Wednesday, February 8, 2012

COVER STORY: BOYS SCHOOL STUDENT PROTESTS: HISTORY BEHIND THE MYSTERY

THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS | VOL: 35 | ISSUE: 26 | 03 FEBRUARY 2012

COVER STORY:

BOYS SCHOOL STUDENT PROTESTS:
HISTORY BEHIND THE MYSTERY

A pinch of history to clear the air about the 'mystery' and 'conspiracy' behind the 'sudden' outburst of the students.

By Zubair Ahmed


The strikes by the Boys School students were instigated and motivated one. It's not a simple case of students demanding infrastructure. Somebody else is pulling the strings." This sentiment echoes everywhere.
Many smelt a mystery behind all the happenings. They could not fix a reason why the students of Boys School would blame Tagore Government College of Education for their suffering. They kept asking a few very innocent questions like - Why only students of Boys School came out openly against the injustice when hundreds of schools in the Islands suffer same amount of misery?
A pinch of history will help in clearing the air about the 'mystery' and 'conspiracy' behind the 'sudden' outburst of the students.
Some counter questions will also help in unravelling the mystery. Why students should not protest if they are denied basic amenities? Why a bunch of old and senior citizens gathered at the venue of the strike showing solidarity with the striking students? Why should not students be awakened against injustices? Who are those sacred souls who abhor protests and the protestors against injustices? Why the Administration is in favour of lop-sided development, creating a bunch of haves and have-nots?
In fact, a major reason for our ignorance stems from our callous approach about our history and heritage, which we are losing on a day to day basis. 
Boys' School, the cradle of school education in the islands, is a part of the Island heritage. A large section of the local community is deeply attached to it as it was through this temple of learning that they came up in society and created a space for themselves in every field; be it in administration, medicine, engineering, armed forces, research or sports. Even today, alumni of this school form the backbone of the administration at senior and middle level.

The Govt Boys School was the first school of the Islands, started in South Point by the British. In 1912, Mr Geelani was the Headmaster of the school. He left the Islands after a short period of service. However, he was called back when the school was shifted to its present location at Middle Point and re-established on 20 May 1946 after the Japanese left the Islands. He continued as the Headmaster. Then the school was affiliated with the Rangoon Education Board.
"The apathy on our part and indifference on the part of successive principals of the School has brought it to this pass" admitted an alumni of the school. The decision of a Principal to make the school a co-educational institution with admission opened for girls was the first step towards the downfall of the school. The character and nature of the school changed.
The Boys School sent up the second largest number of students for Std XII and X examinations but had no regular principal for a long period. It took many decades for the Alumni to wake up and realize that something has gone wrong. By the time, internally and externally, huge damage had been done.
The teachers allege that since nineties when TGCE started spreading its tentacles, the Boy's School was invariably put under such principals who would be more amenable to the expansionist designs of the Principal, TGCE. Such principals compromised the interests of the school and allowed Dr Jaidev Singh to encroach upon the assets of the school one by one.
TGCE is like the proverbial camel who sought the permission of the Bedouin to put his head in to the tent to save himself from the sandstorm. A little later he pushed his shoulder in and, finally, the Bedouin was out and the camel had the tent all for himself" commented a retired teacher.
It was first the Teachers' Training Institute that had to bear the brunt of Tagore Govt College of Education. The TTI was shunted out to Garacharama. The job accomplished, the principal, TGCE turned to Boys' School.
With Ishwari Prasad Gupta, then Lieutenant Governor in his control, which still continues today, J D Singh had prepared a master plan for the whole vacant land - Construction of many buildings. He was successful to an extent to continue with his sinister designs, when after a long hiatus, the Alumni Association of Boys School could sense. They approached various Secretaries (Education) and convince them about the importance of Boys School. From M M Kutty, Rinku Dugga, Archana Arora and Saxena, they could save the school from complete annihilation. They issued orders in favour of Boys School.
A major portion of Boys School was under the control of TGCE for a long time. The massive Rs 4.00 crore- plus GDMS was constructed by TGCE and after a long fight has been now handed over to Boys School. But TGCE still retains the air-conditioned auditorium on first floor as well as a major portion as its hostel. Before the construction of this edifice, TGCE had encroached upon the Boys School for its hostel. The ingenious Dr Jaidev Singh desperately tried to expand the scope of TGCE by getting approval to run Institute of Advance Studies in Education. He had plans to earmark one floor of the new building for IASE and wanted to hold on to the buildings of Boys' school. But, the fight by the Alumni Association thwarted his plans.
Next, he ventured for construction of a massive auditorium right at the gate of Boy's School. Once completed, it would have totally blocked the view of the school. Secondly, for a mere 150 B Ed candidates already Rs 20 crore worth of buildings and furnishings and fixtures had been committed. The plan was again blocked by the Boys School Alumni Association and he had to satisfy with another auditorium, just next to the gate, inaugurated recently.
Neglect, apathy and indifference drips from every corner in the complex. The Boys School hostel is in the worst state of disrepair with plaster peeling off, electrical fittings hanging and the floor all badly damaged. There is no warden for the hostel. The Physical Education Teacher doubles as warden, who lives in the same hostel building. However, when such struggles are carried out, things go personal. The Physical Education Teacher has been a target of TGCE Principal.
The school with strength of 1200 students does not have the much required infrastructure.
No doubt, its government land. So, why two institutions are fighting over it? The dejected condition of most of the schools and other government properties are due to the apathy of its real owners - the common man. They could never envisage that it belongs to them. When the Alumni of Boys School saw the abuse of their institution, they could not bear it. Recently, when the wall demarcating the boundaries were constructed, TGCE once again tried to encroach; the present Secretary Education too felt that it was fine. The Alumni tried to approach the Lieutenant Governor, which could not materialize. A bunch of old citizens took up the fight and when they saw their struggle slipping away, they educated their young ones to carry on the fight.

2 comments:

mk tarik said...

Boys school ke bare me koi sochta kyu nahi hai kyu ki boys school port blair ka sabse purana school hai......ye school se jo student nikle hai wo aaj bi port blair ke bade bade post pe hai....
aaj mujhe bahut sharam ata hai ki waha ki is school me na to canteen hai or na hi play ground hai......
or na hi 1bhi hall hai.....!!!!!!!

mk tarik said...

usliye is school ke bacche strike karte hai
i think
agar is school me sari facilities mil jae baccho ko to ye school fir se 1 baar 1 naya mukaam hasil kar lega ye me nahi ye baat sab sochte hai school ke.