Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the newly built Jinnah Foundation Auditorium at the JF School in Bhittai Colony on Saturday, Liaquat H. Merchant, the managing trustee of the foundation and a...
Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the newly built Jinnah Foundation Auditorium at the JF School in Bhittai Colony on Saturday, Liaquat H. Merchant, the managing trustee of the foundation and a grand-nephew of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, said that the aim of the foundation was the rendition of services in the field of education, health and social welfare in the underdeveloped areas.
To move forward, the foundation has set up four school buildings in Bhittai Colony, where hundreds of students acquire quality education with subsidised fees, he said, adding that the students also avail all facilities at the schools, and that is why a number of Jinnah Foundation school graduates are enrolled at the prestigious educational institutions of the country and abroad.
Merchant said the foundation has been striving to provide the best facilities to its students. He said a hefty amount is required to achieve such goals, and some generous philanthropists has made it possible and today we can say that Jinnah Foundation School is one of the well-equipped and well-furnished schools of Karachi.
On the occasion, the executive board of trustees of the Jinnah Foundation, including Chairman Sirrajuddin Cassim, Treasurer Naseem Merchant and Dr Mumtaz Lakhani, shared their views with the audience. The guest of hounor was Safar Ali Lakhani, who financed the construction work of the auditorium.
The foundation’s vision
Talking about the aim of the Jinnah Foundation Memorial Trust, Liaquat H. Merchant said that he had started a single-room school in Tikri Colony in 1988. “I was unable to hire more teachers. My wife Naseem Merchant and a friend who was a lady doctor would come to the school to teach the students.”
In 1989, however, he registered the Jinnah Foundation as a charitable trust with the aim of human development and set up a school. “The Jinnah Foundation School is a blessing for the people of Bhittai Colony. It imparts quality education and stands out as an exemplary institution dedicated to improving the lifestyle of the younger generation who will hopefully grow up and they will become responsible citizens,” he said.
“I dedicated my struggle to the memory of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah as a tribute and in acknowledgment of the monumental role played by him for creating Pakistan.”
In a separate talk with The News, Merchant said that currently the school is managed by the trustees of the Jinnah Foundation Memorial Trust. The school imparts training and education from Montessori to Matriculation with the slogan ‘serving the nation in dedication to the memory of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’.
At present, 1,282 students are enrolled at the school, while 100 teachers, including 27 former students of Jinnah Foundation School, one male principal, and four female headmistresses, are employed here.
Sharing further details, Merchant said the school has 53 classrooms, a library, a computer division, physics and chemistry lab, and a centre for the home economics division.
Addressing the ceremony, Jinnah Foundation Chairman Sirajuddin Cassim said the progress that the Jinnah Foundation had made during the past 20 years was significant though the school fee was very minimal.
Adhering to the apex court orders, the Jinnah Foundation School doesn’t increase fees more than five per cent per annum though expenses on utilities, salaries, security, maintenance and repairs increase from 15 to 20 percent annually.
Some generous philanthropists, corporate sector responsibility and a few others were regularly donating money to the school to serve the cause of education, particularly girl education, he said.
He said the Jinnah Foundation’s motto clearly states that education, health and social service are the building blocks of a nation, and this is indeed true. “We would like to improve our educational facilities and also expand into the provision of health facilities in the area. It may be not on high level, but at least parents, students, teachers and the residents of Bhittai Colony will avail basic health facilities.”
He said that all trustees of the Jinnah Foundation were committed to serving the children of underprivileged families in low-income areas. Through such practices, we will keep Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s memory alive in the minds of the younger generation and will also carry out a nation-building exercise.
The key to success
Addressing the audience, Safar Ali Lakhani said that education is the only way through which we can achieve our national goals. “I believe that education could change society because it is the only solution to the problems existing in our society.”
He said that Pakistan needs speedy progress for which education is the baseline. Thus, we have to be steadfast with the cause of improving literacy rate. However, female education is more important in our society because without educated girls, societal change and progress is almost not viable.
“An educated mother will have high expectations for her children’s bright future. She will try to develop an educated family. This is why literate mothers always strive hard to make their children able to hold good positions.”
In his message for mothers, Lakhani said that they have to pay heed to their children’s education. “If mothers want to raise good sons and daughters, they have to be focused on educating their kids.”
A new facility
According to the school administration, the newly constructed auditorium at the Jinnah Foundation School will be used for multiple purposes such as talks by prominent non-political leaders in the field of education, science, nursing, medicine, social services and vocational trainings. It will also be used as an audio-visual hall and for conducting training programmes. The trustees will also easily interact with the school’s management, parents and students.
JF Treasurer Naseem Merchant lauded the generosity of donors who regularly contributed to the wellbeing of the Jinnah Foundation’s students and teachers.
“Earlier, we had no an auditorium for organising seminars, workshops, lectures and presentations. I thank all the donors who gave us a state-of-the-art auditorium. This new facility will provide an opportunity to the students to attend audio and video conferences, on-campus seminars and lectures.”
Appreciating the talented students, she mentioned that a large number of students of the Jinnah Foundation School have secured more than 90 percent marks in the Secondary School Certificate Annual Examination 2019 held under the Board of Secondary Education Karachi. “We are so proud of our students and teachers who showed their dedication to the cause of Jinnah Foundation.”
On the occasion, Sirajuddin Cassim said that inauguration of an auditorium may be a small event, but to us at it is something momentous which we have aspired for long and have now achieved with the help and support extended by Safar Ali Lakhani. He announced dedicating the auditorium to the memory of Lakhani’s parents, Shirin and Karam Ali Lakhani.
A guest speaker, Dr Mumtaz Lakhani, who is a faculty member at the Aga Khan University Hospital, said that if we start to build schools in every neighborhood, they will still be less than the number of children growing up there.
“We need thousands of schools on the pattern of the Jinnah Foundation School, which imparts quality education to the hard-up children of Bhittai Colony. When these students complete their higher education at varsities, they would change the fate of the locality as well as of their families,” said Lakhani.
Around two years ago, the Jinnah Foundation in collaboration with a private bank had started a scholarship programme named ‘Higher Education Scholarship Scheme’ for its alumnae. Since the inception of the programme, 109 gradates have been awarded scholarships amounting from Rs 250,000 to Rs 500,000. However, it depends upon the fee structure of the institutions in which the Jinnah Foundation’s former students are currently enrolled.
“We regularly call our talented and deserving students for interviews to avail the scholarships for higher educations. Those who meet the criteria, the Jinnah Foundation make sure to pay them scholarships,” said Liaquat H. Merchant.
Scholarships and awards
During the inaugural ceremony of the Jinnah Auditorium, 28 teachers received special prizes for commendable service at the Jinnah Foundation School. Likewise, 11 alumnae who study at various varsities received Higher Education Scholarship. The Teacher of the Year Award was bagged by Noreen Iqbal, while Jinnah Foundation School Principal Mussarrat Tahir distributed the best performance awards among 10 students of Class 10th.