Montessori About Us
The Pakistan Montessori Association
Established in 1949 by Dr. Maria Montessori and re-activated in 1964 by Mrs. Gool K Minwalla.
PMA’s activities include:
Overseeing the Urdu translation of Dr. Montessori’s books.
Printing books by Dr. Montessori, locally.
Organising workshops and propagating Dr. Montessori’s philosophy.
Running a Montessori school.
Publishing a quarterly newsletter, ‘The Montessorian’, for free distribution to its members.
Registering schools and making school visits.
The Pakistan Montessori Association was established in 1949. Dr. Maria Montessori was invited by Mrs. Gool Minwalla to Karachi to inaugurate the first Pakistan Montessori Teacher’s Training Course. Mrs. Minwalla was fortunate to have studied and worked with Dr. Maria Montessori, who held her in high esteem. She was the pioneer and guiding force behind the Montessori movement in Pakistan. It was her fervour and commitment which established the Montessori training course and revolutionized the early education for preschool children. It also provided countless women the ability to earn an independent living.
PMA remained inactive in the new state until 1964 when Mrs. Gool Minwalla represented Pakistan at the Montessori World Congress in Amsterdam. The second Montessori training was held in 1966. Dr. Maria Montessori’s son, Mr. Mario Montessori and Ada Montessori came to Karachi to examine the students of the course. After this began the major activity of training teachers, parents and adults who worked with children. Mrs. Minwalla had a group of dedicated helpers like Mrs. Majida Sufi, Mrs. Gul Thanavalla, Mrs. Shireen Wania, Mrs. Arifa Saifie, Mrs. Habiba Thobani and Mrs. Piroja Irani who were the mainstay of the PMA training and activities. The next batch of dedicated workers who carried on the good work included Mrs. Gool Rustomjee, Mrs. Dolly Patel, Mrs. Arnavaz Dinshaw, Mrs.Zohra Gaya and Mrs. Farida Akbar. The training was brought in line with the International standard in 70s and Mrs. Gool Rustomjee and Mrs. Arnavaz Dinshaw were main helpers of Mrs. Gool Minwalla. Later, Mrs Minwalla was ably supported by Mrs. Anisa Moin. External Examiners came every year and AMI International Diplomas were given to the successful candidates. Montessori Directresses multiplied and Montessori schools were opened.
Later, Mrs. Farida Akbar joined the Managing Committee and was guided by the PMA faculty. She was best qualified academically in the committee and was chosen by AMI to train in London. Fortunately for the PMA, after two years of understudy in London she qualified as the trainer. When Mrs. Minwalla was keeping indifferent health she participated in training and lecturing helped by the PMA faculty. Thus, 34 couses were held under the aegis of PMA, when the Association Montessori Internationale decided to form a separate Teachers Training Institute in Karachi under Mrs. Farida Akbar.
In 1985, the 20th International Montessori Congress was organized at Karachi by PMA. It was the first international congress to be held in South Asia. Dr. Maria Montessori’s grandson, Dr. Mario Montessori, Jr., Renilde Montessori and Mr. Portillieje, President AMI, the Netherlands, attended the Congress. Over 300 delegates participated. Of these more than one third attended from 14 countries outside Pakistan. It was a huge success.
In 1990, the 23rd Montessori Teacher Training Course was held in Lahore. It was the first training course outside Karachi, and was inaugurated by Dr. Mario Montessori, Jr. Thus Montessori schools were opened in Lahore and Islamabad.
Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan, Begum Shaista Ikramullah and Begum Nasra Wazirali were among the distinguished persons who have served as the Chief Patrons of the Association. At present the Chief Patron is Professor Anita Ghulamali.
The PMA regularly organizes workshops for its members on various Montessori topics. The pedagogical committee also visits Montessori schools and registers them with the Association if they are being run on Montessori grounds. Further, it runs a school, by the name of Montessori Children’s Villa, for 100 children.
2007 was the centenary year of the establishment of the first school by Dr. Maria Montessori in the suburbs of Rome, Italy. The PMA celebrated the year by unveiling a plaque at the Jamshed Memorial Hall where the first training course was held under Dr. Montessori, organizing a Walk for Montessori children at the Mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam and holding an Art Exhibition of children of Montessori schools and finally, organizing a Seminar on Parental Guidance at the Aga Khan University Hospital Auditorium for parents, teachers and general public. Montessori Teachers Training Centre also participated in this Seminar.
The Association plans to adopt a school for the underprivileged in a slum area as soon as its finances permit it to realize this dream. In the meantime, the Association is already helping out by way of guidance in establishment of proper Montessori schools all over the city.