LAMS is a school located in the village of Sultan Town, in the outskirts of Faisalabad in Pakistan. The school offers free and subsidised education at pre-school, primary and secondary levels, and was established in 1996 by the businessman, humanist and feminist Yawar H Bokhari who resided in Lillehammer, Norway, but who wanted to give something back to his people and homeland. The school was established as a social entrepreneurship initiative in collaboration with the textile factory Bokhari (Norpak International) that manufactures and exports handmade textiles to the Norwegian and Scandinavian market.
LAMS today offers pre-school, primary and secondary level education to girls and boys aged 4 to 18 years. Whereas boys are offered education up to fifth class, girls are offered 12 years full education all the way to O- and A-levels. Nearly 700 students today study at LAMS, and annually between 20 and 30 students graduate and are offered scholarships to continue their studies at local universitities.
Ever since the establishment in 1996 of LAMS, the school has been a pioneer in promoting gender equality with exceptional results in the local community in Sultan Town. Despite the many challenges faced, LAMS remains a beacon of hope and prosperity and has directly and indirectly contributed to improving the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of students.
With the recently established Graduate Scholarship Fund, LAMS can now also offers its graduate students opportunities beyond the walls of LAMS, and many have made use of the opportunities this Fund offers to study at local universities and colleges. This contributes both to further education, but also new and expanded work opportunities. These are today women full of confidence and knowledge.
Among the former students of LAMS, we today find teachers (many have chosen to return to LAMS), accountants, health workers, engineers, businesswomen etc. Many of the girls are the first in their families who can read and write - and many of them are today their families' main breadwinners.
But most importantly is the confidence and knowledge acquired during the 12 years at LAMS. That no-one can take away from them, regardless of what happens in the lives. The confidence and knowledge will stay with them forever.
LAMS is a living proof that change is possible. Inspired by the struggle for gender equality in Norway, coupled with a spirit of volunteerism and influenced by elements of the Norwegian approach to learning, the dream of creating LAMS became a reality, and has since provided - and continues to provide - thousands of girls and young women opportunities to take part in shaping their own futures.
The LAMS Foundation in Norway was established to provide overall support and accountability for the management and further development of the school and collaborates closely with the school's administration and management in Pakistan. The LAMS Foundation is a registered charity in Norway.
Beyond the challenge of supporting 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.