Azeem Public School System: A Beacon of Hope for the Poor
By Dr. A. Khan
In the 21 st century, technology is the key to economic development. And education is the engine of technology; it is one of the requisites for socio-economic change in today’s knowledge-based economy. Policy makers with a vision, give education the same priority as defense of the country. A well-developed and properly implemented education system is the cornerstone of a country's developmental blueprint.
Like many developing countries, in Pakistan too, there exists a great disparity between the standards of private and public, and urban and rural schools. Furthermore, the educational achievement of a child depends on the economic status of the parents. For the privileged, the medium of instruction is English, and for the poor, it is Urdu. Many poor children end up as child laborers.
Over a hundred years ago, in the outskirts of the city that is presently know as Islamabad, a Sufi saint was traveling through the forests to visit a friend who lived on the top of a mountain in the village of Behand. As night fell, the Sufi saint lost track of the path, he prayed for the guidance; soon a small boy appeared holding a lantern, and he guided the Sufi saint to his friend’s house. Fast forward to a hundred years, in the same mountain of village Behand near Islamabad, Brig. (R) Javed Iqbal established a school system to illuminate the lives of the poor and deprived children.
Today a group of schools known as Azeem Public School System, in an effort to level the playing field, is providing quality education to the poor children living in the villages surrounding Islamabad. The Azeem public school project is the brainchild of Brig. (R) Javed Iqbal; in 2002 he established the Al-Azeem Trust using his personal funds and assets with the objective of providing quality English medium instruction to the poor and deprived children. The first school was established in the village of Behand with an initial enrollment of 17 students, today the school system has grown to 17 schools with a student population of close to six thousand students. The Al-Azeem Trust also provides boarding facilities for students.
The Azeem Public School System has set high standards for teachers and students. Competent teachers are hired and are paid competitive salaries. Students are exposed to challenging curricula that provides a strong foundation of math and science, and instills confidence in them. During the past two years boys and girls from Azeem Public Schools have secured top positions in the annual board examinations.
Recently a new “Taj Mosque” was inaugurated at the main campus of the Azeem Public School system, located in the village of Behand. The mosque, located on the mountain top, is named after Brig. (R) Javed Iqbal’s mother “Taj.” The design of the building is the brainchild of Air Commodore Ahmed Salam Khan.
Over the past decade, the dedicated educational service provided by the Al-Azeem Trust has raised the standard of primary education in the villages surrounding Islamabad. In future, Al-Azeem Trust plans to build institutions of higher learning to help their students pursue college education after they complete their secondary and higher secondary education.
The model of Azeem Public School System needs to be emulated all over Pakistan to create level playing fields for the poor children. Kudos to Azeem Public School System for illuminating the lives of the poor children with the flames of educational discovery and curiosity.
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