In every field from cricket to poetry, Pakistan has so much talent that goes to waste because it isn't discovered and nurtured. Art is no different.

A student explaining the artwork to visitors.
A student explaining the artwork to visitors.

Zindagi Trust is striving to discover the Sadequains hiding in Pakistan's government schools. This Saturday, Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School hosted an Art Show where some exciting art by students from two government schools was on display.

Citizens from all walks of life came out to support the budding artists and echoed the trust's cause of bringing art to government schools. Parents thronged the event in big numbers and were wowed by the talents of their students. Artists, art educators, public art activists, government officials, media personalities and other representatives from the non-profit sector also attended the event.

Ambreen Kureshi, who heads art at St Joseph's Convent and Nixor College, inaugurated the show.

Students' artwork on display.
Students' artwork on display.

"I had no idea art would be done with so much passion at a government school - the diversity of the work and the effort of the students and teachers is evident," she said. "Judging this show was not easy - kudos to the school management for making art a priority."

Students' pottery on display.
Students' pottery on display.

The exhibition featured pencil portraits, acrylics painting, collages, pottery and crafts as well as beautiful reinterpretations of impressionism and cubism.

Hunza Dawoodi Band entertained the art enthusiasts and students with some soulful music on the rubab, dadang and flute. Shaheer Khan stunned the audience with a mind-blowing mystery performance reading the minds of the visitors.

Founder Shehzad Roy shared the trust's story and its vision for government school reform.

The trust manages the two participating government schools - Khatoon-i-Pakistan Government School and SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School - and has transformed the infrastructure, enrolment, parental engagement and student development at the school.

Zindagi Trust Founder Shehzad Roy with visitors and guests.
Zindagi Trust Founder Shehzad Roy with visitors and guests.

"We believe in giving our students a taste of every discipline - from science and football to chess and art - so that we can help them discover their talents and hone them into the best version of themselves," said Founder and President of Zindagi Trust, Shehzad Roy.

"I am so proud that our government school students are confidently educating our visitors about movements like impressionism and cubism."

Artists and educators from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture Masuma Halai Khuaja, Nasheed Imran and also judged the show and said they were overwhelmed by the quality of the work. They, along with Bina Ali, also suggested that the school should be made one of venues of Karachi Biennale because it has already established itself as a haven of ideas and creativity and peace in the area.

GOC Malir General Zahid Mahmood visited the school and expressed his surprise at the depth of the work the trust has done to transfrom the school.

"I will take some of these ideas - like chess and creative children's books - back to Malir Cantt schools," he added. He also announced a donation of PKR 1 million for a project for the SMB Fatima Jinnah Government School Campus.

Khalid Mahmood, MD and CEO of Getzpharma and a keen supporter of the arts, also vowed to support the students who were interested in exhibiting their work. SP Clifton Tauqeer termed the student talent "amazing" and pledged to give a special prize to the best student pottery. Corporate trainer and television personality Sidra Iqbal was also present at the event and vowed to support the reform project through motivational career talks for the students. The Akram Foundation continued their support for the Trust's and brought brownies and cake for the student artists.

Many visitors expressed a desire to buy the student art to support the children in making a decision to choose art as a career.

Government officials like the Taluka Education Officer, Chief Monitoring Officer from the Education Department, Headmaster of DCTO Lyari School, teachers union representatives from GSTA and several teachers and lecturers from neighbouring schools and colleges attended the event and noted that this was a much-needed shift from rote-learning that we have come to associate with our schools.

The show coincided with the school's Result Day, ensuring an even greater turnout of parents who were beaming with pride at their children's art work.

Managers from non-profit organisations such as The Citizens Foundation, Indus Hospital, Right to Play, Ehed Foundation, The Akram Foundation also attended the show. Activist Furhan Hussain said the school shows that it is possible to turn around the depressing state of government education in Sindh. "The trust's impact is evident from the incredible contrast between the environment inside and outside the school and must be such an inspiration for the students."

The two schools participating in the Art Show are managed by Zindagi Trust which has been for responsible for interventions in infrastructure, governance, teacher development and extra-curricular activities like chess, football and life skills based education.

The schools teach art as a weekly subject and cover diverse techniques, media and also art history. Shahnaz Hunzai, Project Manager of the host school, said she values art deeply because it is one of the things which is a source of unconditional happiness, independent of your social status, age, health or current situation.

Anam Shakil Khan, Head of Arts at Zindagi Trust, was specially pleased to see a bustling art show as well as to see how engaged the visitors were. "The goal of this Art Show is to encourage all schools, specially government schools, to teach art to all their students. We really want to collaborate with other schools and are happy to help their teachers in any way."