By S Meraj Nazar (1)
Church Mission School (CMS) was established in 1845 as the First Free School in Karachi, or the Province of Sindh. Colonel Preedy of the British Military will always be remembered for founding the school. It was placed under a Trust Deed in 1846, and at the request of the Trustees, handed over to the Church Missionary Society of London in 1852.
CMS has a great record of service to the community and has produced outstanding students over the years, the most noted being Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, who has inspired its students to follow his example of leadership and high ideals.
The school, run by the Christ Church, was considered one of the best schools in Karachi. Although early records are not available, the records after the creation of Pakistan show a pattern of high achievement, both in academics and in extra-curricular activities. For example, its students achieved some of the highest honors in the matriculation examinations, including three of the top positions in Karachi in 1960. The school excelled in sports, and produced many outstanding cricketers, who made all the way to the Pakistan National Cricket Team and represented Pakistan in International Test Cricket. For example, the Pakistan Test Team that won against New Zealand in 1976 had five CMS old Boys in its team! The school also had an outstanding Athletics Team that won Inter-School Championships. School had an excellent Boy Scouts Troop whose members represented Pakistan in International Jamborees in Iran, Greece as well as in other National Events. Schools debating team was one of the best teams in the City in the 1950’s and won many trophies in inter-school competitions.
Those were the heydays of the school. This started changing in 1971 when the school was nationalized, which it still is as of this writing. During its nationalization period, until 2010, the school saw deterioration in its standards. The three main historical blocks of the school were ruined due to lack of maintenance and neglect, and encroachments were built on school premises. The good news is that this situation was brought to the attention of the senior government officials, who took strong corrective measures, as reported in the daily DAWN, February 20, 2010, “KARACHI: Restoration of Church Mission School Ordered.” Besides restoring physical conditions of the school, a new management team, led by Principal Imtiaz Ali Bughio, went to work on improving the academic standards as well. School also got support from mentors like Mr. Shafiqur-Rehman Paracha, an ex-Commissioner of Karachi, who has been a great help in the restoration efforts.
The idea of establishing an alumni group came about in April 2016, during my visit to Karachi when I went to see the school with Dr. Altaf Hashmi, also a CMS alumnus, and now a surgeon and Professor at SIUT, Karachi.We were pleasantly surprised by the good work being done by the current school management, but we also recognized huge opportunities ahead to help the school restore the high standards it had in 1950’s and 60’s. We were part of that era and knew the potential for improvement to make the school one of the best in the city, and yet offer affordable education to all.Mr. Paracha suggested galvanizing an alumni group overseas, and providing ideas for improvement, encouragement, and moral support.The Alumni Group was founded in California, USA, in summer of 2016, and has been gradually growing, enrolling members from around the globe as well as from Pakistan.
The Group has been working with the school management and alumni to identify projects for improvement. Several projects have already been executed, the most notable being a brand new Library, complete with multi-media and books, all funded and executed by the Alumni Group.Other projects include: A Cricket Academy, A Boy Scouts Troop, Teachers’ Training seminars, CMS Website, etc. Other projects are in the concept and planning stages.
Students of 1950’s and 60’s are currently leading the alumni initiative, and there is a great need to bring younger alumni to the group for sustainability of this initiative. We are looking for ways to reach this broader group of alumni through the Pakistan media and the world social-media such as Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as through networking.
1) S. Meraj Nazar, the Founder of the Alumni Group, lives in California, and can
be reached at email@example.com