Thirty years after nationalizing private colleges and schools, Pakistan agreed on March 18 to return Forman Christian College in Lahore to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its partner churches. Jubilant Christians are making plans to reclaim the school's Christian heritage.

"In 1972 there were 1,500 students, and over 170 of them were Christians," says Salim Bhatti, a local Presbyterian. "Today there are over 4,000 students, and only 11 of them are Christians."

The government took over the schools in 1972 to provide equal education opportunities for all, but Islamic values became dominant. Rooms and auditoriums received new Muslim names. Academic standards changed, and the numbers of Christian students and professors quickly declined. Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that the government had overstepped its bounds and must return the schools. The formal handover is scheduled for October 5.

Bhatti says the college, which counts President Pervez Musharraf among its graduates, will begin cutting the number of teachers from the current 207 to no more than 150. The number of Christian teachers may grow from the current 5 or 6 to 100. A key goal is educating more Christians.

"We want to receive as many Christian students as come," Bhatti says. "Our purpose is to not refuse admission of any Christian student who has proven that he or she has the proper academic qualifications and a desire to study."


Related Elsewhere



Additional coverage includes:

Pakistan returns Christian college after 3 decades—Canadian Bible Society (March 19, 2002)

For more stories on Pakistan, see our World Report.

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