Birth of an Idea
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Birth of an Idea

This story, which seems like a fairy tale, is a fascinating reality. In February 2002, concerned citizens volunteered to join hands to do something real and practical for their community. They established Kot Radha Kishan Development Trust (KDT) and began to think of constructive ways to provide high-quality education in the area which was yet to experience modern civic and social facilities.

The Learning School has come a long way in its physical infrastructure, but the teaching staff makes this school apart from the rest. With a sixty-member teaching staff guided by an able Principal, the team's hard work is paying off. This success is the excellent result of the students obtained in the Metric examination. The Learning School is entirely an English medium school. Nevertheless, all of the TLS's young lights shined brilliantly by achieving high marks and first divisions in their science subjects.

At TLS, you don't learn to be literate; you know and experience compassion; you know and share a respect for human rights, peace, tolerance, and diversity. You learn to enjoy learning! But most of all, you understand and experience how a group of motivated citizens can bring about change... A change that everyone can be a part of!

Join us in the responsible citizenry!

LOCATION

Kot Radha Kishan is situated 55 km south of Lahore. Administratively it is a sub-division of District Kasur. Kasur city is 35 km in the east, and Changa Manga, the first man-made forest of Pakistani, is 15 km in the south of Kot Radha Kishan. Main Peshawar-Karachi railway line passes through this town. It is linked with Lahore-Raiwind, Changa Manga-Chunian, Pattoki, Kasur, and Phool Nagar through metal roads.


ABOUT KOT RADHA KISHEN

The Population of Kot Radha Kishan is about 50,000, with an annual growth rate of 2.7%, a household size of 7.4, and a literacy rate of about 58%. On the other hand, the population of the surrounding villages of Kot Radha Kishan is about 60,000, with a literacy rate of about 35%. These surrounding villages are dependent on Kot Radha Kishan for a Railway Station, a Bus Stand, a Post Office, some Banks, Colleges, Girls High Schools, sub-division courts, crops and vegetable markets, and purchase of items for their daily use.

The educated people of Kot Radha Kishan, as well as of the surrounding villages, are primarily dependent on government as well as private jobs. Literate people of the town are working as workers in the nearly industrial zone of Raiwind and Lahore, and illiterates from villages depend on agriculture. Small numbers of people have power looms industries also in their homes.

In Kot Radha Kishan, the government school system is unable to cater to the needs of the fast-growing population mainly due to reasons like lack of updated training to teachers, student-teacher ratio that is more than 1:50, and a class size of more than 50.  A network of private schools is also operating in the area, but their quality of education is a matter of grave concern. On the other hand, the high profile English medium schools of the surrounding area go simply beyond the majority of the residents of Kot Radha Kishan and surrounding villages, with a fee ranging from PKR 8,000 to 10,000 per month.


LIBERAL FORUM PAKISTAN - KASUR CHAPTER

A moment was started under the plate form of Liberal Forum Pakistan (LFP), in April 2001 to mobilize the citizens for their political education.

It was realized that LFP has established various chapters in Pakistan and was mobilizing the citizens of Pakistan to participate in the newly established local government system. The citizens of Kot Radha Kishan realized a need for such a movement. With the consultation of some like-minded citizens, the LFP Kasur chapter was established on 27th April 2001.

LFP arranged several Seminars and Training Workshops in Kot Radha Kishan, and a Clean the City campaign was launched with the cooperation of local government newly elected representatives; on 02nd September 2001, a thousand citizens participated and cleaned their city. On 10th November 2001, another campaign against narcotics/drugs was launched with the cooperation of Ayubia Health Club, where the young generation warned about the harmful effects of narcotics. In addition, the District Coordinator of Liberal Forum Pakistan arranged several lectures in local schools and colleges.

KOT RADHA KISHEN DEVELOPMENT TRUST

After attending the seminars and campaigns under the platform of Liberal Forum Pakistan, the citizens of Kot Radha Kishan were much enthusiastic about doing much more for their town. They realized that they dearly needed a school that would provide quality education to the semi-urban and rural area students.

In November 2001, a group of citizens of Kot Radha Kishan, including union nazims, naib nazims, councilors, teachers, medical doctors, business people, and some civil society members, started their weekly meetings to discuss the possibility of such a good school with an affordable tuition fee. During the sessions, Dr. Farooq Ahmed Kunwar (late) was also requested to share his ideas.

During the brainstorming discussion, several ideas were discussed such as to request the owners of good reputation schools to open their branches in the town, to sell the shares to the citizens of the city let them have the profit after the school is made, or to request some donor agencies for the opening a school.

At the same time, some of the members narrated the stories of the other good reputed schools. Finally, it was decided that the citizens should make their school for their children. During the meetings and discussions, it was decided that trust in the name of the town "Kot Radha Kishan Development Trust" should be established, and the school should run under this trust, and later on, some other project could be taken up. Dr. Farooq Kanwar was approached to prepare the feasibility for the school.

A leading physician of the town, Dr Noor Ahmed Akhtar, had already announced that he was willing to donate 10 kanal of land if the school was to be established. Later, he generously donated six acres more land for the school. After conducting the weekly meetings at Dr. Noor Ahmed Akhtar's residence, after about two months Mr Muhammad Anwar, a social worker working in a German Foundation (Friedrich Naumann Stiftung), advised the panel that it was then clear that a school was to be built so each of the trust members should donate a minimum of PKR Two hundred thousand.


THE LEARNING SCHOOL

During the last week of December 2001, a fruitful gathering of the concerned group was arranged at Sheikh Shaukat Ali’s residence who is Chairman, Anjaman-e-Tajran (Traders body) of Kot Radha Kishan. As a result, the funds were announced for the school by the participants. This meeting was followed by the mission’s beginning to collect the maximum funds.

During the first week of January 2002, the collection of funds was started, and at the same time, a structure of the Trust was formed. Mutually was agreed that Dr. Noor Ahmed Akhtar was to be the Managing Trustee of the Trust and Mr. Muhammad Anwar as General Secretary. At the same time, Dr. Sameena Noor was selected as the Deputy Managing Trustee and Sheikh Shaukat Ali as Treasurer. When the trustees approached the organization for funds, the people asked them why they had paid a large sum of money. They kept on convincing them that it was their moral, social, and even religious duty to spend their money on a good cause, and the only benefit they wanted was that the citizen of the area would recognize their services for the community and indeed some more groups will form in this fashion.

Within one month, Rs.2.2 million was collected through trust members’ donations. Mr Arif khan - an architect, was hired from Lahore, and the building plan was ready by the end of January 2002. The Trust had to be registered in Islamabad as the relevant authorities in District Kasur resorted to all possible delaying tactics. The trustees had decided to start the school in April in its building. The race against time had thus begun.

The earth digging ceremony was held at the site on 5th February by Hazrat Mian Noor Muhammad Nusrat Noshahi of Sharqpur Sharif and Dr. Farooq Ahmed Kanwar. The foundation laying work started in the 3rd week of February. The school is situated 200 meters away from the main road, so the landlords of the surroundings co-operated a lot and donated their land available for a 20 feet wide link road. Later on, the District Nazim was kind enough to get it bricked, and in 2004, MPA, Sardar Shaukat Ali Dogar, arranged a carpeted road. The classes started on 8th April 2002, but Eid holidays, rain, theft, and electric wires were some of the hurdles that came in the way. One thing, which never lacked in the process, was the will to complete the first phase and the start of classes on 8th April 2002.

The commitment is reflected through the fact that an advertisement for staff required wad made in Daily Jang, Lahore on 10th February 2002, the following Sunday after the digging ceremony. After the ad, several candidates visited the site to see the school but gave up hope as they were not ready to accept that this school was to start in a short time.

Within two months, several tasks were completed that includes the construction of the school building comprising 12 classrooms (8,500 sq ft), selection of the school staff and their orientation training, admissions, arrangements with the banks for fee collection through challan forms, transport arrangements for pick and drop to the students and teachers from Kot Radha Kishan and surrounding villages. Same time Selection of the Uniform, selection of the syllabus that the Government should approve and valuable and cheaper for our students, and arrangements of the generators, electricity, and construction of the road towards school from the main road.

The most important task was to involve the community in the whole process, and they should realize that it is their school and they should send their children to the school, for which every weekend visits different villages were arranged, and video presentations through multi-media were given showing the under-construction building and our plans.

Citizens hesitated to visit the site as the school was within one kilometer from the town. However, we aimed to share the progress of the building, so every weekend, a video recording of the under-construction building and commitment of the contractor,  masons, workers, and the interview of the Trust Chairman were made. Some fliers were also prepared and distributed in the whole town with the story.

The most important task was to name the school. The friends suggested several names. Finally, Mr. Zafarullah Khan (Executive Director, Centre for Civic Education, Pakistan and later on Trust Member of Kot Radha Kishan Development Trust) suggested its name as “THE LEARNING SCHOOL”, which was immediately approved by all the trust members and the founder principal.

Several resisting forces did their best to delay and project. The private schools took it as a threat to their existence, forgetting that a top exit from their schools on an individual basis could not be more than 10 to 15% (it proved accurate later on). Some community members who had personal misgivings with the trustees started propagating adversely. Some religious people were worried that their children would be away from religion. The officials WAPDA could not complete their work on time, and generators had to be installed. In the first week of May 2002, WAPDA provided electricity for which Trust paid more than three hundred thousand Rupees for the towers and the wires from the main road to the school campus. Trust members worked for three days and nights with the electricity department officials and were successful when at 10.30 pm the electricity of the whole area was suspended, and wires of the School towers were joined with the main electricity lines. This did cause inconvenience for the citizens, but they realized that it was indeed for their excellent.

The supporting forces outdid the resisting forces. The supporting troops were the will and work of the trustees, neighboring landowners, newly elected local government representatives, educated and well-meaning citizens of the town, and Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s technical support (a German Foundation).

By the grace of God, The Learning School started its work on 8th April 2002 on its campus. Twelve classrooms were ready for the classes from Nursery to 7th, and 150 students were enrolled from 1st to 8th April 2002.  We applied for funds to construct two classrooms for German Embassy, and a sum of Rs.412,000 was funded, which was the first funding for our school. In 2003, when Mr. Arno Keller, the then Resident Representative, Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, was leaving Pakistan on completion of his tenure, the name of this block was made “ARNO KELLER BLOCK” to recognizes his technical and moral support to the school as well as the Kot Radha Kishan.

LET'S LEARN

The Learning School has a motto of "let's learn." It invites the students, teachers, parents, managers, and the community to learn from each other. The three main objectives of the school are:To provide an English medium environment where English is actively used as a language of communication and can help rural folk complete with urban people.

  • To ensure maximum "Thinking opportunities" for the students by using questioning, inquiry teaching, and cooperative learning and providing ample opportunities for creative speech and writhing through language use.
  • To inculcate the necessary self-confidence and social skills among the students through role modeling and co-curricular activities, which can make them valuable citizens in their practical lives
  • TLS is proud to enroll more than 1,100 students, employ 90 staff members, have 58 classrooms, a bookshop, a canteen, a large playground, and provide a healthy environment.

 The essential credit that The Learning School gained from 2002 onwards is the Trust of the area's citizens built and are happy to admit their lovey kids at The Learning School.