The Educational and Social Programmes of the TOS in Pakistan
With every passing year, the TOS in Pakistan only strengthens its resolve to continue with its various programmes unimpeded by the turmoil that engulfs the country, and often pitches it into the world's headlines. Pakistan’s role as a “frontline state in the war against terror” has taken its toll on the lives of its citizens. Violence and fear which have become a part of everyday life create a sense of helplessness and uncertainty about the future. The role the TOS has undertaken is to ensure that despite these setbacks there is always room for hope. In a quiet unobtrusive way we try to keep hope alive.
Our Education Sponsorship Programme [ESP] was established to enable young people to move towards a brighter future. The youngsters sponsored in this programme are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, with many living in conditions of extreme poverty in areas where violence on the streets is a common experience. Quite often, these children come from families where the parents are illiterate, or the father has had a very basic education while the mother has had none. To get a secondary education and then go on to university is the fulfilment of a goal which would be unattainable without the help of the TOS.
Literacy opens up a new and exciting world, and the regular visits of the children and their parents to the TOS office enables them to see that a world exists where progress and learning, harmony and tolerance are a reality.
Through the ESP programme, sponsors may support the education of their chosen child from Primary school through to the University level, and have the immense satisfaction of knowing that their sponsored student will be able to look to the future with confidence. At the moment there are 375 students enrolled in this programme, and we are very happy that there are many success stories of remarkable achievements as a result of this programme
Some of the outstanding graduates of the programme
Another very important undertaking is the functioning of the TOS Literacy Centre Home Schools. This project is locally called the ‘Qandeel School Project’. ‘Qandeel’ means ‘lantern’, and symbolically signifies the shining of the light of knowledge among the participants.
In this programme an educated woman who resides in a low income area is employed as a teacher. One room in her home (which sometimes consists of only two rooms) is converted into a schoolroom during the day. The TOS provides a blackboard, mats for the children to sit on, an electric fan, a water-cooler, charts for the walls, books, pencils, etc.
The function of the teacher is to enrol 25 young children from her neighbourhood in the school. In many cases, if not enrolled in the Qandeel schools, the boys would be playing in the streets or going to a religious school. The girls would be doomed to doing domestic chores and being burdened with the care of their younger siblings. For these little girls there is no carefree childhood. The Qandeel schools are therefore a golden opportunity for these children to start a new life.
The appointed teacher too embarks on a new journey of learning and achievement. She is encouraged to express her ideas and develops a sense of self-worth and confidence which changes not only her life but the lives of the children in her charge. There are 13 such schools functioning in the city of Karachi.
Some of the children attending Qandeel schools
The Jamshed Memorial Hall, which is the building of the Karachi Theosophical Society, houses the Jamshed Memorial Montessori School. This school now has 250 children enrolled, and has been functioning since the 1960s.
The TOS also operates a Medical Relief Fund providing assistance to those who cannot afford to pay for medical expenses.
In every aspect of service rendered, the TOS in Pakistan has worked to uphold the Theosophical ideals of Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour. It continues to work towards promoting tolerance, harmony and goodwill and re-affirms its resolve to uphold its motto 'A Union of those who love in the service of all that suffers'.
In order to continue operating these programmes the TOS depends heavily on local and overseas donations. The Literacy Centre Schools depend entirely on overseas funding and we are extremely grateful to the TS/TOS in Australia and New Zealand who are our main sponsors. We also acknowledge with gratitude our sponsors in the United States of America, Germany and South Africa.
If you wish to support the work of the TOS in Pakistan, A$130.00 per year will support the education of a student through the Education Sponsorship Programme.
A$1,000.00 will support a Literacy Centre School (i.e. the Qandeel School project) for one year.
Donations may be sent by bank transfer or cheque. Please contact Fareeda Amir for bank details by email at