|St. Peter'sSchool, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. the Hindu.com|
The close association of religion and education has been a common scenario in India for a pretty long time and it has some positive elements, one being the promotion of secularism. Though historians view that the missionary policy in the colonial period was mainly focused on proselytism or conversion, but their pioneering effort in the early growth of printing technology, literature in vernacular, education, local culture (Tamil Telugu, etc), its society and religion etc., overshadowed their evangelical work. The Protestant missionaries were the pioneers, in particular, in the Tamil Desam and they learned the local languages to communicate with the locals. They also realized the languages spoken in India were far advanced and rich in literature.
Their writings also covered many negative elements in the traditional Hindu society such as Sati, Devadasi system, child marriages and they created an awareness about their bad impact on the society among the people. Their criticism of age old Indian transitional system also made the people think about the evils in the colonialism as well. In a way the missionaries' teachings in vernacular and English played a vital role in bringing about the emergence of liberal thoughts, fundamental freedom, human rights, rationalistic thinking and criticism of ruling classes. Both the rich and the poor were the beneficiaries. In the later part of colonialism, the English language brought the educated people of different region on one platform when they started the freedom movement against the British.
The western system of education was introduced earlier in the erstwhile state of Travancore (now in Kerala), particularly, in the southern part that now forms part of Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and the Maratha kingdom of Tanjore (Delta district of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu) after its first introduction in Madras. Like Rev. William Tobias RingleTaube (born 1770 --? ), a Protestant Missionary from Germany, who was a pioneer in the introduction of English education in Travancore (1806), in the delta region of present day Tamil Nadu, the missionaries of the Danish mission at Tharangampadi (Tranquebar, Nagapatnam district)) founded by Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (10 July 1682 – 23 February 1719), a member of the Lutheran clergy played a vital role in promoting and motivating western education without clashing with the local culture and languages. Ziegenbalg was the first Protestant missionary to India and arrived in Tranquebar in July 1706. He was also the first to introduce the printing press to print evangelical work as well as vernacular works in India. With the introduction of education, Protestant mission progressively showed their leaning from moral to ideological, from ideological to political reasoning. The credit goes to Rev. Frederick C. Schwartz (1726–1798), a German Lutheran missionary to India who came to Tiruchi in 1761 and founded schools and churches between 1772 and 1790 with support from the Tanjore Maratha Maharajah and also from the Nawab of Arcot.The Martha ruler was of great help to Rev. Schwartz as he was close to him.
|Rev. Frederick C. Schwartz serfojimemorialhall.com|
A milestone in this school's history is the world's first Interact Club, the junior wing of the Rotary Club in schools, came up here in 1962. This school has taken the honor of being the first one in India to teach English to the Indians. Yet another distinction the school should be proud of is the fact that Rev G. U. Pope served in this school for some time. As you may recall Rev. Pope was a scholar in Tamil and had translated the great work of Thirukkural written by Thruvalluvar (who lived several centuries ago into English. The 1330 couplets in Tamil are packed with teachings that cover the numerous aspects of of life - philosophy, religion, psychology, morality, senses, king-wood, etc., The school has a spacious ground called Huzur Mahal garden, a private garden of the Maratha kings adjacent to the annex building. In 1924, it was taken on a long lease to use it for playground. Once, the ground used To be the venue of Cricket matches, Foot ball matches and even National Boxing competitions. Famous Wrestlers like Tara Singh, King Kong and Black demon (Kaarum Bootham), et al visited this ground in the 1950s and 1960s. The ground was used by the circus companies in the 1950s an 1960s. The play ground presently is not well kept and trespassing by motorbike riders from the near-by Bazaar street is an eyesore. In 1864it got the status of a second grade college, however, because of lack of funds the college could not function beyond 1906.
St. John's Vestry Anglo Higher Secondary School (founded in 1763 adjacent to St.John's Church), St. Joseph High school and College, Tiruchi Central bus stand owe their origin to the Christian Missionaries, in particular, Rev. Schwartz. The Angelo Indian school, one of the oldest institutions in India was built for the British soldiers' children.
The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) (now named the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) was organized by Rev. Dr. Thomas Bray under a charter from King William III in 1701 to establish SPG as an organization authorized to send priests and schoolteachers to America to minister to the colonists and to “take the message of the gospel to the slaves and native Americans.
The SPG quickly expanded into the West Indies, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and West Africa, and in the 19th century into India and South Africa.
After 1825, the SPG accepted responsibility for the Danish and English missions in Tamil Nadu, as well as conducting its own work elsewhere in India.