Students from The Arnewood School in New Milton were given a very special insight into the life of school children in rural Pakistan when they were treated to a visit from a headteacher who had travelled all the way from the Bagrote Valley in Northern Pakistan.
Hashim Ali, headmaster of the B.A.S.E. School situated in Gilgit, visited Arnewood as part of a four-month fact finding mission to England.
B.A.S.E. (which stands for Bagrote Association for Social Enhancement) serves the predominantly Shia Muslim rural community in the valley.
Its mission is to provide education for both boys and girls that will help give them greater prosperity and aspiration.
The school’s curriculum is partly taught in English and Mr Ali’s visit to these shores was to help further his knowledge of the language.
He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Arnewood students for the day and was thrilled to be able to tell them about my school, our culture and our religion.
“I was touched by the interest the students showed, their intelligent questions and the warmth shown to me by the whole school.”
Hashim’s school is a world away from the facilities at The Arnewood School.
The 450 students there are taught in nine simple classrooms, with many lessons conducted outside – whatever the weather.
There is not enough classroom furniture for everyone so many students conduct their learning seated on the ground – and internet access is unheard of in the valley.
Headteacher of The Arnewood School, Chris Hummerstone, said: “It was a privilege to welcome Mr Ali to our school and hear of the amazing work he and his colleagues are doing for children in a very rural part of Pakistan.
“Our students were genuinely fascinated to hear how young people in another country are taught.
“It also brought home how we can sometimes take education in this country for granted and how precious it is for many children in parts of the world.”