In the outskirts of the industrial city of Faisalabad in Punjab in Pakistan one finds the village of Sultan Town. It was here the vision of creating a brighter future would begin Ever since the establishment of the LAMS school in 1996, the focus has been on providing children, especially girls, educational opportunities that otherwise are unavailable to them locally. But the LAMS school is also a safe and secure, and child-friendly, place where young and old children can learn, explore and play. Significant amounts of resources are spent by the school on extra-curricular activities to strengthen the students' general knowledge and awareness, prepare them for their future, and grow their self-confidence.
The history of LAMS predates its establishment. Seven years earlier, in 1989, the businessman, humanist and feminist Yawar Bokhari established the BOKHARI factory (Norpak International) in Sultan Town. The factory soon became the biggest and most important employer in Sultan Town, and provided much sought after employment opportunities to the locals and as soon news spread that the factory was expanding and hiring, more people started moving to Sultan Town. Within a few years, the population grew from 5,000 to 15,000.
But while the business was doing well, and Sultan Town prospered, Yawar Bokhari soon realised that children did not go to school. He also noticed the difficult circumstances many women lived under. Something had to be done.
Following a brief consultation with family members, Yawar Bokhari decided to build a school for the children of the factory's staff, and in 1996 the foundation stone of LAMS was laid.
The LAMS school opened its doors to its first students on 5 October 1996 and offered free education to all children of staff at the BOKHARI textile factory (Norpak International). The school is located right next door to the factory and had originally only 5 classrooms and a staff room/office.
During the first years, LAMS offered only primary-level education (1st to 5th class) to about 150 girls and boys. In 1998, with private funds, the school expanded and five more classrooms were built, and could now offer education for girls up to 10th class. In 2000, more than 350 students (200 girls and 150 boys) were enrolled at LAMS.
In 2000, LAMS entered into a 10-year partnership with Norad - the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, providing the school the opportunity to consolidate its position and role as a model school. At the same time, the LAMS Foundation in Norway was established to contribute to ensuring oversight and provide strategic direction in the management and further development of the school. The Foundation works in close collaboration with the school's management and staff in Pakistan. The LAMS Foundation is a registered charity in Norway.
With resources from Norad, LAMS could expand further and in 2003 another 10 classrooms were built. In 2010, a total of 600 girls and boys were enrolled at LAMS.
In 2013, the Laila Library was inaugurated and provided the school with not only a library, but also a meeting place, a venue for discussions, debates and exhibitions. In 2015, another addition to the LAMS campus was made when the pre-school Alma & Selma Block was opened. It contains seven classrooms tailormade for the youngest students (aged 4 to 7 years). Both these buidings were made possible through private donations.
Today, LAMS offers education at pre-school, primary and secondary levels to girls and boys aged 4 to 18 years. Boys are offered education up to fifth class, whereas girls are offered a full 12 years of schooling. Nearly 700 students are today enrolled at LAMS and annually between 20 and 30 students graduate with O and A-levels, and are offered schoarships for further studies.
Beyond the challenge of running a school for children in Sultan Town, the LAMS Foundation also seeks to contribute to ensuring a sustainable social and economic growth and development of the local community. Despite the many challenges faced by the school and in the local community, based on twenty years of experience, we are confident that LAMS has contributed positively to the local community.
We have collected a series of photos from our 20-year old history. Established in 1996 with only 5 classrooms and 150 students, today the LAMS campus consists of 30 classrooms, a library, a school health centre and nearly 700 students. We've come a long way. Join this visual tour of our story.