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Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah has said that the historic Narayan Jagannath Vaidya (NJV) Government Higher Secondary School was not simply a school. It used to be an honour to be a student at NJV, but with time, it has lost its glory, he lamented.

He stated this while talking to the media after visiting the school on Saturday.

He was accompanied by Education Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar. The CM was received at NJV by Education Secretary Iqbal Durani, Forest Secretary Sohail Akbar Shah, Sindh Education Foundation Managing Director Naheed Shah Durani and the administration of the NJV Government Higher Secondary School and Akhwat Foundation.

The education minister, education secretary and forest secretary briefed the CM about the history, renovation and educational activities at NJV school.

The school stands tall on main MA Jinnah Road even after 163 years. Visionary Vaidya, after whom the school is named, worked with great zeal and self sacrifice for the advancement of education in Sindh.

Housed in a beautiful historic yellow sandstone building, NJV is one of the 600 buildings listed as a heritage site. It is the oldest public school in Sindh and was started back in 1855 with 68 male students. It moved to its current location in 1876, with a total of 477 students. It even had the honour of housing the Sindh Assembly. As the first public school in Sindh, NJV school was pivotal in providing education to the people of the province.

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In 2015, the Sindh government stepped up to revive the NJV school to its original grandeur physically and academically by entrusting and working alongside Akhuwat in maintaining the quality education free of charge.

Pakistan has one of the world’s largest pools of youth under the age of 16. Akhuwat is working to equip them with proper educational and vocational skills to meet the challenges of tomorrow through its educational services for the marginalised, which includes adoption of rural schools.

They have adopted over 300 non-functional public schools to provide high-quality education and facilities. One such school is the NJV Government Higher Secondary School.

Addressing the teachers and Akhwat Foundation, Shah said that the real development of the province and country lies in the education of poor children.

“I am quite happy to see children from the lower-middle class clad in uniforms, speaking confidently in English in their classrooms. They know how to deal with their seniors as well,” he said, adding that this is what he wanted to see in every government school.

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The NJV school has a tradition of creating leading politicians, engineers, doctors and musicians and various others who shone their name and the names of their parents, school and the country in their respective fields. “I am sure this tradition will be kept alive and a new class of national leaders will be generated in every field,” he said.

“Believe me, today I have felt spiritual satisfaction to see the glories of this school and its building being restored,” he said, adding that he was with the private management of the school and would always be supportive, not just as a CM but as an individual.

The CM visited the school’s classrooms, science laboratory, art classes, computer laboratory, playground and interacted with the students. He enjoyed in the company of the students in the nursery, hearing them recite poems and tell him stories.

Efforts made

Before engaging in other substantive operations, a massive civil works project was undertaken to renovate the school and bring facilities like functional bathrooms, clean water, functioning doors and electricity.

The barren ground and rooftop were transformed into an astroturf football field, tennis and basketball courts. There is a cricket pitch as well. Kids who attend NJV school are the ones who cannot afford it.

Therefore, they are provided free of charge education, uniforms, transport, snacks and books.

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For now, the number of buses is not enough to facilitate all students so transportation is only provided to students living far. Currently, there are over 1,000 students enrolled and 45% of them are girls.

Home economics classes are given to both boys and girls where they learn to cook and bake. Every morning, there is a home period where students are taught basic hygiene, manner and social behaviour. Students are also engaged after school with classes like English, maths, chess and scouts.

Media talk

The CM said that the 1980s were a dark period in Karachi’s political history and there was a wave of fear and insecurity among the people.
Replying to a question regarding the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) – Pakistan rally at Tanki Ground in Azizabad, the CM said that everyone has the right to do politics and organise public meetings.

“There is no ban on political activities, but we will not allow a wave of fear and insecurity to be created as was created during the 1980s in the name of politics and so-called service to the people of Karachi,” he said.

“The people of Karachi are educated and cultured, which is why they have rejected those who destroyed the peace of this city, polluted politics with terrorism and hatred just to establish their sway,” Shah said.

The city now belonged to each and every person who lived and worked in it, Shah believed. We have to make the city a city of peace and tranquility, he said.

The CM said that people had not heard of Tanki Ground in Liaquatabad. Ever since Pakistan People Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari held a public meeting at the ground and received unflinching support and response from the people of the area, everyone is rushing there to hold public meetings, the CM claimed.

“We have set a tradition and now others are following it. Let them follow us, but they know very well that the people are not with them,” he said.

Shah claimed that in the elections of 2018, the people of Karachi would vote for the PPP as it has served the people of the city with its heart and soul.

Responding to a question about the next budget, the CM said that funds would be allocated for all the ongoing schemes but authentication to utilise them would be for three months only.

“We will make a block allocation [of funds] which the next government will be able to utilize for another nine months, from October this year to June next year. But, authentication will have to be taken from the provincial assembly,” he said.