their interests. However, beyond its traditional security functions, the military also wields significant influence in shaping societies through its involvement in the education sector. From providing access to quality education in underserved areas to cultivating discipline and leadership skills among students, the military’s contribution to education is diverse and impactful. One of the primary ways in which the military contributes to the education sector is through the establishment of schools and educational institutions, particularly in remote or conflict-affected regions where educational access is limited. These military-operated schools not only deliver quality education but also serve as hubs for community development, offering opportunities for skills training, vocational education, and adult literacy programs. Additionally, the military frequently collaborates with civil authorities and educational institutions to implement initiatives aimed at enhancing educational outcomes and addressing specific needs within the education system. This may encompass efforts to improve teacher training, develop curricula, and enhance infrastructure, thus enhancing the overall quality and efficacy of the education sector. Beyond providing access to education, the military also plays a role in instilling values such as discipline, respect, and civic responsibility among students. Military-run educational institutions often integrate elements of military training and leadership development into their curriculum, enabling students to cultivate vital life skills and character traits that are beneficial both inside and outside the classroom. Furthermore, the military can serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for students, particularly those hailing from marginalized or disadvantaged backgrounds. Through initiatives like career guidance, mentorship, and scholarship opportunities, the military provides students with avenues for success and upward mobility, empowering them to pursue their academic and career aspirations. Alongside its direct involvement in education, the military supports educational initiatives and outreach programs, partnering with schools and universities to offer scholarships, internships, and educational resources to students interested in military or related fields.

In Pakistan, where obstacles such as poverty, regional disparities, and security concerns often impede access to quality education, the Pakistan Army emerges as a significant catalyst for positive change in the education sector. Through a variety of initiatives aimed at widening access, enhancing quality, and promoting community development, the Pakistan Army plays a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s future by investing in its most valuable asset: its youth.

One of the most noteworthy contributions of the Pakistan Army to the education sector is its establishment of a network of schools and colleges across the country, particularly in remote and underserved areas. These institutions, known as Army Public Schools and Colleges (APSACS), offer high-quality education to students from various backgrounds, including the children of military personnel and civilians. With an emphasis on academic excellence, character development, and extracurricular activities, APSACS are renowned for nurturing well-rounded individuals equipped with the skills and values necessary for success in life.

Additionally, the Pakistan Army has initiated numerous efforts to improve educational infrastructure and resources in conflict-affected, disaster-prone, or socio-economically disadvantaged areas. Through initiatives such as the Army Public Schools and Colleges System (APSCS) and the Army Welfare Trust (AWT), the military has constructed schools, libraries, and vocational training centers, providing communities with essential educational facilities and opportunities for skills development. Moreover, the Pakistan Army is actively engaged in enhancing the quality of education through initiatives focused on teacher training, curriculum development, and educational technology. By investing in the professional development of teachers and educators, the military aims to raise teaching standards and pedagogical practices, ensuring that students receive a high-quality education aligned with international standards. Furthermore, the Pakistan Army plays a crucial role in promoting education as a catalyst for community development and social cohesion. Through outreach programs, scholarships, and youth engagement initiatives, the military empowers students from marginalized and disadvantaged backgrounds to overcome barriers to education and pursue their academic and career aspirations. By fostering a culture of learning and empowerment, the Pakistan Army contributes to building resilient communities and fostering national unity.

Nestled in the scenic Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) boasts a vibrant culture and resilient population. However, like many regions worldwide, AJK grapples with significant challenges in its education sector, particularly concerning children. From inadequate infrastructure to socio-economic disparities, addressing these issues is crucial to ensuring that every child in AJK has access to quality education and the opportunity to realize their potential.

One of the primary hurdles confronting the education sector in AJK is the insufficient infrastructure, particularly in rural and remote areas. Numerous schools contend with deteriorating buildings, overcrowded classrooms, and a deficiency in fundamental amenities like electricity, clean water, and sanitation. These circumstances not only impede the learning process but also jeopardize the safety and well-being of both students and teachers. Additionally, the quality of education in AJK often suffers due to outdated curricula, inadequate teacher training, and a scarcity of educational materials. Many educational institutions struggle to attract and retain qualified educators, especially in subjects such as science, mathematics, and English. Furthermore, socio-economic disparities pose significant obstacles to education in AJK, with poverty, unemployment, and limited access to essential services hindering children’s attendance or causing premature dropout rates. Cultural norms and attitudes towards gender and education may further discourage girls from pursuing academic endeavors, exacerbating disparities in access and outcomes. Natural disasters and conflict also present challenges, with the region’s susceptibility to earthquakes, floods, and landslides disrupting schooling and damaging educational infrastructure. Additionally, the ongoing conflict in occupied Jammu and Kashmir heightens security concerns and instability, complicating efforts to ensure a safe learning environment for children.

Despite these challenges, initiatives are underway to address the issues plaguing the education sector in AJK. Governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and international partners collaborate to enhance infrastructure, bolster teacher training, and promote inclusive access to education. Efforts also focus on curriculum revision, the introduction of innovative teaching methods, and the expansion of vocational and technical education opportunities to better prepare students for the workforce. However, rectifying the problems in AJK’s education sector demands sustained efforts from all stakeholders. It necessitates investment in infrastructure, resources, and teacher development, alongside policies and programs prioritizing equity, inclusivity, and quality. Furthermore, engagement with communities, parents, and students themselves is vital to ensure their needs are addressed and their voices heard.

In the scenic region of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the Pakistan Army emerges as a transformative force in the education sector, significantly expanding access, enhancing quality, and fostering community development. Through various initiatives and collaborations, the Pakistan Army’s dedication to education in AJK has profoundly impacted the lives of numerous children and communities.

One remarkable facet of the Pakistan Army’s involvement in AJK’s education sector is its establishment and management of a network of schools and colleges throughout the region. These institutions deliver high-quality education to students from diverse backgrounds, including military personnel’s children and civilians. With modern facilities, proficient faculty, and an emphasis on holistic development, APSACS have set a new benchmark for educational excellence in AJK. Moreover, the Pakistan Army has undertaken extensive efforts to enhance educational infrastructure and resources in AJK, particularly in remote and underserved areas. Through initiatives like the Army Public Schools and Colleges System (APSCS), the military has erected schools, libraries, computer labs, and vocational training centers, granting communities access to vital educational facilities and opportunities for skills enhancement. In addition to broadening educational access, the Pakistan Army is actively engaged in enhancing the quality of education in AJK. Through endeavors focused on teacher training, curriculum development, and educational technology, the military endeavors to ensure students receive a comprehensive education that equips them for success in a rapidly evolving world. By investing in the professional growth of teachers and educators, the Pakistan Army is reinforcing the educational framework in AJK and enabling teachers to provide high-caliber instruction to their students. Moreover, the Pakistan Army’s involvement in the education sector transcends classroom boundaries, encompassing initiatives aimed at fostering community development and social cohesion. Through outreach programs, scholarships, and youth engagement initiatives, the military empowers students from marginalized and disadvantaged backgrounds, enabling them to surmount barriers to education and pursue their academic and career aspirations. By nurturing a culture of learning and empowerment, the Pakistan Army is cultivating resilient communities and fostering national unity in AJK.

The list of work done by the Pak Army in AJK’s education sector is extensive, and it is heartening to highlight here some of the key projects. In the backdrop of the “Parha Likha Lipa Drive,” renovation and uplifting of Read Foundation Middle School Lubgran-DSS commenced in February 24. In a short span of time, the school building underwent upgrades facilitated by 653 MR/75 Bde, including painting, installation of a Main Gate, preparation of Model classrooms and new stairs, leveling of the ground, installation of educational charts, construction of cemented link pathways between classrooms, overall building maintenance, and preparation of lawns & plantation in the schoolyard. Additionally, 830 MMRA/6 AK Bde oversaw the renovation of a Madrassa at Bhont Bazar, where whitewashing and distempering of the building were carried out. Furthermore, 646 MR/75 Bde conducted renovation work at Govt Boys Pilot High School in Lipa, including distempering of the building. In Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), there is one cadet college, while in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), there are four. AJK hosts 28 Army Public Schools (APS), accommodating a total of 19,604 students, supported by 1,330 teachers and 467 ancillary staff members. Additionally, AJK is home to five Federal government Education Institutions catering to 2,266 students, along with two special education institutions situated in Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot, serving 57 special students. Recently, the Arfa Karim one-month Pilot Project, offered free of cost at APS Hjira, concluded on March 22, 2024, with 120 students and local youths attending the course physically, and 38 individuals participating online. An extension phase of the paid course, spanning three months, is scheduled to commence from May 24. Furthermore, efforts have been made to provide free internet services at four locations, establishing freelancing hotspots at the University of Poonch Rawalakot, Neelum University Athmuqam, APS Athmuqam, and APS Bagh.

Readers, these examples are just a glimpse of the remarkable work carried out by the Pak Army in the education sector of AJK, while the detailed list is considerably extensive. The active participation of the Pak Army in providing educational facilities in AJK is highly appreciated by the people of AJK. Both the people of Pakistan and AJK are grateful to the Pak Army for their practical contributions towards the betterment of society.

Abdul Basit Alvi
Abdul Basit Alvi
The writer is a freelance columnist

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