The first school of the Aga Khan Education Services, Pakistan (AKES,P) was established in 1905 in Gwadar, Balochistan. Over a century later, it operates 159 schools and 4 hostels in Gilgit-Baltistan, Chitral, Punjab and Sindh, mostly in the rural areas. With a diverse student population, these schools range from rural schools with less than a 100 students to large urban schools with over 3,000 students.
These schools cater to the educational needs of over 36,000 students from Early Child Development (ECD) classes to the higher secondary levels. With over 2,500 employees, of whom over 1,600 are teachers, AKES,P also gets support from over 2,000 volunteers. In Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, the first AKES,P schools were set up in the 1940s; since then they have contributed significantly to the increasing rates of literacy and socio-economic development in these mountainous and ecologically fragile regions of Northern Pakistan. It currently operates 152 schools in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, providing quality education to over 27,000 students, of which 54% are girls. Through these efforts, it continues to play a critical role in women’s development throughout Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. In the Southern Region, AKES,P operates four schools in Karachi, three schools in the semi-urban areas of Sindh and one in Hafizabad, Punjab, with a total enrolment of over 8,900 students. All these schools follow the National Curriculum and place special emphasis on the teaching of English, Mathematics, Science and the use of Information and Communication Technologies. Many of them are affiliated with the Aga Khan University Examination Board. AKES,P’s journey, from providing ‘access to education’ to ‘provision of quality education’, entails a number of innovative steps. From time to time, it has pioneered change and improvement in the quality of its services by introducing creative models of schooling, professional development, assessment and community participation – for instance, the community-based school model. Currently, the institution supports over 210 community-based school endeavours throughout Pakistan. Notably, the alumni of these schools have made their way to high-profile institutions such as the Institute of Business Administration, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Aga Khan University, DOW University of Medical Sciences, London School of Economics and Oxford University, to name just a few. Through an excellent blend of curricular and co-curricular offerings, these schools have proved instrumental in developing the students’ confidence, nurturing their creative abilities and leadership potential, and challenging them to be intellectually inquisitive and socially conscious.