Hyderabad, 13 Apr(PMI): To keep a promise. To honour one’s commitment. These are the prerequisites for civilised society and honourable living. But, Imam-e Zamana Mission of Hyderabad, India (IZM) has recently indicated that it will not honour its agreement with Sajjadiyya Trust (Canada) and Focus High School.
This decision is against the interests of the beneficiaries and against the interests of 80 eager teachers who had been hired in preparation for the handover.
On 24 January 2019, 11 out of 12 board members of IZM signed an agreement which stated that its Boys and Girls High Schools in Yakutpura would be handed over to Focus High School on 15 April 2019. This binding board decision was taken when Sajjadiyya Trust instructed IZM to do so. Sajjadiyya Trust (Canada) is the primary donor that has given crores of rupees to IZM over 30 years to enable it to help needy families. IZM is a legal agent of Sajjadiyya Trust and it is merely a custodian, not owner, of the Boys and Girls High Schools at Yakutpura. Therefore, when Sajjadiyya Trust decided that IZM was not performing its role satisfactorily, it is within its rights to entrust any other organisation with the work of social development.
On the basis of the January board decision, Mr. Akbar Ali Virji (President of IZM), Mr. Baqar Hasan (a board member of IZM and Focus HS), and Mr. Ahmed Ali Khan (a board member of IZM and Focus HS) formed a transition team. They convened meetings with IZM staff and parents to explain the change of management. They permitted Focus HS to assess the children and start taking admissions. They authorised Focus HS to conduct interviews with staff and to survey the buildings. In a cooperative and far-sighted spirit, both boards took great pains to ensure that the work of the schools would continue and flourish.
But, after instigation by Mr. Syed Abdul Wahhab (the only board member who was absent in the 24 January vote), the president and others lost their sense of commitment and decided on 6 April 2019 to ignore their signed agreement. Suddenly, months of preparation and high hopes were made worthless.
What is at stake in this situation? In terms of ethics, IZM has violated its agreement with Sajjadiyya Trust and Focus HS. This in itself is troubling.
But, more importantly, the 1200 children of IZM Boys & Girls HS have been robbed of a chance for a better education. IZM has certainly built a foundation of schooling among this community over its 30 years of service. But, Sajjadiyya Trust and most of the other donors recognised that IZM lacked the vision and skill to propel the children beyond basic literacy. Stagnation and inertia are visible in all aspects of IZM management of the schools.
By contrast, Focus HS is a young organisation that has made a mark by bringing high quality, holistic education to Old Hyderabad. Focus has a mission to make excellence affordable and accessible. Over the past 6 years, the school has operated two schools with 850 students; it has established a separate Bridge School that serves 40 orphans of Darul Yatama; and since 4 years, it has operated a coaching centre (Tibyan Institute) in Yakutpura to propel hundreds of IZM students through evening tuition and various summer programmes. In fact, Tibyan Institute arranged for over Rs 5,00,000 for the benefit of IZM students through the National Minority Scholarship scheme.
At a school level, Focus HS has achieved authorisation from the International Baccalaureate and two grants amounting to $50,000 to bring high quality, holistic education to Old City. The school has over 10 teachers who have earned national ranks in the Centre for Teacher Accreditation’s (CENTA) Teaching Professional’s Olympiad. 2 teachers are fully CENTA certified and one of them is an IB workshop leader. The school was audited by the Early Childhood Association (ECA) and recognised as one of the Top 50 Preschools in Asia; furthermore, Focus Bridge School was awarded for inclusive education.
The students of Focus HS have earned recognition in various spheres of academics and co-curriculars. The under-14 girls team won 1st place in kabaddi, organized by the School Games Federation of Telangana. Two primary students earned honourable mention at the Oakridge International School Model United Nations conference. Focus students won 20 prizes in the Math Olympiad conducted by Sreenidhi College of Science and Technology (SNIST). Out of 12 participating schools, the students won a gold medal in recognition of overall performance. A student of C9 was nominated for the final round of the Kalpana Chawla Award Competition 2019.
Focus HS created a core team led by Asma Zaidi, a CENTA certified, Montessori trained, dynamic, child-centred educator. She was assisted by Alamdar Ali, a gifted graduate of IZM who left a career at Infosys to dedicate himself to the community, and Humayun Abedi, another gifted graduate of IZM, who sacrificed a bright future in civil engineering to teach the children of Yakutpura. Working along with Principal of Focus HS, Minhaj Arastu, this entire team hired scores of teachers, planned a vibrant curriculum suited to the students’ needs, and designed a new vision for the Boys and Girls High Schools.
Focus HS arranged a budget of over 3 crores to see that the infrastructure is renewed and that teachers are better paid. Focus board members, Baqar Hasan and Ahmed Ali Khan personally committed over Rs 6 lakhs per month to ensure that deficits do not stand in the way of improvement.
But for the 1200 children of Boys and Girls High School, Yakutpura, all of this was not to be. IZM has chosen to break its word. Let the children muddle along in mediocrity; let the human potential waste away; let the strength of the school decline; let the donors disappear; let the community stagnate. This is the tragic decision of the custodians of our children’s future.
The Focus HS board intends to strive and struggle in the children’s interest, using all means at its disposal, to ensure that IZM executes its commitment to Sajjadiyya Trust and the beneficiaries.
For more information about Focus High School, please contact Minhaj Arastu, Principal at 9347555647 or Mustafa Hussain at 9246589588. Email addresses are: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com