Pabna Edward College:
The Oldest College of the District
Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu
Pabna Edward College is the oldest educational institution in Pabna that has been providing the light of education for over a hundred years, not only in the district but in the entire northern part of the country. It is also one of the largest educational institutions in Bangladesh. Tracing back the glorious history of the college, we find that the college was first established in July, 1898. The historic Gopal Chandra Lahiri had established it as the Pabna College at the campus of Pabna Gopal Chandra Institute (now called the G.C.I School). It was soon considered to be the first and foremost higher education institution of the area in the 19th century.
Founder Gopal Chandra was made the founder principal of the college and in 1911 the name of the institution was changed to Edward College as a tribute to the late King Edward the 7th. The college had gained great popularity in the region at that time. Later in 1912, the famous zamindar of greater Pabna, Bonomali Roy, donated fifty thousand taka for the development of the college. In 1914, Lord David Barren, the then Governor of Bengal visited the college and promised to donate to the college fund in the future. As the college gained more fame, more and more elites of East Bengal started to come forward and help organize the Edward College. It was also in 1914 that the zamindars Gopi Shundari and Debendra Narayan Shingha sanctioned 46 acres of land as a contribution to improve the college infrastructure. A proper college building was then established for the very first time. The B.S.C course was started in 1925 and by 1940 the B.A course was also started. Some neighboring, adjoining land was recovered in 1961 and so another 49 acres of land were added to the college campus area.
After the liberation war, Pabna Edward College was enlisted among the Government Colleges of Bangladesh. In 1978 it was enlisted among the 35 government colleges which were selected as government college development projects and in 1987 the Edward College was enlisted among the “8 University” project as well. The intermediate course had been stopped in the college for the years of 1997 and 1998. However, there are 15 subjects for Honors and Masters degrees which are available at the college now and a minimum of about 12 thousand students are currently studying at the college. Three new departments have been officially added to the college recently. The college is now composed of ten administrative and academic buildings, three dorms for male students and two for the female students, a dorm building for teachers, an auditorium which can accommodate two thousand people, two mosques, two large play grounds and four buses. About 147 teachers are currently working at the college. There are, however, some problems that the students face. Majority of the students claim to suffer hugely from acute residential problems and lack of transportation facilities. The fact that a large number of posts of teachers are still vacant disrupts the academic performance of the students and has posed to be a huge problem.
There have been strong demands for upgrading the Pabna Edward College to a full fledged university, but with no response from the government. The students of the college have recently organized a demonstration for the same reason. The Civic body of Pabna formed a human chain and even sent a memorandum to the higher authorities, but to no avail. In 2002, the government had taken up a project to upgrade eight of the oldest colleges of the country to full fledged universities. Pabna Edward College was number three of the eight colleges and yet no steps have been taken to continue the project as it has become subject to political consideration. The fate of Pabna Edward College, like many other institutions, now depends on the changes in the political scenario of the country.
(R) thedailystar.net 2007