Few movements in the world had that substantial clarity about creating alternatives as the Khudai Khidmatgaar Movement (servants of God) and its predecessor the Tehrik-e-Islahul Afaghina (movement for the reformation of the Afghans) had developed. One of the major reasons for the unprecedented clarity of objectives and strategies of these early 20th century movements was that these socio-political movements sprang from the soil but had also a robust understanding of the movements of the particular era.

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, alias Bacha Khan, (February 6, 1890– January 20, 1988) initiated the Khudai Khidmatgar Movement in 1928 after expanding the scope of earlier collective effort under the banner of Tahreek-e-Islah-ul-Afaghina started in 1921.

The Khudai Khidmatgar Movement built on the earlier discourse of Khushal Khattak, linking the Pakhtun cultural distinctiveness with the indigenous wisdom and identity of Gandhara Civilisation and connected it to modern civilisation, on the other.

The British Empire had, by then, carved Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the Pakhtun belt as a strategic space to keep Afghanistan under its thumb to repulse a probable onslaught, first by the Tsar of Russia and, later, by the United Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR).

Books by the colonial writers had started pouring in, depicting the Pakhtuns to be ‘uncivilised’, ‘noble savage’, ‘ungovernable’, ‘militant’ race. The Pathan, magnum opus by Sir Olaf Kirkpatrick Kruuse Caroe (1892–1981), is well known for such construction. Later, national and international works on Pakhtun’s society, culture, and anthropology have largely borrowed from Caroe for the depiction and construction of the Pakhtuns as an ethnic and cultural entity.

The Khudai Khidmatgar Movement constructed discourse of human dignity, pluralist democracy, and indigenous wisdom and identity as a foundation for its cause of socio-political, socio-cultural, and socio-economic transformation. The Khudai Khidmatgar Movement stood for Pakhtunwali to be a dynamic code that has incorporated almost every step of civilisational march of humanity in the last several decades.

The Khudai Khidmatgars asserted that poetry, art, literature, architecture, music, and dance have been inseparable parts of the code of Pakhtunwali that could be retraced over the last several centuries. They also pointed out that the dynamic aspect of the code is usually ignored when it is brought under discussion by the academics and media around the globe.

The Khudai Khidmatgar incorporated all the ingredients of a modern movement by working in social transformation through education, cultural revival, and promotion through advancing indigenous languages, literature and arts, and political empowerment through the non-violent struggle for independence and political reforms for the then North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The Khudai Kidmatgars opened dozens of community-based independent schools across the length and breadth of the then NWFP. They gave space explicitly to vocational groups and women and celebrated diversity of nature, religions, lifestyles, and languages. The alternative education model developed by Baacha Khan and his fellows back in the 1920s instilled the spirit of inquiry, arranged for teaching of indigenous skills, arts and crafts. This model helped in the construction of a discourse of independence on the one hand and equipped the young generation with modern skills, knowledge and attitudes on the other hand.  

The Khudai Khidmatgars introduced skills that promoted trade and commerce in the Pakhtun belt. They simultaneously struck at the roots of tribal ego and colonial representation of Pakhtunwali in the form of behavioural change and brining about awareness for hygienic living standards.

The Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation (BKTEF) is the continuation of the educational movement of Baacha Khan and the Khudai Khidmatgaar Movement[1].  The Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation (BKTEF) is a not for profit and non-partisan organization registered in Pakistan under the 1961 Social Welfare Act in Pakistan and with the Ministry of Education in Afghanistan. It envisions a pluralist, peaceful and civilized society which is connected with the indigenous wisdom of the soil and modern civilization simultaneously. 

The BKTEF works for social transformation through education and youth leadership programs. It envisages an education model that nurtures critical and creative faculties, multiple skills development, civic and aesthetic consciousness and environmental consciousness. The BKTEF alternative model also includes a culture educational model consisting of visual arts, performing arts, crafts and folklore. The BKTEF has implemented the critical model of education at 15 Secondary Baacha Khan Schools across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata where some 7000 children are getting education under the supervision of some 300 teachers. Each Baacha Khan School has a computer lab, a well-equipped science lab and a section of psychological counseling. The teaching learning methodology is activity based, academic environment is completely free of violence and academic administration is participatory.

A three layered monitoring and evaluation system has been put in place to achieve the desired results. Community Education Committee for each Baacha Khan School, academic experts of the head office and a computer based Management Information System carry out quarterly evaluation of all Baacha Khan Schools. Every teacher at Baacha Khan School takes quarterly refresher course in pedagogy, psychological counselling and objectives of the BKTEF.  

The BKTEF has put in place a transparent financial system with regular internal audit, a regular annual external audit and annual review of the audited accounts. The BKTEF has an independent governing body having eminent intellectuals, social workers and professional experts as its members. Over the past three consecutive years, all Baacha Khan Schools have demonstrated 100% results with 80% students in A grades in the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education. Two students of Baacha Khan Schools have been selected for Kings College University Canada on full scholarship. Students of Baacha Khan Schools have brought trophies from the Asian Declamation Contest held in Bangkok Thailand. 

Besides, the BKTEF has trained some 5000 youth in human rights, pluralism, Khudai Khidmatgaar Movement and political thought over the past five years.


[1] Please see www.bkefoundation.org

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