‘…much, very much, is expected of you. I trust you will use well the opportunities here afforded of you both for your education and for the formation of your character … This is an institution from which you will banish everything in thought and word and act that is mean, dishonorable or impure, and in which you will cultivate everything that is virtuous, true, manly and gentlemanly’ Sir Charles Umpherston Aitchison addressing the First Batch in 1886.
Formed on the 3rd of November, 1886, Aitchison College Lahore is one of the finest institutions in South Asia. Providing its students with a campus that is second to none, Aitchison College aims to provide its students with the perfect mix of studies, extra curricular activities and sports; so that it may produce well rounded individuals, who are the future of this country. The strategies employed by the management of this institution over the past many years have, time and again, proven successful, seeing as how some of the most prominent and influential people of our country have passed through the ranks of Aitchison College.
Amongst the 17,654 students that have passed through its walls to date, there has been a President, 3 Prime Ministers, 7 ministers, 9 chief ministers, 2 national Hockey team captains, and 3 national cricket team captains.
To name a few, Farooq Leghari, Zafar Ullah Jamali, Aitzaz Ahsan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Syed Babar Ali, Hassan Sardar, Ramiz Raja, Majid Khan, and last but not the least, Imran Khan, are all Aitchisonians.
Formed as a part of the Chiefs College, Aitchison took its current name after the inauguration of the campus. The foundation stone was laid down by the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, and is still there for all to see as part of the ‘Old Building’, which was the first building of the school. Moreover, along with the main building, 3 boarding houses were also formed. What is now known as ‘Kelly House’ was for the Muslim boarders, ‘Godley house’ was for the Hindu and Sikh population, and ‘Leslie Jones House’ was for boys on scholarships financed by various districts. Later on, when the need arrived, day scholar houses were also formed, Jubilee being the first of them. There was also a ‘mandir” for the Hindus, and a ‘gurdawara’ for the Sikh population that were formed later on along with the masjid.
Aitchison’s first batch comprised of 12 students, out of which there were six Sikhs, five Muslims, and one Hindu. Nawab Mumtaz Hussain Khan of Pataudi was the first person to enroll, and therefore has the school number of 1.
As the years passed, Aitchison increased the amount of facilities that it provided its students. A cricket pavilion was formed in 1896 and work began on horse riding facilities. Eventually, proper training began in the sports of cricket, hockey and footballs – making Aitchison College’s teams one of the best in the country. A fact that remains intact even today, as year after year Aitchison’s teams compete with other schools in Pakistan as well as with teams from its sister schools in India (YPS Patiala). ACOBA (Aitchison College Old Boys Association) was also established to allow the alumni of the school to compete against the current students in an event that brought together the alumni each year.
Today, Aitchison College has the best sports facilities that any one can hope to provide. So much so that it has hosted cricket matches such as the South African national team vs Mobilink, and the Pakistan national team against Pak Railways. It has also hosted the Pakistan national women’s team twice in recent years, which had come to prepare for the world cup by playing against the college team; losing both times. Furthermore, the school has a total of 3 swimming pools, 4 football fields, 5 hockey fields, 2 cricket grounds with pavilions, tennis and squash courts, basketball courts and horse riding facilities amongst the major sports.
It was only fitting that an institution with such a grand history has something big on its 125th birthday. Like every year on the 3rd of November, since former Principal Shamim Saifullah Khan started it, the GOA (Gentlemen of Aitchison) show was held at the famous Amphitheatre. There was a Jubilee dinner held in the evening organized the Aitchison College Old Boys Association, which was followed by a musical evening by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Exhibition matches were held over the same weekend as well between the current college teams and teams that comprised of the greatest athletes to have walked the immaculately kept fields of Aitchison. Aitchisonians from all over the world come back home for this momentous occasion, all of them united under the blue and yellow flag.
Addressing the school on a special assembly that was called at the Old Building on the 3rd of November, 2011, Principal Fakir Syed Aijazuddin said; ‘For every Aitchisonian, this is a historic day. All of us are part of a continuing tradition that began exactly 125 years today – on 3rd November, 1886. All of us – whether it was No 1 or No 17,654 have one thing in common. We belong to a fraternity that began with an ideal expressed by Sir Charles Aitchison on this very spot – the place where you are standing – 125 years ago. Your presence at this Special Assembly today on this spot is to honour those who founded Aitchison College and all those Aitchisonians who passed through its gates before you. Therefore, when you leave this Assembly, file past the foundation stone that was laid on 3rd November, 125 years ago. And remember that you are privileged to have been here today. By being here you have made history, and become a part of it’
An important part of the schooling at Aitchison is that the students who pass through learn to respect traditions and their importance in our lives. Be it wearing the traditional turquoise turbans every Friday for the General Assembly, or the inter-house sports competitions that are taken very seriously by all, Aitchisonians tend to carry these out with great fervor. In short, an Aitchisonian knows what it means to be an Aitchisonian. They are aware of the glorious history of their school, and its age-old traditions. They are aware of the long list of alumni that have passed through the same school and have done wonders in Pakistan and across the world, and strive to be like them. They know that everyday that they get to walk into the gates, they can hold their head up high, and be proud that they are Aitchisonians. Students here are taught that in all fields of life, success is achieved only through hard work, persistent effort and dedication, regardless of what the task at hand might be. And, this notion thoroughly explains the Aitchisonian motto of ‘Perseverance commands success.’
Original blog can be found here.