Celebrating the Centennial of Bidyamayee Girls' High School
Bidyamayee Girls' High School is 137 years old and still going strong as a reputable educational institute of Mymensingh. It is most likely that every second female student of the town has been a student of this institute.
To keep the memory of his mother alive, Jagatkishore Acharya Chowdhury established Bidyamayee Girls High School in the district town in 1873 for female education. The school is housed in a red two-storied building on 3.5231 acres of land in the centre of Mymensingh town. Some other generous landlords of Mymensingh like zaminders of Muktagacha, Gouripur and Krishnanagar came forward with financial support to fulfill the mission of Jagatkishore. At that time women education was in a deplorable state in Bengal. But, following the establishment of this school, female education in Bengali community, both Hindu and Muslim, took a very positive turn. Actually, through the establishment of this school, girls of Mymensingh region got an opportunity to go for quality education in a somewhat backward district town. Earlier, only a few girls were fortunate enough to go to Dhaka or Kolkata for education. Only the girls of aristocratic families had such opportunities.
The school was nationalised in 1912. The first headmaster of the school was Sree Nabokumar Samaddar who continued his service till 1912. After him Sreemoti Bhakti Sudha Ghosh took over as the head teacher.
Bidyamayee Devi, a woman with a great heart, has become a part of the history of education of this country as well as that of this sub-continent. Though she was not a goddess of education (Devi Swaraswati) of Hindu religion but a sensitive woman who devoted herself to the development of education. She was the wife of Ramkishore Acharya Chowdhury and beloved mother of Jagatkishore Acharya Chowdhury, both famous zaminders of Muktagacha in Mymensingh region. They came from a prominent zaminder family in this sub-continent during the British regime. Bidyamayee Devi was married to Ramkishore in 1267 Bengali year (BS).
Bidyamayee Devi, daughter of another landlord Biswanath Sannyal of Kulgachhi, was not an educated woman herself but a woman full of worldly wisdom. She always bore great fascination for education, culture and religious activities.
She died in 1315 BS.
The school has a number of sweet memories to recollect. One is the visit of Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore to the school in 1926. Miss Verulkar, a foreigner was the head of the school at that time. Tagore was given a heart-warming welcome by the teachers and students and elite of the town. The visit of this great poet is regarded as a glorious part of history of Mymensingh region. Sreemoti Bibhubala Bakshi served the school for 25 years as its head and she is regarded as one of the most successful heads of the school.
Today the school is playing a pioneer role in female education in this region through rendering quality education. The school has a remarkable position among the educational institutes of the country. During its 137 year history, the school has produced numerous talents who contributed to the development of society in many different ways. Still now it is considered the most unique of all institutions for female education in Mymensingh region.
The examination results of SSC (Secondary School Certificate) and achievements of scholarships at primary and junior levels are highly encouraging.
The school also has remarkable track record in sports and games.
The school has a rich library with over 5000 books with some rare collections. It also has a hostel with accomodation facilities for over 100 students. The hostel was established in 1896 for students coming from distant villages. It was used only for Hindu students. But separate arrangements in the hostel were made for a Muslim girl in 1943.
Today the school is run by 50 experienced teachers including two assistant headmasters and there are about 2250 students in the school studying in three groups - Science, Arts and Commerce. The school runs two shifts- Morning and Day shifts.
A total 64 students got GPA-5 in SSC examinations in 2007 including 11 students with golden GPA-5 and 66 students obtained GPA-5 in 2006 with 11 students Golden GPA-5 from the school. The school was selected as best school for three times at national level in 1988, 1992 and 1996 for its brilliant academic performance. A total of 368 students took part in the SSC examination from this school this year.
Extra curricular activities of the school
The school also has a reputation for doing well in debate competition at local and national levels. Last year the school arranged a debate competition where different schools of Dhaka Division took part and the school came out first. The school also organises national level programmes and cultural functions as their co-curriculum activities.
The students enjoy the quiet and serene academic environment prevailing on the campus. The guardians offer all-out support in maintaining the academic standard of the century old school.
However, the old structure needs repair and plastering to avoid dampness and damage to the building.
When memories come flying by
Khurshid Jahan (Former Headmistress)
Khurshid Jahan, a former Headmistress of Bidyamayee School went on LPR this year. Also an alumni of this school she passed her SSC from this school in 1967. She entered teaching profession in 1977 and joined Bidyamayee School in 1984 as an Assistant Teacher and continued her service till 2004 before getting transferred to Mymensingh Zila School and Sherpur Govt. Girls' School for a short period following promotion as Assistant Headmistress. “This is my school and I served here for 24 years, so I feel a blood-bonding with this school, which I believe will continue till my last breath”, said Khurshid Jahan.
Terming the school as one of the best schools in the country for its brilliant results and extra-curricular activities she said that following pressure from guardians another shift was opened in 1991. She prays for the all-out betterment of the school in future. “As a teacher, I am very happy as I was its head”, said Khurshid Jahan with a satisfactory smile.
Fatema Akhtar Khatun (Alumni)
Fatema Akhtar Khatun is now 77 years old. She was the first Muslim student to reside in Bidyamayee School hostel. Now she is a part of the school history. Dr. Fakir Mohammed of Sherpur wanted his daughter to get admitted in a good school. As there was no scope in Sherpur, she moved to Mymensingh town with his daughter Fatema Akhtar Khatun in 1946. Later he was successful in gettingh his daughter admitted to Bidyamayee School.
As Fatema Akhtar needed a hostel facility, the school authorities took initiatives for making some extra arrangements for the lone Muslim student in the hostel. She passed her matriculation in 1951 from this school. Recalling past memories of her school days, Fatema Akhtar, a retired school teacher, told this writer that the memories float before my eyes like butterflies. I was the only Muslim student in the hostel but within five years, the number of Muslim students in the hostel increased manyfold. Teachers were very cooperative and affectionate and they used help us prepare our lessons in the classes”, she remembered.
SN Iffat Ara (Alumni)
Samsun Nahar Iffat Ara, a prominent writer in Mymensingh region passed her matriculation from Bidyamayee School in 1956 with credit. Being a girl from a conservative Muslim family, she had to struggle to get admitted to the school in class eight in 1953. Subsequently, Iffat Ara did her MA in Bengali and B. Ed. She recalled that her education was stopped after passing primary level but when she threatened her mother that she would commit suicide if she was not allowed to go for further study. Later she was admitted at Bidyamayee School in class eight.
Speaking about her school days, Iffat Ara became emotional. She said that the academic environment of that time was very good. The surrounding area of the school as well as the town was clam and serene. “We still remember the intimacy of the classmates and the affectionate teachers who were like our parents.”
Nadira Begum (Alumni)
Nadira Begum, a senior English teacher, is an alumni of Bidyamayee School. She was also a resident student of this school. Nadira Begum, daughter of Fayez Uddin, recalled her school days saying, “The figure of Phul Rani Sarker, one of the most prominent heads of the school is still vivid before my eyes. The hostel superintendent maintained a strict role to run the hostel. Actually we learnt so many good things from the discipline of the school and the hostel as well. We had to wait when the school would go on vacation so we could go home to meet our family members.”
(R) thedailystar.net 2008