HISTORICAL BACKGROUND >> The Years from 1948-1973


The Bishop of Chotanagpur confirmed Mr. F. E. La Valette who had been officiating as Principal since 1944, in the post of Principal on 1st January 1948. A conscientious worker and one who had worked wonders to keep the school on its foundation he accepted the responsibility as an honour. The task was challenge but he was not one to cower. It was a feat to bring back the school from Allahabad to Namkum and resettle it and he supervised and managed it efficiently and successfully.

Classes resumed in the ground floor, the timings were as before:
Rising Bell - 6:00 a.m.                Breakfast - 7:00 a.m.
Morning Prep - 7:30 a.m.– 8:30 a.m.
Assembly - 8:30 a.m.                 Classes - 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The hostel and Infirmary were shifted to the first floor. Along with the warden, a few masters were also given accommodation on the first floor. To the right of the Portico, the school office was reset and the Principal’s office adjoining it opened into the corridor leading to the hall. The Principal resided in a portion of building facing the school. Adjoining his quarters, in the same building at present the junior block, the private boarders were lodged. In places a barbed wire fencing and in places a hedge of the common ‘lantana’ served as a boundary for the school campus.

Namkum was the same as before but after the stay in Allahabad the boys took time to readjust to the loneliness and the pristine environment. Slowly the school settled into a set pattern. One can only surmise the problems the authorities must have faced with improper accommodations, inadequate teachers, etc while the school was in Allahabad. In fact, as a measure of economy from July 1943 the Boys’ and Girls’ School were fused together only for daily lessons. The post effects of the Allahabad stay could be tangibly felt in the discipline of the school and in the academic results. Back in Namkum, it became necessary to tighten the reins in order to restore stability and order in the school. The Principal, Mr. La Valette threw himself into the task of building up a good reputation of the school. To assist him, Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed as Head Master in 1950. Priority was given to regular teaching and maintaining discipline. The Principal and Head Master, both, personally supervised and ensured that there was no laxity on the part of the students or teachers. The time table was adjusted so that Mr. Fitzgerald could be physically present in the classes when Urdu or Hindi was being taught, as both these periods usually ended in an abrupt and uproarious manner. In time this practice of the Head Master became a tradition that was not restricted only to the classes of the second languages.

To existing norms some new rules and regulations were added. Violation of any rule meant immediate summons to the Principal’s Office which was akin to “being summoned before the judgement Throne”. Corporal Punishment was the order of the day; and the morning Assembly held in front of the main building was the time selected mete out the punishments and read monthly reports.

With the view to keep abreast of the times thought was given to introduce the Matriculation Examination of Patna University. The idea, however, was abandoned. The syllabus remained unchanged but it became compulsory to pass in the second language. Extra-Curricular activities were an integral part of curriculum. Saturdays were scheduled for relaxation and entertainment. After two teaching periods the boys were engaged in games and socially useful and productive work like gardening, cleaning the campus, etc. The Saturday afternoons were spent in watching movies shown on a projector. In asbestos covered shed which stood where the office stands today these movies, especially brought from Calcutta, were projected.

The school graduated into its 25th years in 1952. An air of achievement pervaded the school’s atmosphere. A special thanksgiving service was held to celebrate the Silver Jubilee, the Sports and Speech Day programmes were conducted with greater pomp and ceremony. The good results of the Senior Cambridge examination further raised the morale of the staff and students.

Restored firmly on its foundation the school’s driving ambition was now to move “onwards and upwards”. Till then both the Westcott Schools were held in awe and considered inaccessible by the local population. To encourage more admissions the Governing body granted permission to admit upto 50% Indian students; and also dayscholars. This proved to be a significant opening for the school as well as the Ranchites. From a total strength of 102 boys in 1949 the numbers rose to 214 boys by 1956 of which 161 were Boarders and 53 were dayscholars. The decision to open Class-I in 1957 was another major step in increasing the number of students; now right from the age of six years, boys were given admission. There was a rise in the number of day staff also as more teachers from Ranchi were given appointment in the school. Cycle rickshaws were the chief mode of conveyance and most of the dayscholars and daystaff commuted on them. From Ranchi to Namkum the fare to and fro was Rs.60/-p.m. Most of the local people still did not know much about Namkum and the school; therefore very few ventured to send their wards.

In 1958 the South Eastern Railway commenced digging the land belonging to the Boys’ School in order to lay down the Broad Gauge Line from Muri to Ranchi. The Broad Gauge Line heralded an era of rapid growth and advancement for the town of Ranchi and Westcott Boys’ School was one of the first to reap its benefit. Earlier, at least two members of the staff were deputed to escort the boys going on vacation upto the Muri Junction and for this purpose an entire coach on the Lohardaga - Purnia train used to be booked for the boys. With this new development it became vitally important to construct a boundary wall. A wall barely a meter in height was set up and a wooden gate was fixed at the south-western corner of the campus.

Namkum, in those days, did not appear like a proper village also for there only two-three houses across the railway tracks in the Tetri Toli. A single shop situated just behind the station supplied rations to the school which were brought on bullock carts. For fresh vegetables, egg, meat, fruits, etc. the school relied on Mr. Bindeswari, the supplier.

Owing to M. La Valette’s financial wizardry all debts of the school had been liquidated by 1957 and the financial position of the school had become secure. To accommodate the increasing number of students and teachers more constructions were undertaken. Extensions were made to the school building, the staff quarters, and kitchen was extended and improved, a study hall with asbestos roof was built where now the auditorium stands, the library was extended, sanitary fittings were made and another science laboratory with new gas plant was built. For the servants a bathing room was built and close to their quarters a well was dug. There could be no doubt that the school was well embarked on the road to progress. Every year students were presented for the Cambridge Examination, for which the school had become a centre, and apart from a few exceptions the results were satisfactory.

The private boarder scheme was still being followed, the chief reason for its continuation was it helped balance the finances of the school, for a large percentage of students availed free ship. The private boarders popularly called “Parlour Boarders” paid a fee of Rs.90 p.m, while the “ordinary” boarders paid Rs. 60/- p.m. On the basis of this categorization the parlour boarders had access to better food and separate lodging. Invariably this scheme had led to and given rise to discrimination and discontentment in the school. Several times earlier the matter had been steadily rising surfaced in the form of an open protest and the school faced its first crisis in 1962. The school was closed and emergency meeting of the Governing Body called. It was decided that discrimination amongst the boys should not be made. All the senior boys were shifted into the dormitories in the main building while all junior boys were housed separately and given into the charge of Mr. Fitzgerald. The school reopened but it took time to settle into its normal course. A direct outcome of the insurgency was deterioration in the standard; the overall performance in the Examinations was poor. After a short phase, new admissions again started coming in and by October’1966 the school had 470 boys of which 135 were dayscholars.

Every passing year new targets were fixed and satisfactorily achieved. The number of students being presented for the Cambridge Examinations had increased. The Principal himself took keen interest in the Sciences, which inspired the students to do likewise. In place of Urdu, Bengali was introduced. Interest of the boys in the language subjects was far from satisfactory. On the games field, a variety of inter-house, inter-section and even inter-school competitions had enhanced the interest. In 1969 the school purchased its first bus and a garage was also constructed. Some more staff quarters came up. A new Dinning Room was also built. By 1970 another chassis was purchased for a van which could be utilized in various ways. The school bus playing the Ranchi roads increased the accessibility of the school and brought a sharp rise in the total strength of the school.

The school was still pre-dominantly Anglo-Indian in its culture and ethos but a radical change was occurring. Slowly but surely the school was adapting and merging into the mainstream. Every transition is usually accompanied by trauma and distress and the early seventies was such a phase which the school faced. The records reveal little, therefore, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the insurgence in 1972. It is however clear that discontentment amongst the students was primary reason for this revolt. What led this discontentment to gain such unmanageable proportions was obviously the support and involvement of a few members of the faculty. The school was closed sine die. The hostel was evacuated and residential staff were also asked to leave the campus. In December 1972 when the Principal tendered in his resignation the Governing Body requested him to continue till further arrangements were made.

It was and still would be totally unjust to lay the blame on any one person or situation; if the Principal was at fault it lay in his dedication: So much had he immersed himself in the affairs of the school, it’s growth and development that he had lost contact with the life-blood of the school-the boys, while the latter bottled up their grievances the former remained ignorant and the outcome was calamitous.





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