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Enhancing Educational Opportunities at St Solomon’s School, Multan

During the past two years, St Solomon’s School which is located in Ahmedabad on the outskirts of Multan, Pakistan, has seen the construction of additional classrooms, a hall and other facilities to cater for an increasing roll and the gradual introduction of Grade 7-10 classes for girls. The Lasallian Foundation, with significant funding from the O’Brien Foundation Australia and St Bede’s College, Mentone, facilitated the efforts of the Principal, Brother Waseem, to provide quality educational facilities for children who come from poor families who would otherwise not have received an education.

According to UNICEF, Pakistan has the second-highest number of out-of-school children with an estimated 22.8 million students aged 5-16 not attending school, particularly children who are female and from low socio-economic families.

St Solomon’s School was begun by the De La Salle Brothers in 2004 as a Community Centre whose purpose was to provide vocational training for youths who had dropped out of school and evening tuition classes for children who may or may not have been able to attend a school.

In 2010, the Community Centre was converted into Primary School as there was a dire need for formal education in the Ahmedabad area of Multan, particularly for the Christian children who come from low socio-economic families. The Christians living in Ahmedabad are very poor and illiterate, with most being daily wage labourers or sweepers.

The number of students at the school has grown to 343, attracted by the quality of the education offered and the interest and care that the teachers show for each student. The local community have been urging the Brothers to offer classes for girls in Grades 7-10 as there are very limited opportunities in the area for girls to continue their education in lower secondary school. It is a Pakistani government requirement that boys and girls are taught separately and have their own section or campus from Grade 7 onwards.

Two large grants from the O’Brien Foundation in Australia, with financial support from St Bede’s College in Mentone, enabled the construction of additional classrooms, a science room and a computer room, a library, a staff room and a hall. Obsolete and unusable audio-visual and computing resources were replaced. The playground and assembly area were raised to prevent flooding which had been an ongoing problem during the rainy season. Cover was provided for parent waiting areas, and a school office was constructed. New toilets and clean and cool water were provided for the use of the children. The infrastructure and other related projects cost about AUD 300,000.

The new facilities were officially opened by Brother Chris Patino, a General Councillor from Rome, during a recent visit to Pakistan. The large gathering of Brothers, local clergy, parents and students expressed their gratitude for, and pride in, the new facilities at the school.

This investment in the education of the children, especially girls, at St Solomon’s School, combined with the leadership and dedication of Brother Waseem and the school staff, demonstrate how donations can make a real difference to the lives of poor and disadvantaged students.

The Lasallian Foundation and St Solomon’s School extends its sincere thanks to the O’Brien Foundation Australia and the St Bede’s College Principal, staff and students for enabling this vital project to be undertaken and completed.

Before and after