The recent news that people are moving their children from regular schools to madrassa because they cannot afford fees in view of the recent surge in prices of items of daily use, has set a lot of people thinking about the direction that the country is taking.
The lasting impact that madrassa education leaves on the students is because most madrassas provide hostels, and hostel education is the most effective way to transform the personality of a child according to the priorities of the school management.
That is why most people want to send their children to schools like Cadet College Hassan Abdal, Sadiq Public School, or Cadet College Petaro. But then there are so few seats and also because the majority of middle-class people cannot afford the fees.
That is why The Noorani Foundation (TNF) set up by Mr. Tasneem Noorani former Federal Secretary, came up with the idea of low-cost boarding schools which cost a fraction of the cost of the regular existing boarding schools. They set up their first boarding school near Faisalabad in collaboration with Akhuwat.
I moved as Principal to this school (TNF-Akhuwat Boarding School Faisalabad) from Abbottabad Public School after having taught there for 30 years and having been its principal. Establishing a new school based on a new concept, from the ground up was a trying task and to be honest a bit daunting.
There were a lot of barriers that we faced starting out, especially due to the fact that the core principle of the establishment was that it was to be developed on a low-cost boarding basis while keeping the quality of education and extracurricular services at par with those provided by well-known boarding schools.
Another key challenge was to train our teachers, ensuring that they have an in-depth understanding of what a boarding school entails, and the additional attention, care, and mentoring the students who are under our charge need to achieve their potential.
Proof of our efforts came through in the form of the 9th grade Board Exam results, where our students set a remarkable milestone, achieving outstanding results. Performing high above the results of all well-established private schools in Faisalabad. 48 students of the school appeared in the Board Exams, with a hundred per cent pass rate, 42 students scored a grade A+, and 6 students scored a grade A. All these students belonged to the most underdeveloped parts of the country from all four provinces.
One of the students, Hamza Zubair, who secured third position in his class with an overall percentage of 95.8%, had secured only 59% in our entry test. However, we saw his potential during the selection interview and he was enrolled in TNF School. One of three siblings, Hamza’s father is a small shopkeeper in Faisalabad. He confided in us that in the previous school he attended, he would only study during the annual exams, enough to be promoted to the next grade. At TNF, for the first time, he got to understand academic concepts, and the value of punctuality, and all of that contributed to the phenomenal improvement in his grades.
Another student, Similar from Zhob, Balochistan, whose father is an electrician, learned about the school from social media and applied. When he enrolled in the school a year ago, he was unable to communicate confidently even in Urdu, and in an internal exam failed in mathematics. However, in his Board exams after being at TNF School only for one year he secured an overall 95.6%, securing 74 marks out of 75 in his mathematics exam.
Our approach goes beyond academics. Through the model of boarding schools, we focus on character development, instilling values such as discipline, hard work, empathy, and social responsibility in our students through sports, extracurricular activities, and lessons on social responsibility and integrity. We foster an environment where they can dream big and believe in themselves, regardless of the challenges they face. We provide them with the tools they need to succeed not just in examinations but in life.
Ishaq Ali, who is from Dera Gazi Khan, stood First in School, with a percentage of 97.47, is the son of a mason, and is currently enrolled in 10th grade. In addition to academic excellence, he is an active participant in extracurricular activities which he himself feels has helped in developing his personality.
We firmly believe that education is the most powerful tool to break the cycle of poverty and transform lives. Education is not a privilege but a fundamental right, and we strive to make it accessible to those who need it the most.
As the Principal of the Noorani Foundation Akhuwat Boarding School, I am inspired every day by the resilience and determination of our students and the support and passion of the Founders. Given the opportunity, every child can shine and contribute to society and the country. It is my hope that our Foundation’s work will serve as a model and catalyst for change.