Mauritius Times – 60 Years Ago
The ceremony for the laying of foundation stone of the new building of the Hindu Girls’ College, at Farquhar Street, Curepipe Road, was performed on Monday last by His Excellency the Governor, Sir Robert Scott.
Major General B. Chatterjee, the Commissioner for the Govt of India, and Mr Fernand Saugon, the French Consul, were among the large number of guests present.
In his opening speech Dr L. Teeluck, President of the New Building Committee, after thanking all those who had responded to the invitation of the Committee, made a brief survey of the history of the Hindu Girls’ College which came into existence on the 6th of February 1945.
It started by being an institution of primary education. In 1946 there were 121 boys and 108 girls in the school. It was an experiment, said Dr Teeluck, which had been launched by a group of enthusiastic and independent-minded parents. After one year the promoters of the experiment decided that the institution should be one for girls only and the implementation of their decision started immediately. From 1947 onwards only girls were admitted. In that year there were 128 girls: Since then the number has gone on increasing. They are now 273 girls being taught by 15 teachers.
Dr Teeluck paid tribute to the Hindu Girls’ College Association which in the face of daunting odds and discouraging setbacks, has plodded on and persevered to make the Hindu Girls College a well-known institution today.
Dr Teeluck then recalled how, in 1954, the idea of a new building took shape in the mind of the Association. Despite the fact that it has been at extraordinary pains to find finances, yet its efforts have been crowned with success.
Today work on the new building has already started. The architect is Mr Yves Baissac and the builder Mr Clement Dalais.
The President hoped that the new building would provide the right atmosphere for progress. He added that the range of subjects taught would also be increased.
The President finally stressed on the fact that children of all denominations are admitted to the College, as this, he believed, is the most effective means of promoting harmony and understanding between the various communities of the island.
Following Dr Teeluck, His Excellency the Governor made the following speech:
“I must first express my pleasure for me to be present at this ceremony and in having the privilege of laying the foundation stone of the new home for the Hindu Girls’ College. Secondly, on behalf of Lady Scott, I have to express her regret that, as she had to attend a meeting of the Girl Guides Association, she could not be here with me this afternoon.
“In his very interesting opening speech, the President of the New building Committee, Dr Teeluck, has outlined the history of the College and the reasons for its re-housing in buildings which will be worthy of its aspirations. I need not, accordingly, linger long over the historical aspects. Three points are perhaps particularly worthy of emphasis, however. The first is that, very early in its history as a school, those responsible for its guidance and management decided that it should be a girls’ school. The second is that the new buildings will allow the College almost to double the number of girls attending it. The third is that both the progress of the school to its present stage of development and the fact that, with new buildings, it is about to enter into a further stage of development, are so largely attributable to the foresight and generous contribution of parents and others having the interest of the College and its pupils at heart.
“On the first point — the decision that the College should be an institution for the education of girls — I would say, with due respect to those who took the decision, that it was a wise and farsighted step. I have made known my views on the importance of girls’ education on a number of occasions, but it is not inappropriate that I should summarize them here. For a variety of reasons, in most parts of the world, the development of boys’ education, especially their education on institutional lines, was for long given pride of place. Whatever the reasons — and the need to develop the necessary resources, human and material, was among them — the effect was spread to all facets of community development. The disproportion in outlook with regard to importance of boys’ and girls’ education respectively even to some extent influenced the concept of education itself. Because, traditionally, the man has been regarded as the provider for the family and the woman as the manager of the home, the emphasis has tended to be on education as a prime factor in earning a living and of secondary importance in relation to the home. This is, of course, to overlook the fundamental points that education begins in the home and that the home should exercise a powerful influence on the child during school years and that education should continue in the home when the school phase is finished.
“The lack of balance in the education of boys and girls is gradually being redressed although the process is a slow one in many parts of the world and one feels that full recognition has not everywhere been won of the equal importance of educating boys and girls. It is all the more encouraging accordingly to see the tangible signs of that recognition here, in the shape of the foundations of the Hindu Girls’ College and the fact of its corporate existence for rather more than ten years.
“It is equally encouraging — referring to my second point — to learn that when the new buildings are completed they will not only permit of the substantial increase in the number of girls attending the school which I have mentioned, but will also allow of the addition of domestic science to the considerable range of subjects for which provision is already made.
“On my third point — the collaboration which has fostered the growth of the College as a Girls’ School — I need only say that such collaboration is wholly essential to the operation of any education system, be it the system of a single school or the complex structure of a complete education system. It is not enough that parents and others who wish children well should see a child placed in school. It is not enough, even, that they should say: “Oh, it is a good school”. There must be a continuous and live interest in the life of schools and we adults must make what contribution we can towards ensuring that it is a good life. The contributions may be sympathy, active interest and support, which can be shown in many ways, not necessarily directly financial. If sympathy, interest and support can also take material forms — such as have sustained and are about to re-house the Hindu Girls’ College — so much the better.
“In conclusion I would congratulate the promoters of this enterprise on their foresight and public spirit and I extend to the College my best wishes for long and fruitful work in its very important field.”
Friday 9th November 1956
* Published in print edition on 19 April 2019