Monday, 20 February 2017

St. Mary's school, Dindigul, one of the oldest in Tamil Nadu

 In the 18th century  Christian Missionaries, as elsewhere in India, were the pioneers of English Education in South India. The  erstwhile  state of Travancore (now 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) saw the introduction of western education.

Rev. William Tobias RingleTaube (born 1770 --? ), a Protestant Missionary from Germany, was the first one to introduce English education in Travancore (1806). As for Tamil Nadu State, the missionaries of the Danish mission at Tharangampadi (Tranquibar, Nagapatnam district)) did splendid work in promoting  and motivating western education without clashing with the local culture and languages. 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.

St Mary' school Dindigul TN . school emblem.
 St. Mary's Higher Secondary School  in Dindigul city, Tamil Nadu state is one of the oldest schools in India.  Established in 1850 by the Society of Jesus (Jesuit), the purpose was to make education available to the poor. In those days, centuries ago, education was available only to the rich and the poor had no access whatsoever to  education.  Foreign Jesuits, when exposed to the appalling conditions under which the poor were living in India, took the initiative to educate the children of common people. The Jesuits belonged to the Catholic male religious order of  Ignatius of Loyola' were also in the forefront to spread the western-oriented English education in this region in a traditional way.

 St. Mary's Higher Secondary School is one of the  prominent institutions of the Jesuit Madurai Province; the other being  St. Joseph's School and St. Joseph's College, Tiruchy (1844), St. Mary's School, Madurai (1855), Loyola College, Chennai (1925) and others.  Madurai Province is the oldest Jesuit Province in India. Jesuit presence in this land of Tamils began since the times of St Francis Xavier (1852). After his visit to this region, Antony Criminali (1520–1549), Henri Henriques (1520–1600), Goncalo Fernandez (1541–1621), Robert de Nobili (1577–1656) and
 others came from  Goa to the Tamil region to pursue  the
evangelistic work. 
Fathers's' House, St. Mary's school, Dindigul, Tamil Nadu.

Located in the center of the city, St. Mary's is a  government-aided school but also receives funds from Jesuits abroad. The school has several buildings and the clock house was built during the British period. More than 4000 students study here. They conduct classes up to  matriculation. It began as a high school and later added higher secondary, under the accreditation of the Government of Tamil Nadu Education Board.