By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Nov 06 - 12, 2000
Ms Nasreen Kasuri is married to a politician and
has three children. All three are working and like most young people
bitten by the Information Technology (IT) bug. Her special areas of
interest, other than education are women empowerment and to support
women causes. Beaconhouse is an organization that is dominated by
women. She strongly believes that women have certain advantages that
they can build upon if given the opportunity. She is in search for
ideas and concepts and observe changing trends in education closely.
PAGE: Can you briefly tell us about your
school, its mission and objectives?
NASREEN: Beaconhouse School System (BSS)
commemorates its twenty-fifth anniversary thiis month. BSS owes its
origin to Les Anges Montessori Academy established in 1975 for pre-schoolers.
With an enrollment of almost 40,000 students, who receive instructions
through more than 80 facilities in 21 cities, helped by a staff of
around 4,000. The System can be classified as the largest integrated
educational system of the private sector in Asia. BSS aims to produce
aware and enlightened global citizens who are prepared for the
fast-changing world while continuing to uphold the values essential to
humanity. Through the use of appropriate leading edge technologies in
its delivery systems, we intend becoming a torchbearer of change in
the education system in the country.
PAGE: What inspired you to set up the
Beaconhouse School System ?
NASREEN: Both my boys were ready to go to
school in 1975. At that point I realized the limited choice available
and also the fact that since the time when I myself went to school,
the number of schools and seats had not increased. I also realized
that my children would not be fortunate enough to benefit from the
quality of instructions that I had benefited from. The only way I
could meet such a challenge was to set up a school which could provide
quality education to my children and others.
PAGE: Being a lady and especially at a time
when there were not any significant individually owned schools around,
did you face any hurdles in the establishment of your school ? Did the
government support you?
NASREEN: The problems that I faced were not
on account of my gender or for that matter on account of the
government of the day but simply because of the nationalization of
1973. There was reluctance on part of the house owners to rent out
their property for a school. The government did not either support me
or create hurdles. I suppose at that point nobody envisaged the
private education phenomenon as we see it today.
PAGE: In your opinion, how has the private
sector contributed in the educational infrastructure of the country ?
NASREEN: The last 25 years have witnessed a
gradual decline of educational facilities in the public sector and a
rapid improvement in the quality of education provided and the private
sector institutions established in Pakistan. From that point of view
the private sector has not only helped improving education
quantitatively but also qualitatively. The entry of private
universities has seen a vertical growth of private education.
Graduates from these universities are second to none in the world.
These young men and women go through the best educational exposure.
When they come into the work place, we would have completed the full
circle of human infrastructure that is essential to indigenous
educational development and growth.
PAGE: What have been the achievements of the
Beaconhouse School System?
NASREEN: Since its inception in 1975 the BSS
has grown from a small nursery school to a large chain of private
schools spread all over Pakistan. So far approximately 10,000 students
have graduated from Beaconhouse after completing their matric, 'O' and
'A' level studies. There are now 14 custom-built schools in the major
cities of Pakistan. The System boosts of 33 percent of its staff
trained in-service at Beaconhouse expense, certified to an
international certificate of education through the University of
Bradford. With a strong in-service infrastructure the System has
trained indigenous trainers to deliver the international certificate
of education through the University. Classroom research and
development, training infrastructure, textbook and curriculum
development have been the main features of our journey.
PAGE: How is your school different from
other private schools ?
NASREEN: BSS is the only private school
system which has an institutionalized teacher training set up; its an
ever developing learning organization; the values is past but looks at
the future. It is unique because of its size and the number of
graduates that pass out every year. Beaconhouse offers its students
transfer facility from one city to another thus ensuring a
continuation of their education in a similar educational environment.
PAGE: What are the advantages that you offer
to your students?
NASREEN: We offer custom-built campuses,
well-equipped libraries, a strong Cross Curricular Computing project,
co-curricular activities e.g. elocution, debates and a number of other
such activities that provide the students with a more well rounded
PAGE: What are your plans for the future?
NASREEN: I am working on the Beaconhouse
National University that will come under a charitable trust. I am also
focusing on finding ways and means to reduce the cost of quality
education so that it can become accessible to a larger and less
privileged section of the society. I would like to use computers and
technology to support the teaching and learning processes and bring
about a hi-tech change in the teaching environment. I want the
classroom to become a more 'cyber-active workplace'.