PECHS Girls’ School was established in 1955 under the guidance, and pursuant to the vision, of Begum Amina Majeed Malik (Baji).
The school, and then the college (founded in 1961) quickly established a reputation for living up to Baji’s vision of a particular emphasis on ‘the best of East and West.’ This philosophy is explained in three words: Tolerance, Diversity and Excellence.
Baji elaborated these words explaining the school’s ethos and its principles. In her own words:
“My aim was to ensure that young women received an education whereby they could move at ease in both the western and eastern worlds. It is our duty to provide such opportunities for our young women.”
“If diversity is embraced it becomes a soul-enhancing force. But if it is viewed with prejudice and paranoia, it becomes destructive. Long before the government ordered the teaching of Sindhi, I saw the wisdom of teaching the language to the girls. And till 1971, the school not only ensured that Bengali was taught but also appointed prominent East Pakistani women to head both the school and college.”
“Ideally, education must not become a commercial, profit-driven product. The state should provide quality education to all. It is sad that to date, successive governments have failed to achieve this. Therefore, it is our aim to provide as affordable an education as possible at the highest quality possible.”
In its early years, the school did not seek support from power or authority but from the world of Art, Culture and Education. Sadequain painted murals for the school and college free of cost. These were subsequently donated by Baji to the Mohatta Palace. Great singers such as Farida Khanum, Iqbal Bano and Roshanara Begum performed on the campus and many other friends raised funds or provided technical expertise. Professor Saleemuzzaman Siddiqui, one of Pakistan’s great scientists, designed a gas plant for the school. And above all, Faiz Ahmed Faiz remained committed to the project throughout his lifetime. Equally, prominent foreign dignitaries such as Prince Phillip of the UK and Prince Bernard of the Netherlands also visited and supported the school.
In 1972, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto announced the nationalisation of educational establishments, Baji was amongst the few educationalists that welcomed the move. However, in a wise decision, the Bhutto government ruled that the PECHS Girls’ School and a few other institutions should remain in private control because the quality of education imparted was exceptional.
PECHS College, however, was nationalized as per government policy. In January 2000, the government of Pakistan acknowledged Baji’s tremendous contribution to education by naming the (subsequently nationalised) college after her.
Active management of PECHS Girls’ School was taken over by Nageen Malik in 1983 and the current administrator, Seema Malik has carried the vision forward since 1999.
The PECHS School remained a co-educational institution until 1961 and co-educational up to the primary level until 1971. Most women in Karachi who have emerged as achievers have done so through the schooling PECHS School and the college provided them, for PECHS School has not just been an ordinary school but in fact a storehouse of art, culture and academic achievement. It is one of Pakistan’s most prominent and respected schooling environments for the future women of tomorrow.
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