—— Since 1851 ——
Birbhum Zilla School was established on the 9th December 1851, under the authorities of the Bengal Council of Education, and was managed by a Local Committee of which Mr. James, the District Judge was the Secretary. It ran for three years in a rented house. Then it was removed to the present premises. During the Santal Insurrection of 1856, it was closed for a few months. A uniform tuition fee of one rupee a month was introduced as soon as it became apparent that the people were willing to pay for an English education.
Mr. M. Gregory was appointed as the Headmaster on 2nd August, 1854. In the year 1855, the school had a total of 135 students along with 4 teachers. They are Babu Womesh Chandra Ghosh, 2nd Master; Babu Gurudas Roy, 3rd Master and Babu Krishnalal Roy, 4th Master. Mr. Gregory’s zeal and efficiency received special commendation from Mr. Malet, Secretary to the Local Committee and Babu Womesh Chandra Ghosh also received recognition for his good work.
The popularity and success of the school continued under Babu Joggeshur Ghosh and were maintained under Babu Nobin Chandra Das, until in 1864, Mr. H.L. Harrison officiating Inspector of Schools, South-West Division, declared it to be the best of the schools in this Division. By 1870, the institution had fallen upon evil times and its new Headmaster Babu Shib Chandra Shome found that its very existence was being threatened owing to a rival school which had been opened by the Baptist Missionary, the Rev. Mr. Allan. Shib Babu however, restored the school to its former status and stability and he attained deserved popularity. It was during his incumbency that Satyendra Prasanna – in later years better known as Lord Sinha of Raipur – and Rasamoy Mitra, Rai Bahadur were pupils of the school. In the year 1878, the designation of the school was altered to be Birbhum Zilla School. Shib Babu was ably supported by his Assistant, Babu Pitembar De, who gained recognition as a scholar and poet.
In 1882, Babu Ambika Charan Mukerji became Headmaster and held office till 1898 when he was transferred to be Superintendent of the Hindu School, Calcutta.
Ambica Babu was followed by Babu Kumar Sen and Loke Nath Chakravarti in close succession. During Loke Nath Babu’s incumbency, the school secured two scholarships of the First Grade. One of the Second and three of the Third in the Entrance Examinations of 1900 and 1901 – which caused Babu Kumud Bandhu Bose, Assistant Inspector of Schools, Burdwan Division, then to observe: “This school never, and I doubt if any school ever won so many scholarships in one year.”
The path set by the forefathers is aptly being followed and the “Best School in W.B.” award in the year 2014 promised for more to come.
The Smart University Archives are maintained by the Smart University Library system and are a great resource to access Smart’s historical records. Harvard is perhaps best-known because of its enduring history of innovation in education. But even die-hard Smart buffs are not likely to know all of these Smart firsts and historical snippets.