8 APRIL, 1946 7 JUNE 2012
A beloved daughter, wife, mother and grandmother
A revered teacher, mentor & inspiration
Her life a beautiful memory
Her absence a silent grief
Mrs. Kassim championed a vision for education in Pakistan that drew fully from our history and traditions, while also looking forward to the future, embracing innovation, technology and a global perspective. Her vision encompassed a profound respect for each individual and challenged each of us to recognise that Pakistans true strength lies in its diverse talents. Throughout her life, she was a voice for children, advocating quality education for all and especially promoting education for girls. One of her principle beliefs was that high-quality education required an educator to develop a close relationship with children and their parents. She believed the world could be changed by nurturing each childs unique strengths.
Her lifelong dedication to achieving peace and dignity for all, through global relationships based in mutual respect, has served to instill a broader and deeper sense of duty in each member of the Karachi High School family. When reflecting on her legacy, let us be reminded that each of us has the right to realise our full potential while we also have the duty to serve as responsible citizens and conscientious stewards of justice, fair play and respect for all.
Mrs. Parveen Kassim, nee Parveen Hashmi, was born on 8th April, 1946 in Delhi, India. She was the only child born to Major Aftab Hashmi Suhrawardi and Begum Zeba Hashmi. Her parents doted on her and she became the apple of her fathers eye. Though they showered her with love, her parents also instilled high principles and a sense of community service. Never did they let her feel that her choices were limited because she was a girl. Instead, they encouraged her to believe that no challenge was too large, and no dream beyond her reach. She always warmly praised her father for molding her into the strong, independent and fearless person she grew up to be.
Born into a family that held education, culture and service to mankind in the highest esteem, she grew up surrounded by great philosophers, artists, poets and intellectuals. Her grandfather, Haji Hafiz Mohammad Hanif Hashmi Suhrawardi had served as the Honorary Principal of Tibbia College, New Delhi, India. At partition, her parents moved to Karachi to start a new life and their young daughter grew up carefree and happy. From a very young age she had a great love for animals, adopting crows, eagles, tortoises, geese, dogs, horses and may other animals as pets.
Her early education was at St. Josephs Convent where she excelled but was also known for her fun-loving pranks. She completed her Senior Cambridge at only 14, and then went on to graduate with honours from St. Josephs College and the University of Karachi. At the celebration of 150 years in 2012 of St. Josephs Convent, Mrs. Kassim was proud to be recognised by her alma mater when she received the Woman of Substance Award.
From a young age, she had a passion for teaching and collected all the children and workers in her neighbourhood for free tuitions at her home. She got married in 1968 to Mr. Kassim Fadoo but continued to balance her career with her role as a homemaker and mother. In 1974, she joined the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Karachi as an English teacher. With over fifteen years of teaching experience, Mrs. Kassim finally realised her dream of setting up her own school in 1985.
On 14th January, 1985, Karachi High School opened with eleven students, preparing the first lot for Matriculation by 1989. Mrs. Kassims school quickly gained recognition with many accolades for her as a pioneering figure in the field of education. She was an innovator who kept abreast with the latest advances in education, ensuring her school kept pace with international standards. KHS was the first school in Karachi to set up a computer lab, register its own website; acquire interactive whiteboards and classroom laptops, introduce video conferencing in Pakistan, the first and only in Pakistan to become a member of the Little League Baseball, USA and to adopt IGCSEs. Through her tireless efforts, KHS students have travelled the world, visiting countries such as the UK, USA, Poland, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.
In 1995, at the age of forty-eight, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although the illness required her to have three surgeries, she never let her illness stand in her way. Instead, she put all her energy and zest into developing a uniquely personalised, coeducational, egalitarian school with children from all communities in Karachi. She prided herself on nurturing each childs talents, with the strong conviction that every child had a gift to offer the world. She chose to have only one campus so she could dedicate her life to developing a special relationship with each child and their families.
In 2000, Mrs. Kassim founded the International Schools Educational Olympiad, an inter-school meet hosted by KHS, that brings together students from all across the world on one platform to compete and to exchange ideas and knowledge. Thousands of students from all across Pakistan as well as from countries such as India, UK and USA have taken part in ISEO over the years. Through ISEO, Mrs. Kassim forged lifetime relationships with the global schools community developing such meaningful connections that these ties continue to hold strong even after she is gone.
In Calcutta, India in 2004, The Telegraph awarded Mrs. Kassim the Beyond Borders Award, in the presence of Sonia Gandhi, for building peaceful ties amongst the youth of India and Pakistan.
On March 30th 2012, Mrs. Kassim was given the high honour of being the first person not from the North or South America to receive the Global Education Motivators’ Global Educator Award at the United Nations in New York. She was given the award for going above and beyond the call of duty in order to ensure that students receive a strong global education foundation. She was too ill to travel to attend the award ceremony but, not to be defeated she connected with the ceremony via Skype. By the time the award arrived, she was in the hospital as a result of her cancer. She continued to come to school till her very last days passing away on Thursday, 7th June, 2012 at the National Medical Centre in Karachi, Pakistan. She was 66 years old and is survived by her husband, four daughters, four grand children, her beloved teachers and the thousands of students who inspired her, motivated her and filled her life with joy.