133 years of Vidyamayee
Vidyamayee Devi, not the goddess of learning (Swaraswati) of Hindu religion, but a woman who dedicated herself for education was the wife of Ramkishore Acharya Chowdhury and the beloved mother of Jagatkishore Acharya Chowdhury, famous Zaminders of Muktagacha, and a prominent Zaminder family in this sub-continent during the British regime. Vidyamayee Devi was married to Ramkishore in the Bengali year 1267.
Vidyamayee was the daughter of landlord Biswanath Sannyal of Kulgachhi. She did not have any formal education, but she had a great enthusisam for education, culture and religion. She was a person full of wisdom and deep faith.
Vidyamayee passed many days visiting various holy places of the Hindu religion and contributed much to the development of those places. She installed a golden umbrella at Kamakkhapith, and constructed a stair at Chandranath Ashram in India which made the journey of the pilgrims to these places easier and more comfortable. She was also a patron of Bengali culture and its various art forms including the 'jatrapala' and 'pala gaan' which were organized regularly during puja festivals at the Zaminder's palace in Muktagachha, Mymensingh, under her patro-nization. A lover of art, culture and education, Vidyamayee made arrangements for recitals of the great Indian epic, Mahabharata at her palace in the Bengali year of 1307. She also constructed a funeral place after the name of Gagon Chowdhury in Mymensingh with her own money.
Vidyamayee undertook all efforts to educate her son Jagatkishore. He was not able to acquire higher education in a formal institution, but he had informal schooling at home on various subjects under the guidance of her mother. Jagatkishore's name as a serious scholar soon travelled far and wide.
To keep the memory of his mother alive, Jagatkishore established a school for promoting female education in the district town of Mymensingh in 1873 when utter backwardness was prevailing in the women communities of Bengal. The school was called 'Vidyamayee Girls High School'.
It stood on 3.5231 acres of land. Following the establishment of this school, female education among the Bengali community, both Hindu and Muslim, took a very positive turn in this region. Vidyamayee School was nationalized in 1912.
The first headmaster of the school was Sree Nabokumar Samaddar who continued his service till 1912. Sreemoti Bhakti Sudha Ghosh then took over charge in 1912 as its headmistress. In 1926, the Nobel Prize winner poet Rabindranath Tagore visited the school when Miss Verulkar, a foreigner was the head of the school. After this, Sreemoti Bibhubala Bakshi served the school for 25 years as its head.
Till now the school has been conducting a pioneer role for female education in this region rendering quality education. During these years the school has produced numerous talents who have contributed significantly to the betterment of the society as well as of the country. The examination results of the SSC (Secondary School Certificate) and scholarship exams. of the primary and junior levels are very bright. The school has also made contributions to sports and games many years. The school has a rich library with over 5000 books including some rare collections. There is a hostel with accommodation facilities for over 100 students. The hostel was established in 1896 for students who came from far away places. Now the school is run by 50 experienced teachers including two assistant headmasters. There are about 2250 students studying in Science, Arts and Commerce in this school. Classes are run in two shifts- Morning and Day shifts. A total of 64 students got GPA-5 in SSC examinations this year, while 66 students obtained GPA-5 last year. The school was felicitated three times at national level in 1988, 1992 and 1996 for its brilliant academic performances.
The school also has a reputation for excellent performances in debate competitions. Recently the school arranged a debate competition where different schools of Dhaka Division took part and, Vidyamayee Girls' High School came out first. Abed Khan, the Editor of The Daily Samakal, distributed prizes among the winners as the chief guest. The school also organizes different national level programmes and cultural functions as part of their co-curriculum activities.
Hasina Begum, the present Headmistress of the school, told us, “The serene academic atmosphere with all-out support from the guardians of the students of the school is heart-warming and I feel proud to be in charge of the school. After being transfered from Tejgoan Govt. School in Dhaka, at the beginning of my job here, I felt a bit lonely being posted outside the Capital city. But now I enjoy every day of my work in Mymensingh as all the teachers and the employees here are very sincere and committed to their duties.And I just love the students. They are so eager to learn and prove their worth; you only have to guide them properly. At Vidyamayee we try our best to do that.”
However, the head of the school also said that classrooms and certain other portions of the school building have become damp and damaged. These should be repaired immediately for the greater interest of the school.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006