Volume 2 Issue 51 | February 14, 2009 |


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Guru Griho

From Bogra

From the Times of the Swadeshi Movement

Selina Sheuly

EVEN though it might sound like fiction, a young man once committed suicide after being expelled from an examination for cheating by his uncle, Sadish Nandi, a single mindedly honest teacher at Bangla School. It was this uncompromising dedication and singularity of mind that once turned Bagura's Paura Uccha Biddaloy into one of the most renowned schools of the district, said Tajmilur Rahman, an alum of this centenarian school and a leading educationist of Bogra. This once venerated school, one that was responsible for the education of many distinguished personalities throughout the years, is currently suffering from a lack of students.

The year was 1844. Bogra had no schools that could provide quality education for its sons and daughters. This was especially true of Bangla-medium institutions. This lack of quality education had many concerned about the futures of their children. Such was the context of the establishment of the school.

At the time the British rule in the India had extended to a hundred years, says Tajmilur Rahman, talking about the events that led to the founding of the school. The English government's exploitation in the name of governance of the subcontinent has begun to stir up discontent throughout the subcontinent. The discontent sweeping through the land had also reached the hub of northern Bengal, Bogra. Eminent personalities of Bogra had already begun drafting the blue prints of an anti-English movement. Members of the Swadeshi Movement began to realise at this point that the government-run schools are nothing but factories that were churning out slaves for the empire. The future generations had to be turned towards serving the best interests of the motherland and not that of a self-serving empire. They had turned into true patriots. And for this was required independent educational institution. It was based on this realisation that Kalidas Sanyal, advocate Ontim Chandra Majumdar, Advocate Makhan Chandra Majumdar, Suresh Dashgupta, Dr. Mofiz Uddin Ahmed and others from the leadership of the then Communist Party founded the Bogra School. At that time the school would provide education up to 6th grade, and was funded by the city council. The city council chairman at that time was Purno Chandra Roy, a resident of Shibbati.

The school was originally located in the Satmatha area, once the heart of Bogra, standing where Soptopodi market is today. Later when the pressures of urbanisation begin to grow, the school was relocated to the east of the Bogra Eidgah. According to the school board, although Srinath Tarka Panchanan served as the head of the institution after founding the school in 1844, after a year, this responsibility was handed over to Kali Kingkor Sarbavoumma. He also served for a year. After that, from 1847 to 1887, no institutional heads can be identified. Gopal Chandra Roy took over the reins in 1888 and served until 1925, serving for over three decades. When Zahurul Islam retired in 1997, no head of organisation was assigned until 2004, the school having to make do with stand-in administrators.

The current principal of the school Delowar Hossain says, the school boasts of excellent infrastructure and all the necessary amenities to deliver a quality education, and its only cause for concern is a chronic lack of student in recent times. At present, the school's student body consists of only 300 students. When asked about what he felt was responsible for this, he said that the way schools are springing up all around, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to maintain a steady level of student enrollment. In the past the school used to attract students not only from the city and the surrounding suburbs, but from beyond these areas as well. But now every locality has more than its share of schools, and students are invariably signing up with these institutions.

The principal goes on to say that most of the students come from fairly underprivileged families. In order to ensure that these students are able to continue their studies, the school sets the fees at the level that these families can afford. He says that for the school to be able to bring back its old glory, both the city council and the school alumni needs to step up and get involved. The alumni body not only boasts of Tajmilur Rahman among its ranks, luminary ex-students of the school include a host of engineers, bankers and doctors, he informs. The nation's celebrated swimmer Niaz Ali is also an ex-student of the school, says Delwar Hossain.

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