Presbyterian mission efforts started in the Punjab region of what is now Pakistan in 1854 when it was still part of India (Pakistan declared its independence from India in 1947). One of the church’s primary means of witness to the community was through the establishment of Christian schools that served the poorest Pakistanis. The quality of education received at these schools was superior and flourished for more than a century, often leading to evangelization in the local community and the founding of many new churches.
In 1972 the government of Pakistan nationalized most of the Christian schools in Pakistan, including all of the Presbyterian ones. The quality of education deteriorated and buildings fell into disrepair. However, in 1998 the government started returning control of these schools to the Presbyterian Church with the charge to see them restored to their previous high standards of education.
Peachtree’s partners in Pakistan include Forman Christian College in Lahore and the Presbyterian Education Board. Forman was founded by missionaries in 1864 and went on to become known as the “Harvard of the Subcontinent”, educating a large number of government ministers, military figures, educators and business leaders of all backgrounds. Forman was returned to the PC(USA) in 2003 and, under the leadership of Dr. Peter Armacost, has once again become one of the finest colleges in the country. Peachtree member-in-mission, Cheryl Burke, has served at Forman since 2004 and is currently the Dean of Students. In that role she has seen the number of Christian students on campus grow from 20 in 2003 to over 800 today. The economic opportunities that a Forman education provides can transform not only the life of a student but of an entire family. Forman prepares their students to be the future leaders of Pakistan, equipped with the values of self-discipline, integrity, tolerance and respect for others needed to lead Pakistan into the 21st century.
The first Presbyterian grade school was established in 1856 and the Presbyterian Education Board now oversees 15 schools in the Punjab region. The PEB Schools were also nationalized in 1972 and the first ones were returned in 1998, each in need of major restoration and renovation. One of their challenges was also the quality of teachers that the PEB was able to attract. In response to their need to improve teaching standards, Peachtree sent its first team of teachers to Pakistan in 2004 to host week long teacher-training workshops. Since then Peachtree has sent five teacher teams that have trained dozens of PEB educators. Evidence of their effectiveness is easily seen in the vast improvement in their students’ scores on national tests, and the increased number of PEB students that qualify for acceptance into institutions of higher learning in Pakistan, including Forman Christian College.
Together, both Forman Christian College and the Presbyterian Education Board work tirelessly to educate the next generation of leaders in Pakistan. In particular, the educational opportunities they offer to minorities, such as Christians, and to women, provide a way forward for those who would otherwise have very little access to the kind of quality education that can free them from poverty and oppression. Both Forman and the PEB are much-needed models for mutual respect and peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims in Pakistan. They are the hope for the perseverance and continuity of the Church in a place where Christians often experience both repression and reprisal.
• A $1900 scholarship will provide a Christian student at Forman Christian College with one year of tuition, fees, books, room and board. To read a few of the students' testimonials that Peachtree is sponsoring, click here.
• A $576 scholarship will provide a Christian student at a PEB school with one year of tuition, fees, books, room and board.
• For Peachtree member-in-mission Cheryl Burke who serves as Dean of Students at Forman.
• For Christian students who are receiving a top notch education which will open job opportunities otherwise unavailable to them.
• For female students who will be the catalysts of change in Pakistan (educate a woman and she will educate her children).