EDUCATIONAL NEGLECT: School turns 150 without pomp – Jenkins alumni cry for jubilee celebration

EDUCATIONAL NEGLECT: School turns 150 without pomp – Jenkins alumni cry for jubilee celebration – can’t expect anything more under Bengal, no emotional respect for a good education ?!!

Cooch Behar’s Jenkins School that will complete 150 years next year - too good a school for ruling cadres ?!! (Main Uddin Chisti)


Cooch Behar, July 29: Jenkins School has stepped into its 150th year but there seems to be no effort on the part of the authorities to celebrate the occasion, leaving its alumni disappointed as well as angry.

Located in the heart of town, the government-run institution has been declared a heritage property. The school is among the most beautiful edifices in the town renowned for its architectural marvels left behind by the erstwhile princes of Cooch Behar.

The former students blamed the school authorities for taking no initiative to celebrate the 150th anniversary.

“I passed my Madhyamik and Higher Secondary exams from Jenkins School and I am proud to have studied in an institution that is a shining example of the education scene in Cooch Behar 150 years ago. I am really disappointed that no one is inclined to celebrate such a landmark year. Along with some former students, I had approached the present headmaster, but he did not seem to be interested in the matter,” said Debabrata Chaki, a writer.

Headmaster Binoy Krishna Bhadra admitted that some former students had met him. “We are thinking of contacting our higher authorities in this regard and plan something to mark the school’s 150 years of existence,” he said.

The initiative to establish the school was taken by Maharaja Shivendra Narayan during his reign from 1839 to 1847.

“He wanted to set up a modern institution to teach English and began working on his plan and in 1841, wrote about his wish to Captain F. Jenkins, who was looking after education for the British government,” said Chaki.

The maharaja, however, could not realise his dream and passed away. The school was opened by his son and successor Maharaja Narendra Narayan in 1861 and named after Captain Jenkins who had retired from the service two years earlier.

The institution had first come up in the Debibari area of the town, but the building was ravaged by a fire. A new structure was built by the rulers on the east side of Sagardighi in 1879, but that, too, was destroyed in an earthquake in 1897. The present building was built at the same spot in 1905.

“We the former students will not let next year go without any celebration and we will arrange for something on our own,” said a determined Chaki.

Nirmalendu Chakrabarty, now 67, recalls how his alma mater had organised the centenary celebrations way back in 1961.

“I was in Class X. It was a grand affair with Maharaja Jagadddipendra Narayan sending a message to the school from Calcutta. Rabindranath Tagore’s personal secretary, Anil Chanda and noted Sanskrit scholar from Calcutta University, Gournath Shastri, were present on the occasion.

We have written to the President and the Prime Minister about the school and have also applied to India Post for a commemorative postal stamp,” said Chakrabarty, who heads the philatelic society here.


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