Aitchison College

Aitchison college

"Rursum puer" (Latin)
"Perseverance Commands Success" (English)
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
School type Private, boarding school
Founded January 2, 1886 as Punjab Chiefs' College
November 13, 1886 as Aitchison College
Principal Michael Alistaer Thomson
Number of students 1100 (senior school)
750 (prep school)
1000 (junior school)
Area 186-acre (0.75 km2)
Publication The Aitchisonian (Consists of Newsletter, Aitchisonian), Comet, The Preppy
Alumni ACOBA (Aitchison College Old Boys' Association)

Aitchison College is an independent, semi-private boys school for boarding and day students from grade 1–13. The school is located in Lahore, Pakistan.

Established in 1886, it has a tradition of providing an education that uses academics, sports, and co-curricular activities as tools for character development. The school follows a curriculum designed to culminate in International GCE O and A Level qualifications and is geared towards preparing students for university education. The institute is a Cambridge Examination Centre.

It was originally formed on January 2, 1886 as the Punjab Chiefs’ College and was renamed Aitchison College on November 13, 1886.[1] The college is celebrating its 130th anniversary in 2016.


Old Building, Aitchison College, Lahore

On November 3, 1886, the Viceroy Earl of Dufferin and Ava laid the foundation stone of the main building. The building was designed by Bhai Ram Singh and built by Sir Ganga Ram, one a leading architect and the other a leading builder of that time.[2]

The College is named after the then Lt. Governor of the Punjab, Sir Charles Umpherston Aitchison, who, addressing the students in 1888, said:

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.[3]


Wards School at Ambala

The history of Aitchison College goes back to the Ward's School at Ambala which was envisioned in 1864 by Captain Tighe, then D.C. of Ambala. Established in 1868, it was originally intended for the education of young princes of the District but on the insistence of Sir Henry Davies, it widened its scope in 1874 to cater for the education of all the other heirs of the Princely states living in other parts of Punjab. The present constitution of Aitchison College is still based on the set of rules framed for the Wards' School.

Chiefs College

The growing interest in the college prompted efforts by Lt. Gen Sir Charles Umpherston Aitchison, after whom the college is named, to expand the Government Wards School into Chiefs College. North Mian Meer Road was initially selected as the new site for Chiefs College and collaboration between Bhai Ram Singh, Vice Principal of Mayo School of Arts and Col. S. S. Jacob, Executive Engineer at Jeypore came up with an architectural design for the college. Even at its beginning, the college was designed to have a science laboratory, library and museum besides classrooms and amenities for students. Under the auspices of the new staff, including the first Principal W. A. Robinson and the famous Urdu poet Altaf Hussain Hali, Chiefs College began educating a modest first batch of 12 boys, who were temporarily accommodated at Abbot Road while construction was in progress. The college was formally inaugurated by the Viceroy, the Earl of Dufferin and Ava on 3 November 1886.

Aitchison College

On November 13, 1886,a few days after the foundation stone of Chiefs College was laid, the school was renamed Aitchison College. Construction of the main building, now known as Old Building, began in 1887 and was finished in 1890, along with a gymnasium and a hospital. Soon after that, the main building became the center of academic life at Aitchison, moving classes away from their previous locations in the boarding houses and rented bungalows. Construction on other buildings continued as the school attracted more wards and princes.

Several efforts were made to provide facilities for physical education. In 1896, a cricket pavilion was built, and work began on a polo field. A year later, training in cricket, football, field hockey, and tennis was started. Following Aitchison's win in local sports competitions, the Aitchison Challenge Cup was established to honor the best sportsmen each year. In 1905, ACOBA (Aitchison College Old Boys Association) was established to allow the alumni of the school to compete against the current students in an event that brought together the alumni each year. In 1907, Aitchison College started sending contingents of sports teams to compete with schools outside Lahore and was allowed to host contingents from other schools. Swimming facilities were developed in 1923 and the Rani of Mandi Cup was established to honor the best swimmer of the year. The sports system soon evolved as competitions between the houses began in 1928. Hockey and tennis courts were established in 1938.

The school also offers several extra-curricular activities and awards. In the first half of the 20th century, the school began to offer awards to some of its top students, he most popular of which were those for best essay writer and best debater. Additionally, the first Rivaz medal for best all-round performance at Aitchison College was created in 1906. The school also first published "Pioneer" publication in 1936. The Prize Distribution Day ceremony, now known as Founders Day, held annually in May, was started in 1892. The Prize Distribution was later divided into two separate ceremonies: Founders Day Academics and Founders Day Sports.

The school also has a history of providing religious education and housing. A mosque was constructed for religious education of Muslim students in 1900, and a Dharamsala was created in 1913. A separate Sikh mess was organized in 1907, followed by the creation of a separate kitchen for Halal food in 1938. A mandir was also constructed, which was later redesigned to hold the Principal's office. Religious education was later made compulsory for Hindu and Sikh students. Until 1933, the school enforced a rule that separate boarding houses should exist for Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs.

Aitchison College has also changed its building make-up over the years. A separate building for the Preparatory School, which now holds classes for grades 6–8, was constructed in 1915, and the prefects system was established two years later. The school became affiliated with Cambridge University in 1933. In 1935, the policy of admission was broadened to include ordinary boys from surrounding areas. Following this policy, a separate house, Jubilee, was established for day boys. Classes for grades 9–13 were shifted from the main building to the newly constructed Barry Block (Senior School) in 1948. Following the independence of Pakistan in 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was appointed Patron in Chief of the College in 1948. A separate building for Junior School, for Grades 1–5, was built in 1964. War between India and Pakistan in 1965 disrupted school activities for a while but normal school year resumed soon after cease fire. A number of modern buildings were constructed on the campus near the end of 20th century, including an amphitheater, a large library, computer and science laboratories, housing for staff members, a riding school, and squash and basketball courts.

Organization and curriculum

Academic organization

Aitchison College is divided into three administrative schools:

Aitchison College is a CIE Centre and follows: Cambridge Primary Curriculum (Grades 2 to 6) Cambridge Secondary Curriculum (Grades 7 to 9) In 2018, Aitchison College will introduce Cambridge IGCSE to replace O Level. In 2020, it will introduce Cambridge International AS and A levels to replace the full A Level.


The Senior School offers preparation for General Certificate of Education (GCE) from University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), following the British Cambridge Assessment (UCLES) system. The grades 9 through 11 are prepared for International GCE Ordinary Level or O Level (equivalent to national Secondary School Certificate or SSC) and grades 12 and 13 are prepared for International GCE Advanced Subsidiary/Advanced Level or AS/A Level (equivalent to national Higher Secondary School Certificate or HSC).

The national 'Matriculation' curriculum was also available to students of grades 9 and 10 who did not wish to pursue the international board examinations until 2002. It was cancelled by Principal Shamim Khan due to structural issues and incompatibility of O level and metric systems. In 2016, Principal Michael Thomson proposed the College adopt Cambridge curricula throughout the whole school. Primary School and Middle School have now adopted Cambridge syllabuses for English, Mathematics and Sciences. In 2018, the College will offer the full IGCSE and Cambridge International AS/A Levels in 2020.

Student life

House system

Each school is subdivided into houses that have members from each grade of that school. Houses are designed to promote inter-house competitions and mentor ship opportunities, led by prefects and house masters. The main boarding houses are the Leslie Jones House, Godley House and Kelly House. Leslie house has been re-opened in 2012, while Godley and Kelly were still functional.

Junior School

  •      Gwyn House
  •      Babur House
  •      Goldstein House
  •      Iqbal House
  •      Jinnah House
  •      Liaqat House
  •      Niazuddin House
  •      Sikander House
  •      Sir Syed House

Prep School

  • Iqbal House
  • Khalid House
  • Liaqat House
  • Magsi House
  • Niazuddin House
  • Qasim House
  • Saigol House
  • Salahuddin House
  • Shershah House
  • Sir Syed House
  • Tariq House

Senior School

  • Alamgir House
  • Babur House
  • Balochistan House
  • Centenary House
  • Ghazi House
  • Goldstein House
  • Godley House
  • Hali House
  • Jinnah House
  • Jubilee House
  • Leslie Jones House
  • Kelly House
  • Robinson House
  • Sikandar House
  • Tajuddin House

School counseling

The Guidance and Career Counseling Office at the College provides students with the most up to date information on universities and modern careers. Applications are sent to universities in US, UK, Canada, Germany, Singapore, Turkey, Netherlands and Pakistan.


Junior School

  • Aerobics (includes Yoga)
  • Art
  • Board Games (includes Chess)
  • Camping
  • Chinese
  • Cooking
  • Dance
  • Dramatics
  • Handwriting
  • Movie Club
  • Music (includes Singing)
  • Nature Watch
  • Poetry
  • Pottery
  • Reading
  • Science Club
  • Word Games (includes Scrabble)

Prep and Senior School

  • Art Club
  • Bazm-e-Adab
  • Chess Society
  • Computer Society
  • Debating Society (English)
  • Debating Society (Urdu)
  • Debating Society
  • Dramatics Club (ACDC) (English)
  • Dramatics Club (Urdu)
  • Entrepreneurial Society
  • Humanitarian and Medical Welfare Club
  • Environment and Nature Club
  • French Club
  • German Club
  • History Club
  • Islamic Society
  • Literary Society
  • Mathematics Society
  • Model United Nations Society
  • Music Society
  • Quiz Society
  • Science Society
  • Toby Club

Physical education

Students have to enroll in two sports at the beginning of each winter. In summer, one sport is chosen other than swimming, which is compulsory. The choices include athletics, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, lawn tennis, water polo, riding, squash, badminton, and table tennis.[4] Senior School Students take part in the NCC training or The Navy Cadet Corps training.


See also


  1. "Aitchison College History". Retrieved 2014-03-12.
  2. "Leading News Resource of Pakistan". Daily Times. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  3. Cited in the Punjab Civil & Military Gazette Lahore, ed of 5th November 1888
  4. "Aitchison College Games & Sports". Retrieved 2014-03-12.

Further reading

External links

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