Curepipe College celebrates its 55 th anniversary
The Curepipe College, situated at Theodore Sauzier Street, Curepipe-Road, held a week-long celebration of its 55th Anniversary, the ‘Emerald Jubilee’, as from Monday 29th. On Thursday June 1st there was the prize-giving ceremony and launching of a Souvenir Magazine. The function was attended by several distinguished personalities, among whom Chief Guest Hon. (Mrs) Leela Devi Dookhun-Luchoomun, Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research, the Mayoress of Curepipe Mrs Lechou, the Directors of the Company, ex-teachers and alumni of the College, along with the current teaching and administrative staff of the College and the students.
The programme started with the playing of the National Anthem immediately after the arrival of the Chief Guest. This was followed by a power-point presentation titled ‘The Pathway of Curepipe College’, and next a choreography by pupils of the pre-vocational stream and mainstream which showcased the coexistence of the various cultures in Mauritius; this was reflected in the student population that today totals 1100. Then came the speeches by the Manager and Rector Mr Neetesh Raj Sewpal, the Mayoress, and the Chief Guest, after which there was a 55th anniversary song by pupils of grades 7 & 8 and the prize-giving ceremony to pupils for the Best Academic and Sports Performance 2016, as well as staff members for long and meritorious service that in some cases stretched back to a quarter of a century. The Souvenir Magazine, a lavish publication packed with content, was launched by the Chief Guest who received a bouquet and a Souvenir Shield.
Curepipe College has come a long way indeed since its opening on January 16, 1962 with 100 pupils in only 7 classrooms, and one laboratory each for chemistry and physics. Its founder was well-known businessman Shri Jeean Mohabeer Sonah of Vacoas, whose dream was that all Mauritians should be educated. One of the Directors present was his grandson, Dr JM Sonah, a retired medical practitioner who is still active at 90 years old, and whose wife too, Mrs Francoise Sonah is a Director along with the first Rector, Mr Brahmadutt Sewpal, father of the present one.
Mr Brahmadutt Sewpal was instrumental in raising the College from Grade B to Grade A status, as well as starting Form VI classes in 1996, a major stepping stone in the history of the College, in line with the continuous improvements in results that were taking place among the increasing number of pupils in parallel with the growing reputation of the College in Plaines Wilhems. As the current Rector pointed out in his speech, the College recruited students with poorer results – but they left the College with their heads high and well-qualified. The results for 2016 speak for themselves: 74% passes at SC level, 70% at HSC level. And the ex-students were to be found in all sectors – accountancy, engineering, hotel and tourism, health, etc.
Mr Neetesh Raj Sewpal himself began as a student of the College to become first an Educator there before assuming responsibilities as Manager and Rector. Under his watch there have been major infrastructural changes in the College, comprising the Gymnasium/Multipurpose Hall, upgrading of specialist rooms, computer labs and facilities for pupils and staff. The Rector in his message emphasized the pride in the school which is captured in the values that it promotes in students, so that they would be motivated ‘to Care, to Serve and to Lead’ in whatever field they would find themselves on leaving the institution. The College prepared its students to be adaptable and resilient so as to deal with the complexity of the real world by making the right choices and adapting to changing circumstances in a thoughtful and intelligent manner.
For this, a key element was a conducive learning environment for learning and innovation for both staff and students. This was provided by the major upgrading in infrastructure that had been carried out, along with provision of a wide range of new technologies for innovative pedagogies. Certainly the hall where the function was held gave a good idea of the top-notch infrastructure in place, and the large, well-kept compound-cum-playing ground bounded by the College building would immediately strike any visitor and appeal to both parents and pupils seeking to make the College their alma mater.
The role that secondary schools such as Curepipe College has played in the development of the country bears reiterating over and over again, because they tend to be sidelined with the bias towards the more prestigious colleges. In the pre-Independence days at a time when seats at secondary schools were limited both in the State colleges (the two Royal Colleges for boys and QEC for girls) and in the confessional colleges because of their restrictive admission policies, this left a vast majority of students with no opportunity to obtain a decent secondary education, save to take GCE O and A level examinations as private candidates at great cost, and therefore limited to those could afford it.
It was the vision of dedicated individuals that led to the establishment of the secondary schools lumped under the negative term ‘mushroom colleges’, which began on a small scale and charged fees which parents of modest means could afford. In a number of cases, a degree of altruism and philanthropy came into play to help the more unfortunate. It was indeed a bold step to start secondary schools under such circumstances – but perseverance paid, and later with education becoming free and the State giving grants, along with the provision of training facilities for teachers, these colleges made the leap in development. Today many of them have achieved well-deserved reputations that not only apply to academic performance but also to discipline and holistic guidance and good character formation in their students.
Curepipe College is one of such institutions, and is well on its way to celebrate its next milestone, its Golden Jubilee in 2022. It’s well-deserved congratulations to all across the board, from the Directors to the Managers/Rectors, all the teaching and administrative staff and of course, the students who can be justly proud of their alma mater. If they don’t have an alumni association, perhaps it is time to get one going and remain engaged with the College’s future.