SOE Models of Educational Innovation Series: Maktab

Monday, April 15, 2019

On Wednesday, April 11, 2019 a session was conducted under the Models of Educational Innovation series in which Dr. Irfan Ullah Chaudary, founder of Maktab, presented his school model. The session, moderated by MPhil ELM student Jannat Karim Khan, was attended by SOE MPhil faculty and students.

Dr. Chaudary, Associate Professor, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, and MIT alumnus, started the presentation by elaborating on the journey of Maktab, a private co-educational school (preschool to A-levels) offering unique academic opportunities to a small, highly motivated and diverse student body. He shared his student life experiences and revealed that his time in MIT gave him a purpose to think with a different lens. He founded Maktab in 2012 in a two-room school on a farm in the outskirts of Lahore.  It ran with four students for three months. It was closed for construction in January 2013 and reopened in March 2015. The school now caters to the needs of approximately 300 students, and is situated on a pollution-free 3.5-acre campus right next to the scenic Lahore Zoo Safari. The campus boasts a ten-thousand book library, two swimming pools, an auditorium, a 400m jogging track, and playing fields.

The school draws its inspiration from many roots – Muhammad Iqbal, Alexander von Humboldt, John Holt, John Dewey, and Noam Chomsky. Iqbal’s verse, سراپا لذّتِ بال آزمائی, which means “the pleasure of struggling against headwinds”, captures the essence of the school philosophy.

Dr. Chaudary’s vision for the school is to have a small, supportive intense environment to nurture the innate abilities of the students. The school aspires to cultivate a culture that fosters introspection, honesty, empathy, tolerance, curiosity, and hard work, where the students have control over their own learning experience. It focuses on the wholesome development of its students in terms of human and moral values, respecting the environment, academics and integrating sports in their regular routine. While talking about the problems of the current education system, he said that education cannot be standardised and mass-produced in ‘school systems’. It should cater to the needs of individual students as every individual will have their own different needs.

Dr. Chaudary elaborated on several challenges that the school is facing currently, mainly finding skilled teachers who share the same core values as that of the school. He also talked about the financial difficulties that arise due to teacher retention.         

The Question and Answer session at the end catered to queries regarding the model of the school and its curriculum. Shahla Hameed, MPhil ELM student asked about the importance of infrastructure in the academic success of students. Various other topics were discussed regarding the targeted population of the school, curriculum design, teacher training, and the feasibility of the school’s framework in the long term.