Inculcating morality among Generation Next, Pharos Educational Foundation

A Year-long Series on Education, Sponsored by The Aligarh Forum : – A Mirror on our Efforts, our Successes & our Shortcomings ; Stories of triumphs, tribulations and struggles of the Indian Muslims in improving their educational status, in illiteracy alleviation, and in their professional and social uplift.

By Rehan Ansari,

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Mumbai: It is an education movement touching the lives of over 55,000 students across Maharashtra employing 120 teachers but without a building or a classroom. Pharos Education Foundation (PEF) started in 2004 with a mission to inculcate morality among school students.

Instead of constructing school buildings, PES invests in building better citizens. Its work is spread over 105 High Schools and Juinor Colleges across Maharashtra.

Islamic Refresher Course for students.

“It’s an experiment; a movement,” said Ibrahim Khalil Abedi, Director of the Foundation. “We designed well researched and considered syllabus after discussing it with the renowned ulemas, printed beautiful books and appointed dedicated and qualified teachers” Abedi added.

They prepared a curriculum with the consultations of uelmas based on Hanafi and Shafi Maslak. It’s in six parts called “Islamiyat” for the Urdu Medium students and five parts of “Understanding Islam Primary” for English Medium students.

“It requires lots of hard work, consultation, qualified academicians and religious leaders, dedicated team and more importantly the finance. Alhamdulillah, finally with the patronage of Abdul Razzak Kalsekar, a Philanthropist, and the blessings of Ulemas like Maulana Syed Rabe Hasni Nadvi, Maulana Israrul Haque Qasmi, Syed Arshad Madni and Academicians like Munawwar Peerbhoy, Prof. Saud Alam Qasmi, we started the project.

Dubai-based businessman Abdul Razzak Kalsekar is the patron of Pharos Educational Foundation

Is there not a problem providing religious teachings in Government schools? “Not at all” said Abdul Bari Asri, CEO of the Foundation. “It is a wrong perception, rules in Maharashtra allows it conditionally. As per SS Code No.45 , every educational institution can start religious teachings with the written permission of the parents. Neither government will bear the salary of religious teachers nor regular teachers will be spared for it and lastly religious teachings should not disturb the timing of regular school hours” he added.

Multiple Supreme Court rulings allow religious teachings in other states of India. We are free to provide our help and support to interested institutions who wants to adopt our syllabus with certain conditions, informed Abedi.

Initially the PEF started with adopting schools in Konkan belt. “We grew organically by opening up our syllabus for other schools and provided consultations in the appointment of teachers, thus the impact of our hard work multiplied many folds” said Abedi.

Abdul Bar Asari Falahi Abu Bakr Kazi Ibrahim Khalil Abedi

Besides teachings the foundation adopted other way of inculcating morals, like quiz competitions, monthly magazine, cultural programmes, and outdoor camps. “We are conducting Islamic Refresher Course for English Medium Schools, weekly Islamic classes on Saturdays, Sundays and to teach Urdu we have prepared a book “Urdu Ka Muallim” said Abedi. To encourage readings, Foundation provides sooks and literature at its own cost to Schools.

Appointment of teachers is one of the biggest task. To get the desired results for that they have different yardstick. They have Alims, High School passed teachers, Graduates, Post Graduates and even PhD as teachers. “If you see our advertisement for teachers, it’s unique. We don’t mention required qualification but 5 years of teaching experience, knowledge of Islam, good character, a Da’ee and a married person can apply for the job.”

“Teachers of Moral Education are usually paid very meagerly but to get talented people we started paying as per the government scale. Although we could not maintain the scale due to introduction of 5th pay and 6th pay commission but we are paying Rs.10, 000 to 12,000 per month which is much higher than others and also trying to provide housing facility for them,” added Abedi.

“Our objective is to prepare not only professionals like Doctors, Engineers, and Lawyers but to make them good citizen, pride of the society.”

Abdul Gani Atlaswala- Chairman distributing awards after an Islamic Quiz competition.

Foundation has an ideal and professional structure in contrast with the other trusts. Abdul Gani Atlaswala is the Chairman, Abubakar Kazi, Managing Director whereas Maulana Riyaz Ahmed Khan, Ali M Shamshi and Ibrahim Khalil Abedi are the three directors of the foundation.

Abdulbar Asri, Chief Executive Officer is looking after day to day work of the foundation with his team of Supervisors and Accountants. Retired Principal of Raees High School, Bhiwandi played an important role to start the project.