How Swat-Kohistan lags far behind in education

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This report based on a research study on the state of education in Swat-Kohistan; and is a part of an education improvement campaign in Swat-Kohistan called Improving Quality, Retention and Access (IQRA)—this initiative is conceived and implemented by a local civil society organisation, Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT) with the financial support from the nationwide educational awareness and advocacy campaign “Alif Ailaan”. Alif Ailaan works to increase awareness of education related issues among all stakeholders – parents, providers, and politicians. It pushes rich data and evidence related debate in the public discourse and uses this to hold state officials accountable.

The target area: Swat-Kohistan

The idyllic valleys of Bahrain, Kalam and Madyan in the district of Swat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is referred to as Swat-Kohistan or Kohistan of Swat. The name Swat-Kohistan to this area was given by the Pushtuns including the first ruler of the Swat State—Maingul Abdul Wadood aka Badsha Sahib. Before that the Pukhto poet and leader Khushal Kahan Khattak also mentioned Kohistan in the Swat Valley in his famous book “Swat Naamaa”. Some historiographers and ethnographers mentioned Torwal as the name of the entire area which now makes the Bahrain tehsil or the seventh sub-division in the district of Swat. Some of them referred to the area between the Piya Khor and Kalam as Torwal. It is not the name of any administrative unit but inhabitants of the area still call it Swat-Kohistan.  Kohistan is a Persian term meaning ‘hilly area’.

Swat-Kohistan is often called to the areas and valleys beyond the town of Madyan including the Ulaal (Chail, Shanku, Bishigram) valley. According to some traditions Swat-Kohistan starts from the Piya Khwar between Fatepur and Madyan. In that case the population of Swat-Kohistan becomes more than 350,000 whereas if we consider it beyond Madyan and include the Chail valleys the population becomes about 250,000. In terms of area Swat-Kohistan becomes more than half of the entire Swat district.

Swat-Kohistan is very diverse ethnically and linguistically. It has abundant biodiversity as well.

Here live the Torwali, Gawri, Gujar, Ushojo, Qashqari (Khowar) and Pushtun communities. Torwali community is in majority here and is said to be the original inhabitant of ancient Swat along with the Gawri community. In the four union councils namely Bahrain, Balakot, Bishigram and Mankiyal of the 06 union councils of this study the Torwali community is in majority. Gawri community lives in the union councils of Kalam and Utror. Gujar community is scattered in different villages and hamlets in the six union councils with considerable number in the villages of Gabral, Peshmal, Laikot, Badai Sehrai. Khowar community mainly lives in Mitiltan along with the Gawris.

Swat-Kohistan was peacefully annexed to the Swat State by 1922 except the areas of Kalam which was under the British rule because of the claims on it by the Nawab of Dir and Mehter of Chitral.

After 1947 the area of Swat-Kohistan was of two Tehsils, Bahrain and Kalam, but recently the entire area was made a sub-division and more recently a municipality tehsil named as Bahrain Tehsil.

Bahrain Tehsil is now composed of eight union councils. This report covers six of the eight union councils. In the wake of the May 2015 elections about 230 local government representatives have been elected in the eight union councils.

Swat-Kohistan is generously bestowed with natural beauty. The area has seven beautiful sub-valleys with names as Ulaal (Chail, Shanku, Bishigram), Daral, Gurnaal (Gurnai), Kamal (Kedam), Menikhal (Mankiyal), Utror and Ushoo. The area has borders with upper Chitral, Indus Kohistan, Panjkora valley in Upper Dir and Ghizer district of Gilgit-Baltistan.

It has beautiful treks to Chitral, Ghizer, Indus Kohistan and upper Dir. The area has some of the beautiful lakes such as Mahi Dhaan (Mahudand), Saidgey, Bishigram, Kandol Lake, Daral and Shaitaan Goot.

The area becomes a tourist destination in summer. It adds some income to the meager sources of livelihood in the area. However, many people migrate to the cities in search of a livelihood.

Swat-Kohistan is beautiful with abundant resources of water and forests but majority of the people lag behind other parts of Pakistan in terms of human development.

Summary of the report

Some of the salient points of the report is presented in bullets below

  1. Schools for girls in Swat-Kohistan are very few.
  2. In the entire area there is just one high school for girls in union council Bahrain. Similarly, there are only three middle schools for girls in Swat-Kohistan; and among them one is dysfunctional.
  3. There isn’t any middle or high schools for girls for a population of about 90,000 people between the town of Bahrain and Kalam. There is no such school in the union councils Mankiyal and Bishigram.
  4. In total average school enrolment in the area the percentage of girls is 26 percent only. The ratio of male and female population is 100:96 in the area. Enrolment of girls at schools is a bit better in union councils Bahrain and Kalam.
  5. The percentage of girl students in middle or high schools is below 7 percent in all union councils except Bahrain where it is a bit higher mostly because of the private schools and the single high school for girls here.
  6. In union council Bishigram, Balakot, Mankiyal and Utror no girl can imagine of higher education as these union councils have no middle or high school for girls.
  7. By class 5th 90 percent of the girls and 47 percent of boys leave schooling altogether.
  8. The attendance of students at all schools in the union councils Kalam and Utror; and the villages of Peshmal, and Laikot remain almost zero in the months of March, April and mid-May because of the seasonal migration majority of the people of these areas undertakes.
  9. Teachers’ absenteeism in male teachers at the primary school is higher than that of female. It is 25 percent whereas in female teachers it is 20 percent. Alarmingly, absenteeism among female teachers in union council Bahrain is about 40 percent.
  10. 1n 100 middle and high school teachers about 69 are non-local.
  11. Surprisingly, in Bahrain union council the percentage of non-local female teachers at the primary school is 60.
  12. In Swat-Kohistan the number of female teachers is less and almost all the primary schools for girls have one teacher each.
  13. The Student-Teacher ratio for girls’ primary school is 1 teacher to 84 student on average whereas in union councils Balakot, Utror and Kalam this ratio is 1 to 125, 108 and 102 respectively.
  14. Percentage of the vacant sanctioned positions in the teaching cadre in the area is 45, 35 and 34 in the primary schools for girls, primary schools for boys and middle and high schools respectively.
  15. 16 out of a total 55 primary schools for girls are dysfunctional whereas one is damaged and another one is still shelter less. 07 of the boys’ schools for boys are dysfunctional whereas 07 are without any building and 02 are damaged.
  16. The higher secondary school in Utror could not be made functional to date. Similarly all the high schools in the area are under staffed.
  17. 82 percent people opted to send their daughters or sisters to primary schools. Only 05% of them says education for girls is against their culture or faith.
  18. 83% people opted for sending their sisters or daughters to middle or high schools. Only 09% thinks sending girls to middle or high schools either against their culture or faith.
  19. Majority of the people engaged by the Swat-Kohistan Education Campaign says they want to send their daughters or sisters to schools but the government has not made enough or functional schools for girls in the area.
  20. The teachers complained about the one-teacher schools and termed this as demanding more than their capability.
  21. The teachers face terrible hurdles in teaching 06 classes in just two rooms in majority of the primary schools.
  22. The female teachers expressed their agony in going to faraway schools as the area lacks proper roads and transport. The union councils are also scattered over hills and large swaths of land.
  23. Many of the schools don’t have proper boundary walls. Many parents are scared to send their daughters or sisters because of the lack of boundary walls.
  24. Most of the chairmen of the parents’ teachers’ councils (PTCs) don’t have any idea even about the jointly operated bank account. They also don’t know their duties and powers.
  25. Many teachers complained that the frequent changes in the curriculum affect not only their ability to teach but also put hurdles in the learning by the students.
  26. The non-local teachers from out of Swat-Kohistan say they and the students face tremendous challenges as neither they nor the students understand each other languages.
  27. The parents appreciate the monitoring of the teachers and suggested that the government should also think of evaluating the teaching quality of the teachers. Mere administrative measures will not help.
  28. Some teachers were very resentful of the ‘illegal’ transfers of fellow teachers by the education department officials and say it creates many issues for them.
  29. Many parents and teachers suggested that the students’ home language should be made medium of instruction at the early grades. They think that IBT can help the government develop course in the children home languages for the early grades.


    1. People recommended that campaigns like the IQRA must be carried out constantly. They said women should also be engaged in such initiatives.
    2. The number of the primary schools for girls must immediately be increased to equal to the number of the primary schools for boys.
    3. Middle schools for girls need to be established in the larger villages such as Chail, Shanku, Bishigram Satal, Ayeen, Lagan, Darolai, Gurnai, Torwal, Kedam, Ramet, Mankiyal, Balakot, Badai, Laikot, Peshmal, Biyun, Ashrun, Kas Kalam, Mitiltan, Gabral, Gulshan Abad and Gujar Gabral of Swat-Kohistan.
    4. At least each union council must have one high school for girls.
    5. Degree colleges need to be established in Bahrain and Kalam.
    6. The number of high schools for boys must be doubled in the area.
    7. Swat-Kohistan needs to be given the status of “Hard Area” with especial quota for the students in every department of Swat and Peshawar University; and the selection criteria for the appointment of teachers must be relaxed a bit so as to appoint more and more locals in the teaching and other professions.
    8. The scope of appointment of female teachers must be narrowed down to village levels as the area is too scattered and the union councils are demarcated unevenly.
    9. All the sanctioned vacant positions in the teaching cadre of every level must immediately be filled; and other teachers must be appointed to the one-teacher schools.
    10. The building of all the primary schools should be expanded to 07 rooms.
    11. People said that education has yet to take the position in the list of their priorities. They say that they often hold Jirgas on the occasions of elections or the distribution of royalty from the forest but they never hold any such Jirga on the deplorable situation of education or such other means of development. They recommended that drives like the IQRA must continue till education becomes one of their top five priorities.
    12. The teachers face many challenges in teaching especially teaching English or in it. They need continuous training and English learning to overcome the deficiencies.
    13. The higher secondary schools in Mankiyal, Kalam and Utror must immediately be fully staffed.
    14. Government High School Bahrain must immediately be up-graded to the status of higher secondary school with science classes.
    15. The annual and emergency repair and maintenance funds must be utilized fully with full transparency and accountability.
    16. There needs to be some arrangement for the children of the people who do seasonal migration from Utror, Kalam and nearby areas.
    17. There must be established a middle and high school in Satal or nearby in the union council of Bahrain.
    18. Curriculum for the early two grades in the primary schools must be in the children home language. Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT) can help develop textbooks in the home languages of the children.

Details of the report

Number of total schools in Swat-Kohistan

Enrollment in govt. primary schools

Enrollment in govt. middle schools

Enrollment in govt. high schools

Teacher to student ratio

Drop-outs rate in primary schools boys

Drop-rate in primary schools girls

Drop-outs rate in middle schools (boys)

Drop-out rate in middle schools (girls)

Drop-outs rate in high & higher secondary (boys)

Drop-outs rate in high & higher secondary schools (girls)

Students’ absenteeism

At primary schools (boys)


[i] This survey was conducted in March and April 2015

Students absenteeism in primary schools (girls)

Absenteeism in teachers

Percentage of non-local teachers in Swat-Kohistan

Percentage of vacant teaching positions in the area

People’s perception about girls education

Our surveyors 1,185 people four questions. These questions were:

  1. Do you want to send your daughters and sisters to school?
  2. If you don’t want to send your daughters and sisters to schools, why?
  3. Do you want to send your daughters and sisters to middle & high schools?
  4. If you don’t want to send your daughters and sisters to schools, why?

Surveyors and Social organizers

  1. Rizwan Torwali—Union Council Bahrain
  2. Asghar Khan, Ajmal Khan—Union Council Balakot
  3. Ghufran Ullah—Union Council Bishigram
  4. Amjad Ali—Union Council Kalam
  5. Ziaur-Rehaman, Aftab Khan—Union Council Mankiyal
  6. Saeed Roshan—Union Council Utror

Written and analyzed by

Zubair Torwali


Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT) publishes the report. It is the property of Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT) and Alif Ailaan. All the copyrights are reserved with the two organizations.

Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT)

Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT) is an indigenous local civil society non-governmental nonprofit organization established by the few youth of the Torwali community in Bahrain in 2007.  Its mission is “to transform the most neglected sections of Pakistani society especially the marginalized ethnic groups living in northwest Pakistan into developed communities by the active participation of people without any gender, racial and religious discrimination.” IBT also works for the preservation and promotion of the lesser known languages spoken in north Pakistan. The main office of IBT is in Bahrain Swat.


During past two year the former government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa appointed teachers in all over the province including this area. This might have addressed the issue of non-availability of teachers, especially in the primary schools, to some extent. The government has also provided funds for the betterment of infrastructure in the existing schools. This might has also improved the physical conditions of the schools. But no new school was established in this area against the pressing needs of more schools, especially middle and high schools for girls, in the area.


We have tried our level best to see and analyze the situation objectively. Chances of biasness is minimized. The information presented in the report is the one we got from the schoolteachers, general public, the respective Parents Teachers Councils, civil society and the Jirga members in the villages.

Education department was requested multiple times for providing the official information they have but each time our request was ignored. We, however, got the details of the Parents Teachers Councils from the Additional Sub-Divisional Education Officer but rest of the information he didn’t share. We, however, thank him for providing this information.

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