Geoffrey Douglas Langlands CMG, MBE, HI, SPk (21 October 1917 – 2 January 2019) was a British educationalist who spent most of his life teaching in and leading schools in Pakistan, instructing many of the country's elite. In World War II he served as a Major in the British Army, and afterwards in the British Indian Army, where he worked to keep the peace during the partition of the British Indian Empire in 1947.[1] He transferred to the Pakistani Army at the birth of the country, and returned to a career in education, first of army officers. Then, at the invitation of the President, he joined the so-called "Eton of Pakistan", Aitchison College in Lahore.[2] After 25 years there, he left to lead a military high school, Cadet College Razmak.[3] He ended his career by taking on a new school in Chitral and raising it to internationally high standards; he continued to lead it into his 90s, when it was renamed in his honour Langlands School and College.[4][5][6][7][8]

Geoffrey Douglas Langlands

Geoffrey Langlands in 2012
Nickname(s)Major Langlands of Pakistan
Born(1917-10-21)21 October 1917
Kingston upon Hull, England, United Kingdom
Died2 January 2019(2019-01-02) (aged 101)
Aitchison College, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Allegiance United Kingdom
British Indian Empire
Pakistan Dominion of Pakistan
Service/branch British Army
 British Indian Army
 Pakistan Army
Years of service1939–1953
Battles/warsWorld War II
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
Order of St Michael and St George
Order of the British Empire
Other workHeadmaster Aitchison College
Principal Cadet College Razmak
Principal Langlands School and College

Early life edit

Langlands was born in 1917, with a twin brother,[9] in Hull, England, to a father employed in an Anglo-American company and a mother who was a classical folk dance instructor. His father died in the 1918 flu pandemic[10] that killed millions worldwide. His mother then took her children to her parents' home in Bristol.

She died of cancer ten years later, as soon thereafter did the children's grandfather,[10] leaving Langlands and his siblings without any living relatives. He was given a free place at King’s College, Taunton (a private - i.e.fee-paying - school) by its headmaster, a family friend.[11] His older brother received a scholarship to an orphan school in Bristol, and a family friend helped secure positions for the other children.[12][13][14]

Career edit

Military career edit

In July 1935, Langlands completed his A Level education and began his teaching career in London, the following year at age 18.[citation needed] In September 1936, he was a mathematics and science teacher to second grade students in a school in Croydon.[14] When World War II began in 1939, Langlands joined the British Army as an enlisted soldier. In 1942, Langlands became a commando and took part in the Dieppe Raid.[12]

In January 1944, Langlands arrived in British India as an army volunteer on a troop carrier and worked three years as part of the selection board for officers training in Bangalore. Rising to the acting rank of troop sergeant major, he received an emergency commission in the British Indian Army as a second lieutenant in the Garhwal Rifles on 3 September 1944.[15][16] After Bangalore, Langlands was stationed in Dehradun.[17] He was promoted to temporary captain on 28 July 1945, subsequently transferring to the 14th Punjab Regiment.[15] During the partition of the sub-continent in 1947 when India and Pakistan became independent nations, Langlands decided to move to Pakistan and was transferred to Rawalpindi where he joined the Pakistan Army.[18][19]

Teaching career edit

Aitchison College
Chitral in summer

Langlands began his career in Pakistan by working as an instructor for the country's newly created army. He selected and trained officers for approximately six years.[citation needed] Upon the completion of the contract with Pakistan Army, British Army troops began to leave the country, and Langlands had to decide what to do next. Ayub Khan, then President of Pakistan, asked him to stay and teach, which he immediately agreed to do.[20]

He devoted the next 25 years to the so-called "Eton of Pakistan", Aitchison College in Lahore,[20] teaching mathematics to "upper-crust young Pakistanis destined to lead in business, politics and the army"[21] and rising to be the college's dean[22] and headmaster of its prep school.[3]

In 1979, the Chief Minister of the Northwest Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) offered Langlands the post of principal at Cadet College Razmak in North Waziristan.[3] IN April Langlands joined the Cadet College, which had been created only the year before,[23] and served until September 1989.[24]

In late 1989, Langlands took charge of the first private school in Chitral, which was later renamed Langlands School and College in his honour.[20] The school, founded in September 1988 by local Deputy Commissioner Javed Majeed,[25] grew steadily under his leadership. From 80 pupils it grew to 800, about a third girls, and many won scholarships to universities.[20]

Langlands served the school for the rest of his life. He suffered a stroke in 2008, which hastened the search for a replacement. By the time Declan Walsh reported on the man and the school in 2009, it was clear that standards had slipped, and the financial situation was parlous; the district's top official said Langlands was ""A brilliant teacher but not a good manager."[21] Eventually another principal was found, and Langlands reluctantly agreed to move to grace and favour accommodation on the grounds of Aitchison College, as it was thought that he could do more good for the Chitral school by fundraising in the capital.[10] At the age of 94 in September 2012, he moved back to Lahore.[26]

Langlands disagreed with some of the changes his successor - also a British citizen - began to put in place.[27] He attempted to prevent Carey Schofield from doing her work by asking a former pupil, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, the Interior Minister, to deny her a work visa.[28] Eventually scores of the college staff boarded a school bus for the 1000 km drive to Lahore, where they met with Langlands and persuaded him to allow Schofield to continue her work.[28]

He turned 100 in October 2017, which was celebrated with a party which many luminaries attended, as reported in Dawn.[29][30]

Death and legacy edit

Geoffrey Langlands died at the age of 101 in a hospital in Lahore on 2 January 2019 following a brief illness.[31][32] Al-Jazeera called him one of the country's "most respected educators"[33] The BBC said his "death [sent] a whole country into mourning"[20]

Many of his students, especially those from Aitchison College, rose to high places. One of those was the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan. In a tweet he paid tribute: "Apart from being our teacher, he instilled the love for trekking and our northern areas in me - before the KKH (Karakoram Highway) was built".[34] Other former students include Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi[citation needed] and Aleem Khan.[22]

Aaj News called Langlands "a phenomenon":

Generations of Pakistanis owe their education to him. In a career lasting 60 years, he has sought to maintain the ethos of the English public school in an alien land, long after the sun set on the empire he served. Britain has changed out of all recognition since Langlands departed its shores in the middle of the Second World War to serve with the Indian Army. By going away and staying away, his old-fashioned brand of Britishness, involving service rather than gain, has been preserved.[9]

Recognition edit

See also edit

  • Hugh Catchpole – British educator who lived in Pakistan
  • Ruth Pfau – medical doctor who served leprosy patients in Pakistan
  • Hal Bevan-Petman – English artist who lived in Pakistan and painted many famous Pakistanis
  • Maureen P. Lines – British social worker who worked with the Kalasha people of Northern Pakistan

References edit

  1. ^ Walsh, Declan (10 August 2009). "He has been kidnapped and taken tea with princesses: a British major's life teaching in the Hindu Kush". The Guardian. Manchester. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  2. ^ Drury, Flora (6 January 2019). "Relic of the Raj who schooled a nation". BBC News. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Reporter, A. (22 October 2017). "Langlands turns 100". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  4. ^ Rashid, Salman (9 August 2015). "Chitral and back in a jiffy". TNS - The News on Sunday. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  5. ^ Walsh, Declan (8 June 2012). "Briton There at Pakistan's Birth Stays at 94, a Living Textbook". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  6. ^ Hasan, Masood (24 November 2013). "Chitral's patron saint". The News International. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  7. ^ "TWS to honour Langtands services". Pakistan Observer. 9 January 2014. Archived from the original on 9 December 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Meet the 92 year-old teacher finally calling it a day". BBC News. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b Ahmed, Alize. "Campaigner of education: Major Geoffrey of the Hindu Kush retires from school". Aaj News. Archived from the original on 6 January 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  10. ^ a b c "Campaigner of education: Major Geoffrey of the Hindu Kush retires from school". Aaj News. Archived from the original on 6 January 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  11. ^ Tweedie, Neil (13 June 2012). "Major Geoffrey Langlands, 94, leaves his post in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province after 60 years". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  12. ^ a b Shaukat, Aroosa (22 December 2013). "Major Langlands: The blue-eyed boy". The Express Tribune. Pakistan. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  13. ^ Agha, Saira (9 January 2014). "Third World Solidarity to honour Major Langlands, hold press conference". Daily Times. Pakistan. Agence France-Presse. Archived from the original on 9 December 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  14. ^ a b Raha, Sonali (25 February 2003). "Bound by duty". Gulf News. Dubai. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  15. ^ a b Indian Army List (Special Edition) 1947. Government of India Press. 1947. p. 857.
  16. ^ "No. 36821". The London Gazette. 1 December 1944. p. 5523.
  17. ^ "Major Geoffrey Langlands was 30 years old at Partition". Dawn.
  18. ^ Tweedie, Neil (30 March 2013). "Goodbye to Major Geoffrey Langlands of the Hindu Kush". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  19. ^ Crilly, Rob (20 October 2010). "Former major, 93, honoured for 60 years teaching in tribal Pakistan". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  20. ^ a b c d e "Relic of the Raj who schooled a nation". BBC News. 6 January 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  21. ^ a b Walsh, Declan (9 August 2009). "He has been kidnapped and taken tea with princesses: a British major's life teaching in Pakistan's Hindu Kush". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Major Geoffrey Langlands, former Aitchison dean and lifelong educationist, passes away". Samaa TV. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  23. ^ "History". Cadet College Razmak. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  24. ^ Reporter, A. (22 October 2017). "Langlands turns 100". DAWN.COM.
  25. ^ "In Memory of Maj Geoffrey Douglas Langlands". Chitral News. 5 January 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  26. ^ Driscoll, Margarette (17 June 2012). "Class, say hello to Miss Chips of the Hindu Kush". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  27. ^ Newspaper, the (5 July 2015). "Tale of a Chitral school". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  28. ^ a b Boone, Jon (15 February 2016). "Exiled head returns to Pakistan school after legendary predecessor relents". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  29. ^ Staff (22 October 2017). "Langlands turns 100". Dawn. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  30. ^ "Legendary Englishman in row over fate of Pakistan school that bears his name". The Guardian.
  31. ^ "PM Imran Khan's teacher Major Geoffrey Douglas Langlands passes away". The News. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  32. ^ "Retired Major Geoffrey Langlands passes away at the age of 101 in Lahore". Dawn.
  33. ^ "Major Langlands, Pakistan's favourite headteacher, dies at 101 | News | Al Jazeera". Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  34. ^ "PM Imran Khan saddened over demise of his teacher Major Geoffrey Douglas Langlands". The News International. 2 January 2019.
  35. ^ "Major Langlands – a man committed to education". Dawn.
  36. ^ "Major Langland, made for awards". 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.

Further reading edit