Pak-Turk Maarif Schools: Two Nations, One Future

Turkey has always been generous towards Pakistan in every hour of need. That hold true for education as well, where Turkey and Turkish organizations have been providing quality services since 1995. Aisha Saeed talks to Salehuttin Batur, the country head for Maarif Foundation, about how he plans to take Pak-Turk Maarif Schools to the next level.

Joint Future: From the time he begins speaking about the school, it becomes evident that Salehuttin Batur, the country head for Maarif Foundation, is a man with a clear vision for the school and understands the importance of education for the region, especially for the two brotherly nations.  “Both Turkey and Pakistan are developing countries, and education is critical to their future. The Turkish Maarif Foundation has been constituted by the Turkish Grand Assembly with a specific mandate of providing international assistance in this area and holds a strategic position for the required resource sharing,” he told us.

“Our strategy and approach in academic development targets highest possible quality and standard in educational programs, study text and academic service delivery. These have been customized in accordance to the prevailing regulatory frameworks and the challenge of attaining the required level of literacy in Pakistan. Along with promoting Turkish language and culture, we have devised Student Exchange Program from the school to the university level, which will embed the philosophy of ‘Two Nations, One Future’,” Batur added. He said the Pak-Turk Maarif Schools provided Pakistan’s education sector a valuable service and the future plans included more schools. “Currently, we are operating through 27 campuses situated in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Multan, Quetta, Lahore, Karachi, Khairpur, Jamshoro and Hyderabad with more than 12000 students and are targeting expansion through additional presence all around Pakistan. At present we offer kindergarten to Grade 12 education along with Cambridge O/A level in our schools with independent purpose-built campuses for boys and girls.”

Students Do The Talking

Batur said the school’s administration did not really feel the need to speak about its achievements, as its students represented all that was great about the school. Recently, students from the Pak-Turk Maarif Schools secured distinct positions at an international competition, which speaks of the school’s encouraging environment for students.  This school has a history of vibrant participation in national and international competitions,” the country head said. “In 2019-20, Pak-Turk Maarif International Schools and Colleges will be hosting an International STEM competition which will invite national and international schools to compete for recognition and scholarships. We provide inspirational and efficient learning environment to students who participate in such competitions and pay our tribute to the teachers for their efforts and motivation in encouraging their students to excel.”

The Maarif Foundation

A relatively new name in Pakistan, not much is known about the foundation that now runs the schools. According to the country director, the foundation’s work went far beyond managing and operating high quality schools. “The Turkiye Maarif Foundation (TMF) is working to award scholarships in all educational processes from preschool to university education. It aims at opening facilities such as educational organizations and dormitories to train educators that are then assigned to these organizations. Their scope of work includes scientific research, research and development in education, publishing of academic work and development of educational methodologies. All these activities are in accordance with the laws and regulations of that country where these facilities are operated in, so that the foundation helps improve formal and informal education by taking common human values and knowledge as basis.”

Future Goals

Turkey and Pakistan hold great strategic partnership and the relations between the two countries is at an all-time high. The schools represent a common goal: to provide education to its children for a better future.  “As I mentioned earlier, to promote our philosophy of “Two Nations, One Future” through intellectual development, we are keen to tap all possible arenas. TMF has it’s headquarter in Istanbul that provides strategic supervision for all global presence through regional coordinators. All countries including Pakistan are represented by country directors who lead the on-ground operations through a team of professionals,” Batur explained.

So Why Pak-Turk Maarif School?

According to Batur, one of the prime reasons to choose the school is its clear approach to education. “At our schools, we promote and advocate value integrated learning. Our students are not only excelling in academics, they are brought up to respect the society, be ethically motivated and understand their role in the development of the country.” Asked about the new Pakistani government’s plans to reform education, Batur said the “government of Pakistan’s targeted reforms for education comprise of the wide range of required improvements. ‘Uniformity’ in progressive educational discussion at times carry negative connotations which imply lack of exclusivity or being oblivious towards diversity and innovation. This automatically develops an interpretation of conformity.’  “In our opinion, when the government targets and announces uniformity, it is in-spirit targeting the minimum required standardization which would later evolve into policy/regulatory frameworks for education. We not only accept this initiative, but also advocate and facilitate it on all possible forums,” he added.” Turkey has been involved with helping uplift the education service sector in Pakistan since 1995, something that must be lauded by all and sundry. Pakistan’s education sector needs all the assistance it can get to meet the prime minister’s goal in terms of educational overhaul.  The philosophy “Two Nations, One Future” speaks volumes in terms of what two countries can achieve with education and meet the United Nations’ SDGs. 

Aisha Saeed is feature editor of academia magazine. She can be reached at aisha.saeed@academiamag.com and on twitter @MsAishaK