The Story of HOL School
Raja Qaiser Ghaffar, a resident of Pind Begwal in outskirts of Islamabad had awareness of the connection between education and progress. He dreamt of opening a school for the most underprivileged children of his area to improve their standard of living. He believed that even if one child of a poor family could receive a good education he would not only help in improving the economic conditions of his whole family but would also influence thinking within the family.
When Qaiser visited Europe and saw the level and nature of education, his awareness and determination increased. In 2002, while in Spain, he became friend of Mr Arnim Schulz, a German language professor at the Goethe Institute of Barcelona. The two friends discussed about developing an educational project in Qaiser’s village to provide free education and named it House of Light School.
Arnim visited Pakistan for the first time in 2002 and discussions about the school continued and they succeeded in establishing Horizon International Trust in 2005. Funds were collected from family and friends and the House of Light School (HOL School) began in 2006 with a batch of 25 underprivileged children belonging to Pind Begwal and its surrounding areas.
HOL school was initiated in Pind Begwal in a rented house of the village, about 45-minute drive from Islamabad. The school started with Pre- class one and currently has about 200 students up to class eighth – the senior most class. School uniforms, books, materials, meals and even pick and drop from homes is provided free of cost to every child and no fee is charged for tuition and other services.
The class five graduated in March 2012 and the children were bid farewell as the school was established as a primary education facility. But both the girls and boys refused to leave the school and insisted to carry on their education, forcing the Principal to initiate class VI in a tent. The school did not have funds to further expand its infrastructure. With the idea floated by a Trustee, Dr. Arjumand Faisel - the owner of gallery 6 Islamabad, the students took the initiative to raise funds for their contribution to construct their class room. They made 50 paintings, which were exhibited and sold at the gallery in May 2012. The exhibition was marketed worldwide by the gallery and it led to raising funds over a million rupees.
This unprecedented response to a fund raising activity had a dramatic effect. It gave a new dream, motivation, confidence and encouragement to the Board of Trustees of HOL School that they can raise funds and build their own school comparable to the best private schools in the country. Hence, they focused their attention on materializing this dream and took various steps.
Raja Qaiser Ghaffar, the President of the Horizon International Trust, donated about 9000 sq yds of land in the area. A young architect Rweeda Himayat designed the school building on a small fee. Shahla Rafi (Trustee) was given the responsibility for writing to Embassies for funding the construction of the school building and she succeeded in acquiring $ 120,000 through Japanese Embassy’s fund for “Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects”. Senator Mushahid Hussain arranged a fund of Rs. 4 million through the local government. Dr. Arjumand Faisel continued his efforts for raising funds for operational expenses and for acquiring furniture and other accessories from HBL Foundation over Rs. 2.5 million. Sophia Ahmed based in UAE, Afzal Akbar Khan (Trustee) and Tariq Mehmood (Trustee) also played a vital role in supporting and generating funds for Child Support Program, operational expenses and keeping a vigilant eye on their utilization.
In March 2015, only after a period of 36 months the new School building is be ready with completion of Phase I, which has 10 classrooms and administration block. Laboratories, library, auditorium, canteen, etc. will be constructed in the next phase for which more funds will be required.
Besides improving the physical environment by the Trustees, Mrs. Saadia Qaiser, the Principal of the school and wife of Raja Qaiser Ghaffar, has played a key role in maintaining the quality of teaching. Educated girls chosen from the village have been trained through teacher training workshops offered by different organizations. The students recently appeared for the first time in examinations conducted by the Federal Board. All of them passed with A grade (at least 70% marks), 8 got A+ (at least 90% marks), while 3 were awarded government scholarships as they acquired 95% marks or more.
Horizon Education for Pakistan (HEFP) established in 2007, in Spain by Arnim Schulz also provides HOL School with financial help through fund raising, as well as help and collaboration in educational training. Individuals and institutions across the world, willing to become part of this story of success can sponsor a child for Rs. 24000 for a full year education or donate for operation of the school.