Boarding schools are institutions which enables a child to develop self-confidence, and independence. Because the child spends so much time in the school, he has opportunity to take part in extracurricular avidities and sports. It allows time to developed new interest and adopt new hobbies.
Seeing the advantages of a boarding the British adopted it in their country and the elite in most professions come from their boarding schools, as the famous saying that ‘battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton ‘(a famous British boarding school) would indicate.
The character building that comes with playing sports under close supervision of teachers, where honesty and fighting spirit is inculcated. That is why proverbial good education in Pakistan has been associated with Atchison or Hassanabdal, both boarding’s.
In Pakistan we have a boarding in few schools like the ones mentioned above and a few Daanish schools, few Army Cadet Colleges and very few in the private sector. Although there is no official data available but such schools could not be more than 70 having a population of 40000 students.
In comparison there are about 40000 madrassas (22000 registered) having a conservative estimated population of 2.5 million students. The main motivation for poor parents to send their children to madrassa boarding is because they provide board and lodge .Since the students spend on an average ten years in a madrassa, the institution takes advantage of the benefits of a boarding and inculcates the qualities and belief, which are their priority.
Further, to inculcate both ‘taleem and tarbiat’, boarding in the context of Pakistan‘s poor population is relevant because it takes away the child form the caustic home environment of a poor household, where parents have little time for their children because of their large numbers and their own economic struggle .Hostel provides them space to develop their personality in friendly and encouraging environment,
Seeing this need for boarding education Punjab government under PML (N) started building Daanish schools in backward areas, for the social and economic up lift of the poor segments of society. They could build 14 such schools, seven for boys and an equal number for girls .But the cost of each school was so prohibitive (one school cost more than a billion) that it was too much for the government to continue building .The present student strength of the total Daanish system is 9400 children .A creditable effort but too expensive for a poor country like Pakistan.
The Noorani Foundation (TNF) has been deliberating the issue of boarding education for the poorest of the poor in order to give parent, who are motivated to send their children to schools due to the attraction of free board and lodge, an opportunity .Also TNF felt that day schools , specially government schools and low cost private schools have no capacity to transform a poor peasants child in the six hours they spend in the school .When they go home they don’t find a very congenial home envioronmrnt.That is because the parent himself has had no ‘tarbiat’and even if he had it would be lost in the bitterness that creeps into poor household because of poverty.
Resultantly even the small percentage of boys and girls who spend ten years in school and matriculate, can hardly articulate themselves or have the confidence to be potential candidates for jobs other than those of drivers, peons or at best clerks .With the present setup the poor will always remain poor while the upper class with their high quality but expensive private education will continue to become richer.
The gap between the haves and have not’s will continue to widen and institutions with a motive and who can offer board and lodge will continue to prosper.
Obvious solution seems to be more and more boarding schools. But if the scale and style would be that of a Daanish School or a Hasanabdal it would cost a couple of billion to build one school. On the other end of the scale of boarding schools are the madrassas, most of which would cost a few lacs to build .But most madrassa hardly have any space for sports, so essential for the growth a young body and mind, or have a separate place to study and sleep.
So the way forward seems to be a boarding school with infrastructure somewhere in between .TNF pitched the idea of low cost boarding school over 6 acres with Akhuwat Foundation. They agreed with the proposal and agreed to donate 6 acres land next to their FIRST University.
TNF advertised for a country wide architectural competition for a low cost boarding school , which has comfortable living accommodation ,academic block with facilities for a library , computer room and laboratories .In addition accommodation for teachers and staff ,as all of them would be expected to stay on campus, was proposed be be built.
Work on the school started in July 2020 and the school opened its doors to the first entry of 160 boys in classes 6 to 8 on 10 October 2021.
TNF Akhuwat Boarding School Faisalabad is a pilot project to prove the hypothesis that low cost boarding schools is the answer if you want to raise millions of people living below the poverty line, to come out of poverty by educating their children in a healthy environment, where they get nutritious food, adequate sports and a character building environment