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The Heritage Institution

Post by on Monday, March 7, 2022

First slide
 In the Kral- Khud, Sheetalnath area of Habba Kadal, a lane leads to a three-story wooden building of a school. Over the years, the building of Vasanta Girls High School has been standing tall witnessing the proceedings of time.
                                          
Established in 1926 under the auspices of the Women Welfare Trust, the school has played an important role in imparting education among the female section of society.
 
Prof G K Muju who has been associated with the trust for over six decades talks about the history of the school in length and detail. He has been running the Trust and its associated schools as president since migration. Though stationed in Jammu, he frequently visits the schools.
 
He said that the Theosophical Society has played an important role in paying the way for college education and women's education in the valley. 
 
It is pertinent to mention that Theosophical Society was founded by HP Blavatsky and H S Olcott in 1875 with the basic objective to create a universal brotherhood without any distinction of race, region, religion, colour, sex or creed etc.
 
Soon Kashmir came under the influence of theosophical thought. In the early 1900 A.D., a branch of theosophical society known as the Kashyapa Lodge was established in Srinagar by some prominent people of the time. Amongst them were Shri Vas Kak Dhar, Shri Vedh Lal Zutshi, Shri Anand Kaul and others.
 
He said, “The Kashyapa Lodge of the Theosophical Society came together under the inspiring leadership of Prof S.K. Toshkhani to ponder over how to renew the home life of Kashmir, raise the society from backwardness, ignorance and superstition. A sort of survey was conducted and there emerged a general consensus to achieve the aim we must educate females. This resulted in the formation of the Woman's Welfare Trust in 1925 - the golden jubilee year of the theosophical society.”
 
The formation of the Women Welfare Trust as an association was permitted by the government in 1926 and an institution Sewa Sadam for training ladies in arts and crafts, tailoring etc was set up. For the education of girls in the valley, soon a school was established with the name Vasanta Girls School.
He said, “The school was named after the name of Dr Annie Besant, a freedom fighter and the second president of the theosophical society who was popularly called Vasanta by the common folk.”
 
Initially, the school was joined by five Hindu girls. One of them was the daughter of Pandit Shivji Bhat who provided space for the school in his house free of rent in Chandapora Kralkhud Habba Kadal area in Srinagar.
 
Prof. Muju said that the girls were brought in a boat and dropped back at their homes by the dedicated members. 
 
Watching zero presence of Muslim girls, the volunteers started approaching several Maulvis who were imparting religious education at their respective places.
 
He said, “They were offered some incentives and services of teachers to teach Urdu, arithmetic, English hygiene, geography etc. along with, while the Maulvis continued to teach religious education. These Makatabs gradually came under W.W.T. and were turned into schools and duly identified.”
 
Citing a few examples of those maktabas, he said that the Maktaba at Kral Khud ran by Molvi Hamza Shah was named Muslim Girls School Kral Khud, Maktaba at Kalaspora ran by Mauli Sadar Din as named as Mohammedan Girls School and Maktaba at Tankipora ran by Maulvi NIzamu Din was named Islamic Girls Schools.
 
By 1939 Vasanta School had become a high school and the first batch of matriculation students was sent through Punjab University Lahore.
 
Talking about the tough time that school had to face, he said the school had suffered during the time of turmoil.
 
“The school became targets of some anti-social elements. They even ransacked the old building and destroyed the entire record of the trust. One of the Hindu teachers was shot behind the school. An educationist, Shri Dina Nath Muju who was General Secretary of the trust was assassinated at his residence which created panic among others,” he said.
 
Also, the sister school, Kashyapa girls High School situated at Karan Nagar was set ablaze in 1990 which partially damaged the school building and the important assets.
 
Prof Muju said that no relief was granted by the government when the furniture and records were burnt. “Also, during the floods where both the buildings were half underwater, no relief was given to us which has further given us a setback,” he said.
 
Other members of the Trust and management are Dr Vimla Dhar, Shri I K Raina, Shri Ramesh Pandita. Dr Girja Dhar also served the school for a brief period of time.
 
Currently, the school is headed by Shri M I Pandita who according to Prof. Muju has given immense contribution during the years of militancy.
 
Calling Vasanta girls’ high school as heritage institution, he further said the Pandit management and the Muslim staff work together for the welfare of society. He said, “This is the beauty of the school. It will complete a century in some years and it’s all because we are working together for a good cause.”
 
As the name suggests, the school was initially only for female staff and students. During the turmoil, the people of the area were apprehensive in sending their male children to far off areas so they demanded the school administration to let the male students study there.
 
On the demand of parents, the school opened itself up to male students but the name was not changed.
The school is responsible for spreading education, particularly among the weaker section of society.
 
One of the teachers, Sameena Ayoub who has been teaching in the school for the past 20 years said the school usually gets the students from the vicinity that belong to the low-income section of society.
 
She said, “We have to mould the personality of the child who is admitted here. The children of other schools are already prepared in preparatory school but here we get the raw personality of a child. They don’t even know how to speak or behave but we put in every effort.”
 
The Balwadi section of teachers caters to the students till the 2nd class where they are trained to manage the kids of lower classes.
 
In 2014, the then Governor, NN Vohra and Mrs Usha Vohra, the first lady had marked their presence on the
annual day of school.
 
“When I joined the school, I had graduated and was a fresher. The school has provided us with an opportunity to study simultaneously while working here,” said Sameena.
 
Talking about the results, the students fared well in the recent matriculation examination. Another teacher Rubeena said, “We always try to raise the quality of teaching and we have been getting good results as well.”
 
She further said that catering to the students with limited resources requires more effort. “Some of them don’t even have a smartphone for attending online classes but we got connected to them through calls,” she added. Apart from this, weekly assignments were also given to the students.
 
The school offers education till 10th and has the strength of twenty teachers. The teachers said that the school provides good facilities for the students. “Computer lab, laboratory and all the facilities that a school should have is being given to students,” said one of the teachers.
 
The students after passing the school have achieved well in the field of academics and sports. Many alumni who are currently working in different places come and visit the school.
 
Dr Burhan Ashiq, currently working as a critical care specialist, at MAX hospital Delhi, has been an alumnus of the school, he said that the school was good at academics as well as infrastructure. He passed out of the school in 2004 and feels blessed to be a part of the school in the past.
 
He said, “The teachers were great and whenever I pass through the area, I always visit the school and many of my teachers are still in contact with me. Many teachers of my time still teach there and when I meet them, I relive those moments and they warmly welcome me every time. I am privileged to be an alumnus of the school. My siblings and other cousins used to study in the same school because it offered us the best education.”
 
After a long time, the students have started coming to school. The playground again reverberates with the buzz of students. 
 

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