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4 October, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 4 October, 2018 04:10:18 PM
OLD SCHOOLS – PART 5

Kamrunnessa Government Girls High School

Maria Mohsin
Kamrunnessa Government Girls High School

Kamrunnessa Government Girls High School is a historic school of our country as it is part of the first ever educational institution established for girls in this region. The school has had a long history before becoming the Kamrunnessa School it is now.

In 1873, a social welfare organisation named Shuvashadhini Shava set up a school at Farashganj to educate girls from the Brahmo community. It was the first female-only educational institution in the Bengal region. The school merged with another school in 1878 and was named Dhaka Female School. From that time on, the school was open to female students from all communities.

Later in 1878, the school was brought under government management and moved to a new location at Laxmibazar. It was renamed as Eden Girls School after Ashley Eden, the then British lieutenant-governor of Bengal. The school had 130 students in 1896.

A great earthquake in 1897 damaged the school building, and it was moved again to a commercial building owned by a Portuguese trader at Sadar Ghat. With the introduction of classes 11 and 12, the school was then upgraded to Eden Girls High School and Higher Secondary College.

In 1924, the school branch was separated from the college and renamed as Kamrunnessa High School by Akhtar Banu (daughter of Nawab of Dhaka Khwaja Ahsanullah) after her mother, Kamrunnessa. Banu and her two sisters managed and financially supported the school, which had 51 teachers and 530 students by that time.  

In 1947, Khwaja Nazimuddin, the then chief minister of East Bengal, nationalised the school and it became known as Kamrunnessa Government Girls High School. That same year, the school finally moved to a two-storied building at its current location on Abhoy Das Lane in Tikatuli. It also had a hostel for girls.

The school building has been renovated several times since. At present, Kamrunnessa School has a three-storied building, while some old structures are still there. The school has 2,000 students from classes 4 to 10 and runs two shifts, with about 50 teachers. The institution is still maintaining around 99 percent pass rate in SSC (secondary school certificate) exams. The students also engage in many different co-curricular activities, like Girl Guides, cultural club, debating club and more.

Obaida Banu, the present head teacher of Kamrunnessa Government Girls High School, said: “We provide our students with the best facilities and the government is very cooperative in ensuring those facilities. We maintain good results as well and our girls have many well-known former students to follow as role models. It helps to make our students mentally strong and encourages them more to do better results.”   

Dr Hasina Ahmed, 75, a former student who studied at the school from 1951 till 1958, told Y&I: “I would say our batch (class of 1958) was a genius batch. My classmates included Matia (Chowdhury) and Rekha (Jahanara Begum) who became government ministers, Sawar (Sadique), Keya (Tahera Begum), Safa (Akhtar Jahan) and Gulshan Ara became teachers or professors, Fahmida Khatun became a famous singer, while Bithi (Nurjahan Sultana) and I studied medicine.”   

“I had to take a test to enrol in class 4 in 1951. Then later on, my three younger sisters were admitted without any test. Mrs Habibullah Bahar was the headmistress then. We didn’t have any school uniform, and some girls wore very fancy clothes! We used to go school in a horse carriage, with a ‘dai’ (assistant) escorting us. Most of our teachers were women at the time, except our Bangla and math teachers. There was a separate Urdu section for non-Bengali girls at the time. We had to study Urdu and Arabic languages till class 9, but we wrote in Bangla and got half marks. We had science and arts subjects, as well as extra-curricular activities like Girl Guides, debating, athletics, theatre, art and culture, sewing, and more. We used to get freshly cooked snacks daily, and at the end of term, we would get biryani,” said Dr Ahmed, recalling her schooldays.

“There was a large pond and an old temple on the school grounds. There was an Oriya (Odia) guard named Bhatu. He would perform ‘surya pranam’ (sun prayer) in the pond in the morning. He would often fall asleep and we would take the key from him to open the gate and go outside to buy sweets like ‘hawai mithai’ and ‘Bombai mithai’ from street vendors. The school was at the end of the lane, so there was not much traffic outside. The two-storied school building had two staircases _ one exclusively for the teachers and one for students. There was a hostel for girls and unmarried teachers across the road. Rabeya Khatun (wife of writer Syed Mujtaba Ali), who was our headmistress after Mrs Bahar, was allowed to stay there with her two sons as her husband was always travelling,” she added.

Photos: Internet.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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