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Apr
20

Press Release for the First Quarterly Meeting of 2016

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May
4

American International School System Uses Soft Diplomacy in Pakistan

American International School System Uses Soft Diplomacy in Pakistan

$46billion Chinese investment in Pakistani economy highlights need to support creative methods of maintaining influence among America’s traditional allies

LAHORE, Pakistan, April 30, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Last week’s news of the People’s Republic of China’s $46billionpledge of foreign direct investment in Pakistan has sparked debate between top economic and security analysts. As China continues to gain influence through traditional “hard” diplomacy in the form of economic investment, the United States doesn’t seem to be keeping up. What will this mean for the United State’s sphere of influence as one world’s superpowers? We need creative solutions to repair these seemingly strained relationships with America’s traditional allies after a decade of fighting the Global War on Terror.

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150429/212802

China and Pakistan share a border, and hope to build an “economic corridor” or import/export superhighway between the Chinese region of Xinjiang and the Pakistani port of Gwadar. Reports indicate that Obama administration hopes that an increased Chinese ground presence and the economic development that comes with it will continue to stabilize the region sandwiched betweenAfghanistan to the west and disputed Kashmir territory in the East. On the other hand, others are worried that this show of economic might could signal China’s desire to supplant the United States’ position as influential ally and powerbroker in the region.

What will be interesting to see is how this battle for influence plays out over the next decade or two, especially in the city of Lahore. Located along the path of China’s planned $46billion economic superhighway, Lahore is Pakistan’s second most populous city, and the capital of the Pakistani Province of Punjab. Lahore is also the home of a uniquely different experiment in American style soft diplomacy. Harvard professor Joseph Nye developed the concept of soft diplomacy in 1990. Nye’s theory was that a country attracts diplomatic influence by building credibility with the citizenry through actions of good will attracting interest in their systems of values and stressing commonalities over differences. This is markedly different than traditional showings of old style “stick and carrot” diplomacy method of influencing world leaders. This philosophy of soft diplomacy was the inspiration behind Pakistani born American philanthropist Dr. Munr Kazmir’s dream to build the American International School System’s flagship campus in Lahore.

At the 12-acre suburban campus, Dr. Kazmir’s team built a world-class educational institution completely unique in that part of the world. Currently the school has 600 students and aims to double enrollment in the next few years. The school features a technology center, a swimming pool and gathering place in the center of campus modeled to look like the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. What is distinctly American about AISS Lahore Campus is not just the American style curriculum, but how the institution embodies Dr. Kazmir’s vision to become a part of the fabric of the community. AISS is a place of equal opportunity for all. Over two thirds of AISS’s students are on some form of financial aid with many receiving full scholarships. The school is non-elitist and promotes gender equality where boys and girls compete academically side-by-side. On weekends local children are invited to use the school’s library whether they are enrolled in AISS or not. What is truly remarkable is that the campus has the look, sound and feel of a normal American elementary school, even though it is located half way around the world. The focus is on the children, and parents are impressed.

While the effects of this soft diplomacy approach may not be as easily or immediately visible as China’s grand commitment for investment. AISS hopes to foster community that produces some of the next generation of Pakistani leaders. AISS was founded to build relationships between Pakistani youth and American children and promote the benefits of a progressive, open and free society with equal opportunity for all who were willing to work for success.

“For all citizens of Pakistan to live in a truly free, modern society, there will have to be a radical change of values. Leading by example will succeed where economic aid has failed in the past.” Dr. Munr Kazmir

Pakistan has been at war with itself over these values for years. In former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was tragically assassinated in 2007, Pakistan elected a woman to hold the highest office in the land. It is also the birthplace of the most recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who miraculously survived a violent attack by extremists seeking to punish her for the crime of daring to earn an education while female. Dr. Kazmir hopes that his school can make a long lasting impact on this inner struggle in the country of his birth. Dr. Kazmir recently articulated his vision at bi-partisan meeting of American members of Congress, “For all citizens of Pakistan to live in a truly free, modern society, there will have to be a radical change of values. Leading by example will succeed where economic aid has failed in the past.”

Dr. Kazmir went on to say further, “This is why it is so important that we, the American people support experiments like the American International School System. Exposure to American values of religious tolerance and multiculturalism will help breed understanding among the everyday citizens in the region. Most importantly, the value of education and equality amongst men and women could help usher in a new, peaceful, modern Pakistan within this current century.” Chinese investment may bring development along the economic super corridor, but as Malala Yousafzai said in July 2013 at the United Nations Youth Takeover Day, “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution, education first.”

The American International School System Foundation and Advisory Board are headquartered in Leonia, NJ.

SOURCE American International School System Foundation

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Apr
6

AISS Featured on Huffington Post

The Founder and president of the American International School System, Dr. Munr Kazmir’s article about the school was featured on huffingtonpost.com today. Read the article here or below.

Transforming the World… One School at a Time
by Dr. Munr Kazmir

In the heart of the Punjab, an ancient Pakistan province that takes pride in a history of Mogul lords and ancient traditions, and whose culture defines what most Westerners know as “Pakistan,” only twelve percent of citizens have a favorable impression of the United States. The U.S. is viewed as an adversary of Islam, a belief often based on ideologies that have alienated youth not just from the West, but also from their own country and the citizens of Pakistan.

In the U.S., almost daily, cable news reports another bomb exploding in Peshawar — a drone attack along the Tribal Area border — or, a possible terrorist in Europe or the U.S., trained in a camp in Pakistan. Rarely do Americans hear of the struggles, frustrations, and fears of Pakistan’s youth. And equally rare is the opportunity for Pakistani citizens to learn about people in the U.S..

One man, a Pakistan-American, refuses to accept the status quo. “We must try to understand each other. It is essential to recognize our common interests and celebrate our separate traditions.” He has created a school in the capital of the Punjab that flies an American flag. The American International School System, AISS, a school filled with eager Pakistani students who are taught by young Pakistani and American teachers, learning about American freedom and democracy — expanding their vision of themselves in the world, and their commitment to Pakistan.

Historically, a primary role of education has been to transmit culture from one generation to another through a deliberate and planned process, passing forward the values, traditions, and knowledge necessary for the preservation of society. At AISS, teachers instill insights into both Pakistani and U.S. cultures. American values such as equality, individualism, and competitiveness are embedded in the curriculum, while preserving the traditional Pakistani values such as Burkhurdari (respect), Sabar (patience), Ilyhaaz (preserving others’ sentiments), and Ghairat (honor).

The challenge for faculty and families is to preserve these values and recognize the power of continuity in the preservation of society, while simultaneously inspiring youth to become agents of change.

But, Pakistan presents a dilemma — which Pakistan is to be preserved, and what should change? Pakistan has a multitude of political groups, and militant groups, each with its own agenda. Society is fragmented and many Pakistan youth in rural and urban areas are isolated, living a life of chaos, without sufficient skills to enter the workplace or the incentive to prosper, or to voice their concerns.

“Prosperity and freedom and peace are not just American hopes,” I said. “They are universal human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of Central Asia, we believe education provides opportunities and hope for the future, and the transformation of lives and nations.”

Founded in 2007, the American International School System is providing an American-based education to Muslim children. Through education, AISS hopes to help Pakistan become more prosperous, secure, democratic and better able to stand up against violence and extremism while transforming the American and Pakistani relationship, even if it’s only one student at a time.

Many of the country’s youth are isolated from others of their age, and have little contact with the larger world outside Pakistan. Such challenges require a long-term commitment to youth. If structural change in society is to transform Pakistan, and allow it to be at peace with its neighbors, it must emulate AISS, and begin by reaching out to the youth.

Fifty percent of the population is not yet twenty, and with more than two-thirds not yet 30 years old, they have few opportunities to engage in the community and fewer mentors to guide their development. Only 30 percent of the school children ever make it to high school. Only one-third can read a short story while half cannot even write a complete sentence. UNESCO tells us by 2015 that Pakistan will have the highest number of unemployed youth in the world, and by the year 2050, the world’s third highest population.

Within the challenge lies opportunity; Pakistan can redefine its future and the role of education in people’s lives. In order to do so, youth must be convinced of their own potential and that of each other, to not only survive but to adapt and learn. There is a growing awareness among provincial youth of the power of education, and, a growing momentum for change that lies with the elite young leaders of Pakistan.

I had said: “We’re taking our cause to the chalkboard… to foster a sense of critical thinking and confidence that’s required to develop leaders that consider multiple perspectives, value diversity and promote cultural understanding.”

Youth want to be educated, to have job skills and be competitive in the global marketplace. “We feel that through education we can get a lot done,” says the school’s principal Mark Rozic, who is originally from the state of Pennsylvania. “We’re demonstrating that the United States is a partner in their efforts to create positive changes in their country. And, we want to show that the American people are good people, hard working and that we are here to help in anyway that we can.”

The school’s target demographic is both the lower-income class and lower-middle income class. While it is a private tuition-based school, more than eighty-seven percent of students receive financial aid through the school’s foundation, The American International School System Foundation. Without this critical help, AISS could not reach and help the children in Pakistan expand their vision of themselves in the world.

“As Americans, we feel that we know the value of education, and sometimes we think it’s obvious to everyone else. But it’s not,” I stated. “We are doing our part not only to educate children at our school, but to educate as many as we can reach including parents, grand-parents and brothers and sisters, even if the only thing we are giving them is knowledge about the real value of education.”

The American Education model at AISS offers learning opportunities for both faculty and families that foster sustainable growth through out the AISS school system, while respecting and honoring cultures and traditions. The curriculum is structured just as it would be at a high-quality school in the United States. “We use an American curriculum and textbooks and teach in English,” said Principal Rozic. “We will give our kids a U.S. high school diploma, and enable them to go to colleges and universities around the world.”

“It’s our fervent belief that the work we are doing will strengthen ties between our two countries, not just today, but in the future,” I had said.

The American International School System was launched with just seven preschool and kindergarten students. Today there are two hundred students from preschool through eighth grade with enrollment expected to expand to a thousand students over the next five years. Education Specialist, Dr. Judith Findlay, collaborates with AISS to support the expansion of the AISS model of excellence in education. “This is an experiment in education, she states, that is unique in the Muslim World. AISS integrates community life into the life of each of its schools, and empowers students to become leaders and life-long learners. This is a worthy and obtainable goal.”

“Right now we are pre-school through eighth grade. Soon, we will be adding a high school,” said Rozic.

With a $10 million investment, AISS constructed one of the most modern state-of-the-art campuses in Pakistan. It is the first educational institution to be fully handicapped accessible. The expansive eleven-and-a-half acre campus provides resources for environmental science, agricultural research, sports, and a setting for study of the arts. The campus contains an amphitheater, swimming pool, cafeteria, a hi-tech auditorium, libraries, a main computer lab and computers in all classrooms.

In addition to regular classroom activities, the facilities are used for other advanced educational and civic activities sponsored by the school. These include on-going basic and advanced Professional Development for staff and teachers from the Pakistani school system as well as mentoring programs for children and adults. But, it’s what happens in the classroom that’s most important to the man who envisioned the American flag, flying each day in the heart of the Punjab.

“I want my students to believe that if they work hard enough, they can become anything and do anything,” I noted. “I want to challenge our students, ‘If your father is a gardener, then so what? You can still become an engineer, a doctor, a military officer or the leader of your country… That’s the American virtue we want to share. It’s a truly democratic way of thinking and it’s always at the forefront of our minds when we walk into school each morning.”

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Dec
22

Teaching American Democratic Values In Pakistan – RADIO INTERVIEW

Rita Cosby interviews The American International School System Foundation board member Richard Pinal on Tuesday, December 20, 2011on WOR News Talk Radio about teaching American values and democracy in Lahore, Pakistan.

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Sep
26

An American Education In Pakistan – RADIO INTERVIEW

Rita Cosby interviews The American International School System Founder Dr. Munr Kazmir on Friday, September 23, 2011on WOR News Talk Radio about teaching American values and democracy in Lahore, Pakistan.

Transcript

Rita Cosby: What is even more important, and I think even more heroic, out of what our next guest is doing, I want to bring in Doctor Munr Kazmir. He is the CEO and founder of I think one of the most incredible and important projects out there. It’s called the American International School System and it is a school breathing democracy and freedom – those important and powerful messages and guess where it is? In the heart of Pakistan. And joining us now is Doctor Kazmir. What a pleasure to have you on, sir.

Dr. Kazmir: Likewise, Rita.

Rita Cosby: How did you come up with this idea? I think it is so important especially as we hear the words of Mike Mullen talking about terrorism and maybe inter-relationships with the ISI behind maybe some attacks. Having an American school in Pakistan is courageous and I think so important Doctor Kazmir.

Dr. Kazmir: After 9/11 we came up with an idea to build relationships between children to children. And, that’s why we started the American school in 2007. And we have had another successful great year – thank God. We are growing an eighth grade. Our school will be starting an eighth grade and starting next year a high school. We have new students and so many new faces and I tell you that we are doing an amazing job: getting a scholarship to the children of law enforcement and the media and the poor children. And, we have a – through education, especially early education, we take children from the age of three or four and we teach them what America is all about and an American education and teach with American teachers. So it’s an amazing job we are doing. We have a plan to build the school housing for the American teachers. This year we will also be adding two hundred and seventy new students and building a boarding for the new students. Our high school can hold up to twelve hundred kids. And, this is important because we need to build a strong relationship between our two nations – children to children. And that is what we are focusing on. I agree with Mike Mullen because on one hand this is unfortunately what’s happening. But we continue to grow and educating their children and give them an American education and American values.

Rita Cosby: Well that’s what I was wondering Doctor Kazmir, do you think that you can sort of break the cycle by doing that especially starting at the younger and showing them there is this great way called democracy. And terrorism, poverty, those things are not the way to go. Having an education and having hope…

Dr. Kazmir: You know Rita, when you take kids three or four years old, and the youngest kids in the family, you teach them what America is all about – democracy, equal rights, opportunity, he is going to tell his family, brothers and sisters, parents and other family, and tell them American values – I think that is where we can start. And, we are doing an amazing job and I tell you, I thank all the listeners who helped us to build the library. We have a great library where we put American books and computers and all the modern technology. So we are doing this and I think it’s day-by-day but we are making a difference.

Rita Cosby: And, by the way, you have been honored by many people across the country. I know that Governor Chris Christie’s recognized your work. Representative Carolyn Maloney in New York. So many others have given you a lot of accolades. Why do you think, as an American, it’s important to do this? You obviously have such a passion and you such a devotion to this country. Why did you think it was critical?

Dr. Kazmir: Through education and what you’re mentioning all this happening because if we teach the child through early age, he understands what America is all about. And that is what we need. So I think we have – you know we spend a lot of money on universities and at colleges but we are not really focusing on the early education.

Rita Cosby: Where do you get the funds and how tough is it set to get this. Do people recognize the importance?

Dr. Kazmir: Well, some people they do. And, I am funding this one and we have a lot of friends from around the world, especially from the United States and they’re helping us by contributing through our foundation – AISSFoundation.org. They go and contribute. And through that we are making a difference. We have a lot of American teachers. We have a young man from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Missouri and Michigan and they traveled and they are making a difference teaching young Muslim children. And, I think if you called a hero it’s the young American at twenty-two, twenty-four or twenty-five years old they are teaching Muslim children day-by-day and making a difference. And our impact is not only in Lahore – we have a school in Lahore but we are beyond Lahore. We bring the teachers from all over the country to teach them and now they can go back and give the lecture to their classroom. And so the American School is doing amazing stuff.

Rita Cosby: Well you’re doing amazing stuff and I hope you inspire other people who are listening out there because it shows that one person can make a huge difference and you being in the heart of Pakistan with an incredible school called the American International School System. I really applaud you Doctor Kazmir and it’s great to have you on.

Dr. Kazmir: Likewise, Rita but it’s everybody. If I would say it’s a school and I am just a person, it’s about America. It does not belong to me – it’s America’s school so it’s everybody that’s a partner here. So please if you have – go to AISSFoundation.org.

Rita Cosby: OK so it’s AISS – as in American International School System – AISSFoundation.org to get more information about this amazing school which is making a huge difference in the heart of Pakistan – pushing for democracy, peace and, American values. Congratulations in all you do. Hope to have you back on again, sir.

Dr. Kazmir: Thank you; I look forward, Thank you, bye-bye.

Rita Cosby: And, everybody we will be right back. What an amazing person and I think really a message of making a difference.

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Jul
20

Girls have a 40/60 chance of finishing primary education in Pakistan

Approximately 41% of Pakistani girls fail to complete primary schooling, according to a report published by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) entitled “Make It Right: Ending the Crisis in Girls’ Education.”

Educating girls and women is one of the most important investments a society can make.

Not only does it help them build self-confidence, make informed decisions, critically evaluate information, which is crucial in the battle against extremism — it has a economic multiplier effect. That’s because educated women are key to a more educated workforce, an efficient labor force, higher productivity, and a greater progress of economic development. Their children are also healthier, and better educated, as they use their own education to nurture the next generation.

The biggest barrier to girl’s education in Pakistan is a lack of access. According to a different report by the United Nations in 2010, 80% of primary schools in rural areas of Pakistan are open to boys while only 50 percent were open to girls.

The American International School System is already helping to redress this issue by providing a primary education for both boys and girls. We believe that if girls are given the chance to learn and thrive in safe schools with good teachers, it will lead to a more secure and prosperous Pakistan.

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Jul
11

The Real Pakistan Challenge: Education For All

Published in the Asia Despatch
by Muhammad Younas Afridi & Barbara Gallo

“According to several studies and panel of experts, the revival of Pakistan, and especially the tribal areas, will take place starting from schools. The challenge of education is really important because it allows for stopping the fundamentalism drift which has taken the country. But it is schools that are the ‘number one target’ of the Taliban, which have long since declared war for all. But up to now most of public resources and large part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are allocated in army and security tools and also the international community, primarily USA, allocates military aid and weapons, without looking at the real needs of the people, who are tired of violent attacks.

“Education is indeed the real ‘national emergency’, more than economics and security. The threat of the Talibans find its strength in subjugating the masses or annihilating the few dissenting voices; extremist feed on the poor education of people. In fact, ‘with a population of 180 million people, almost half of which is less than 18 years of age, Pakistani youth are the demographic dividend who will determinate the country’s future progress. When in fact children miss out on their right to education, it is not only they who suffer the consequences through loss opportunities in life, but the entire social, cultural and economic peaceful development of the countries loses, too.'”

Read the Full Article Here.

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Jul
6

Chief Minister of Punjab Says Elimination of Terrorism and Extremism a Must for Investment in Pakistan

LONDON, (APP): The visiting Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said without eradicating the scourge of extremism and terrorism, Pakistan cannot progress nor attract foreign investment in the country. Addressing the South Asian business community here last evening, he said the foreign entrepreneurs were reluctant to do business in Pakistan even though the country has liberal investment policies because of the poor law and order situation brought about by terrorist activities.

“We cannot allow our country to go down as we all have to stand up and face and fight the problem collectively.” – Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif

Read the Full Article Here.

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Jul
5

Research Backs English as Key to Development

A study into the economic impact of learning English in developing countries has concluded that the language can increase the earning power of individuals by around 25% and that developing economies need access to English if they are to grow and position themselves in the global economy.

Read the full article here.

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Jun
20

The Foundation Has a Goal of Raising $20k for Scholarships

The Foundation aims to double the annual AISS scholarship award level over the next two years. 87% of students attending the American International School System in Pakistan are on scholarship.

These scholarships would not be possible without all of the help and support of the Foundation.

The core of our teaching is to create well-rounded citizens by replacing ignorance with knowledge and building cultural bridges with the United States that develop hope, tolerance and understanding.

By providing a world-class education, The American International School System Foundation is helping Pakistan become more prosperous, secure and democratic.

The Scholarship Program of the Foundation is funded entirely with donations and we ask you to join us in our cause to fight illiteracy and help us bring hope and happiness to the children of Pakistan.

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