The Pakistan Montessori Association was established in 1949. Dr. Maria Montessori was invited by Mrs. Gool Minwalla to Karachi to inaugurate the first Pakistan Montessori Teacher’s Training Course. Mrs. Minwalla was fortunate to have studied and worked with Dr. Montessori, who held her in high esteem. She was the pioneer and guiding force behind the Montessori movement in Pakistan. It was her fervour and commitment, which established the Montessori training course and revolutionized the early education for preschool children. It also provided countless women the ability to earn an independent living.
PMA remained inactive in the new state until 1964 when Mrs. Gool Minwalla represented Pakistan at the Montessori World Congress, in Amsterdam. The second Montessori training was held in 1966. After that began the major activity of training teachers, parents and adults who worked with children. Mrs. Minwalla had a group of dedicated helpers like Mrs. Gool B. Rustomjee, Mrs. Majida Sufi, Mrs. Gul Thanavalla, Mrs. Arifa Saifie, Mrs. Habiba Thobani and Mrs. Piroja Irani who were the mainstay of the PMA training and activities. Training courses were held every year and Montessori directresses multiplied and Montessori schools were opened.
In 1985, the 20th International Montessori Congress was organized at Karachi by PMA. It was the first international congress to be held in South Asia. Dr. Montessori’s grandson, Mario Montessori, Renilde Montessori and Mr. Portielje, President AMI, the Netherlands, attended the Congress. Over 300 delegates participated. Of these more than one third attended from 14 countries outside Pakistan.
In 1990, the 23rd Montessori Teacher Training Course was held in Lahore. It was the first training course outside Karachi, and was inaugurated by Dr. Mario Montessori, Jr., the grandson of Dr. Maria Montessori.
Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan, Begum Shaista Ikramullah, Begum Nasra Wazirali and Professor Anita Ghulamali were among the distinguished persons who have served as the Chief Patrons of the Association. At present the Chief Patron is Dr Ismail Saad.
The PMA regularly organizes workshops for its members on various Montessori topics. The pedagogical committee also visits Montessori schools and registers them with the Association if they are being run on Montessori grounds. Further, it runs a school, by the name of Montessori Children’s Villa, for 100 children.
The year 2007 was the centenary year of the establishment of the first school by Dr. Maria Montessori in the suburbs of Rome, Italy. The PMA celebrated the year by unveiling a plaque at the Jamshed Memorial Hall where the first training course was held under Dr. Montessori, a walk for Montessori children at the Mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam and holding an Art Exhibition of children of Montessori schools and finally, organizing a Seminar on Parental Guidance at the Aga Khan University Hospital Auditorium for parents, teachers and general public.
The Association plans to support a school for the underprivileged as soon as its finances permit it to realize this dream. In the meantime, the Association is already helping out by way of guidance in establishment of proper Montessori schools all over the city.