Celebrating 70 years of Gilgit-Baltistan Schools

The first Diamond Jubilee schools were built in the 1946, after Aga Khan III, Sir Sultan Mohamad Shah, announced over the radio from Bombay that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan should invest more in education.

Those first schools were not the Aga Khan Schools that dot the landscape of Gilgit-Baltistan today (106 in total), many of them custom-built with well-equipped libraries and laboratories with solar panels powering computer labs, all set in lush gardens. Diamond Jubilee schools had humble beginnings, starting out in Jamaat khana (Ismaili community centre) rooms and verandas. Often, classes were held under the open sky in summer moving inside in winter. One teacher, himself rarely a high school graduate (there were no female teachers then), would teach all the grades with a few books to share amongst as many as 100 students. The students were almost all boys.

The need for quality education was so great that a small grant, intended to establish just two schools, was stretched to setup approximately 42 schools.

Over the years, schools for girls were established and thus began a focus on women’s education. Today, more than half of the 40,000 students studying in AKES,P schools are female, and Gilgit-Baltistan enjoys among the highest literacy rates in the country.

The year 2016 marks 70 years of progress for Aga Khan Schools in Gilgit-Baltistan. To celebrate the occasion, we would like to share 7 stories of challenges, successes and growth.


28 December 2016
One person’s service to education: A veteran teacher
Forty-three years are not enough to make some people tired of teaching. One such person is Martabah Shah, who retired from Diamond Jubilee (DJ) Middle School, Gitch (Gilgit-Baltistan) after teaching for 43 years. He says with a smile, “I could still keep going.”
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28 December 2016
The success of women against the odds: Educate a woman, educate a community
Former head of Diamond Jubilee (DJ) Learning Resource High School (LRHS) Chatorkhand, Chashman Bibi, and current schoolteacher at the DJ Middle School Sultanabad, Zareena Begum, have inspiring stories. 
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27 December 2016
Ambitious for education: The importance of Village Education Committee
Hadi Husain is an army retiree, and served on the Village Education Committee (VEC) for the Diamond Jubilee (DJ) Learning Resource High School (LRHS), Chatorkhand (Gilgit-Baltistan) from 2004 to 2008.
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26 December 2016
Impact of education on women: An empowered woman’s journey
Gulnara Kamal, head teacher at Diamond Jubilee (DJ) Middle School, Gitch (Gilgit-Baltistan), put in years of hard work and resolve to get where she is today.
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25 December 2016
The change brought about by education: A whole new world
Musa Khan is one of those teachers who have dedicated their lives to educating children in their communities.

[ Read ]

23 December 2016
Community-led school construction: The self-help approach
The first Diamond Jubilee (DJ) schools began in 1946 and were conducted in available spaces in Jamaat khanas (Ismaili community centre), under open skies, in communal kitchens and in guesthouses.
[ Read ]

22 December 2016
The changing face of education
It was in 1997 when the landscape around education changed. New training programmes were introduced and leadership building was conducted. 
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