In Pakistan, quality education is only available in a few expensive urban schools, which are restricted to the children of affluent parents. Ninety nine percent of children, including many gifted and talented ones, mostly in rural areas, are condemned to sub-standard schooling.
The Kashmir Education Foundation (KEF) is a non-profit, non-political, educational trust registered in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, also as a charitable trust in the United Kingdom (Charity No. 1082299). Its primary aim is to make the highest quality education accessible to talented girls and boys from the poor sections of society, with special emphasis on female education. Another prime objective is to set up Institute of Teacher Education for female graduates particularly from rural areas, to enable them to become high standard teachers.
The pilot project of the Foundation is Pearl Valley Public School and Institute of Teacher Education in Rawalakot, Azad Kashmir, established in August 1996. The school caters for the educational needs of talented children from Rawalakot and the surrounding villages, over an area of two hundred square kilometers. It is a main policy of the Foundation to give priority to female education; girls constitute over fifty one percent of our total number of students. At present the school has two hundred and twenty five children up to eighth grade. It is planned that every year a higher grade will be added, so that children can eventually pass tenth grade or GCSE from this school. The pilot project has an Institute of Teacher Education, for female graduates.
The admission policy of the Foundation is that once a child is selected on merit, he or she becomes entitled to a place. The student is then financially supported by the Foundation if his or her guardians are unable to meet school or college expenses. Tests and interviews are conducted to determine the eligibility of girls and boys for admission, by an independent panel comprising experienced teachers and child psychologists. Intellectually, these children will be among the best in the area and they will receive the best possible education. KEF plans to support them (subject to funds) through their higher and professional education in other Colleges and Universities at home or abroad.
The future goals of the Foundation include setting up schools and colleges as well as Institutes of Teacher Education, both in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. These Institutes will have modern facilities like computers, science labs, libraries, audio-visual laboratories, and sports facilities. The Foundation aims to use the pilot project as a benchmark for similar schools and Institutes of Teacher Education to be set up in the future, as and when funds are available.
You can help us to further our cause. Pearl Valley Public School has been set up and maintained with generous contributions from many private individuals and organisations. If we are to create more institutions like Pearl Valley in the years ahead, we will need the assistance of many more people – committed people, who recognise education as the key not only to the future of our children but to the future prosperity of our great country.