LAMS is a school in the rural town of Sultan Town, outside the million city of Faisalabad in Pakistan. The school offers education at pre-school, primary and secondary level, and was established in 1996 by the businessman, humanist and feminist Yawar H Bokhari, who lived in Lillehammer, but who wanted to give something back to the country of his birth.
The school was created as a social entrepreneur initiative in collaboration with the Bokhari weaving mill (Norpak International) wall-to-wall which designs, manufactures and exports textile and interior products to the Norwegian and Scandinavian markets.
In the first years, from 1996 to 1998, the school offered primary education from 1st to 5th grade - for around 150 girls and boys. With its five classrooms and three teachers and a principal, the foundations were laid for the future. Later, the school was expanded with new classrooms, more teachers and many more students.
LAMS currently offers preschool, primary and secondary education to nearly 1,000 girls and boys aged 4 to 17. Boys are offered schooling up to 5th grade, while girls are offered a total of 12 years of schooling. Between 20 and 30 girls graduate each year, all of whom are offered scholarships for further education at university level.
Through the unique collaboration with the Bokhari weaving mill, all the children of the approximately 450 employees at the factory are offered free education. Other children in Sultan Town are offered subsidized schooling, paying only a nominal sum.
Ever since its establishment in 1996, LAMS has distinguished itself as a pioneer in equality with very positive ripple effects for the local community in Sultan Town. Despite many challenges and setbacks, the school has passed and contributes daily to creating a better and more enlightened everyday life for hundreds of students.
With the scholarship scheme in place, LAMS can also offer graduating students further opportunities after LAMS and many take the opportunity to continue their education at local universities and colleges. This not only gives them higher education, but also new and expanded job opportunities.
Among the graduates from LAMS today we find teachers, bank clerks, health workers, engineers, police and businesswomen. Many of the girls are the first in their families to be able to read and write - and several of them today contribute to the family's main income.
But most importantly: the self-confidence and knowledge that the students acquire during their time at LAMS cannot be taken away from them, regardless of what happens to them later in life - it will follow these girls through thick and thin, for the rest of their lives.
With inspiration from the Norwegian struggle for equality, the spirit of service and the education system, the dream of LAMS became a reality, and has opened the way for several thousand girls to have and are given the opportunity to be carriers of development, agents of change and role models.