The Langlands School and College – motto There is always room for improvement – is a private school in the peaceful and beautiful Chitral District, in the upper reaches of the Hindu Kush in northern Pakistan. The first private school in Chitral, it educates about a thousand pupils, aged from four to eighteen, on four separate sites in and above the town of Chitral.
The school (then called the Sayurj Public School) was started in September 1988 by the local Deputy Commissioner, Javed Majeed in the guest quarters of his official residence.
The school’s first teachers were young English women whose enthusiasm, energy and commitment are still gratefully remembered in Chitral. These young women were not trained teachers but they set high standards and gave the school a solid foundation. Many of them, including Sophie Swire, Juliette Seibold (former head teacher) and Henrietta Miers have remained in touch with the school and with former pupils over the years.
In 1989 Major Geoffrey Langlands arrived to take up the helm. He was already a well-known figure in Pakistan, having taught for many years at Pakistan’s leading public school, Aitchison College in Lahore and then serving for almost a decade as principal of Cadet College, Razmak in North Waziristan.
When the Major arrived in Chitral the school had 80 boys and girls aged five to ten years old, from nursery to Class 4. There were by then about six teachers, including three Chitralis.
Under Major Langlands’ direction the school grew steadily, with a new class added to the school each year. Class 5 was added in 1990, Class 6 in 1991 and so on until the school developed to its present size. About a third of the pupils are now girls.
For the first few years of the school’s life all the teachers were women. In 1993 Major Langlands inducted male teachers to teach science subjects and the majority of teachers in the senior school are now men.
Major Langlands was a staunch advocate of education for girls in Chitral, insisting on teaching them up to the age of eighteen. He encountered stiff opposition to this plan but he eventually convinced local leaders and people that society needed educated women. Girls are taught separately in the senior school, but they enjoy access to all the school’s facilities.
Pupils from the Langlands School and College are doing well in their further studies and in their chosen professions. Many have completed their studies at top universities in Pakistan and abroad, often with scholarships and bursaries. The school has produced lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants, army officers, businessmen and others who are already serving their country with distinction.
Students of the Langlands School come from a variety of backgrounds. Many of their families are not rich, and make sacrifices in order to educate their children. The fees cannot be set too high in area such as Chitral where incomes are generally modest.
Despite its proven record of success, therefore, the Langlands School and College needs help urgently.
Investment is crucial to maintain and upgrade the buildings, to improve the facilities and to equip the school to deliver the first-rate education that its pupils deserve.