|John Bethune, founder, Hindu girls' school Wikiwand|
|John Bethune, founder, Hindu girls' school.Indian Philately Diges|
During the colonial period under the East India company, women's education in the Indian society was not given any priority as the Indian natives were conservative to the core regardless of their religion and caste. No British administrator tried to impress on the Indian community the value of woman's education and its benefits. That woman's education is equally important for the progress and welfare of the society did not dawn on them.
Some European administrators and and European preachers - both men and women wanted to change the appalling conditions prevailing then regarding women's education. Unfortunately, many preachers included Christian teaching as a subject and this did not enthuse the high society people. Some preachers approached the poor girls to enroll in the school with some enticements. So, somewhere down the line something called "sincere and dedicated approach" to women's education was missing. Some administrators felt education should not have religious compulsion. John Bethune, British lawyer with the EIC, on the side lines, wanted to make the Indian women literate and be progressive and saw considerable success despite social taboos and odds prevailing in the conservative Indian society.
|John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune (1801–1851)Wikipedia|
|Bethune school / college, Kolkata. Mythical India|
Mr. Bethune was instrumental in starting the school in Cornwallis Square for the education of the daughters of the natives, and it was the first of its kind in Calcutta. In November, 1850 Hon'ble Sir John Litter, then Deputy Governor of Bengal laid the foundation stone of the spacious building that included a fine residence for the Head Mistress on the premises. He did not live to see the school building. In memory of the founder there is an oil painting and a bust size statue in the premises there. He, without any hesitation, bore the financial burden of the Hindu Girls' School project.
The earliest schools for Indian girls were opened at Gouribari in north Kolkata in 1819 and another one in 1820, The former was run by the Calcutta Female Juvenile Society, under the Calcutta Baptist Mission Society and the latter was started by Mrs. Gogerly under the auspices of London Missionary Society. The subjects taught included reading and writing in Bengali, in geography, needlework and the Bible. The students were from the lower strata of the Hindu society. In 1818, David Hare established the School Society in Calcutta and liberal Hindus preferred their women to go to school. However, this view was not shared by others in society. One Ms. Mary Ann Cooke, in 1821 with the Church Missionary Society started schools and due to her efforts least 277 girls were benefited. The first school for girls in India was opened by Mahatma Jotiba Govindrao Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule in 1850, at Bhide wada in Pune city of Maharashtra region of India.
Bengal Ladies Society started by Lady Amherst had 19 girl's schools with 450 students in different parts of Bengal. according a report. As most of those schools were run by Christian women as part of their missionary work, the Bengali high society people - mostly Hindus were not ready to send their girls to school. They did not like religion mixed with school studies.
The Young Bengal group had been in the forefront and a persistent advocate of the cause of Indian women. One Peary Charan Sarkar, a former student of Hindu College, took the initiative and set up a free school for girls in 1847 in Barasat, a suburb of Calcutta (later the school was named Kalikrishna Girls' High School). Mr. Bethune had a chance to visit this school as part of his inspection work being the President of the Council of Education and was much impressed by the functioning of this native school. Once he left the portals of this institution, his long-lasting impression about the school made him think differently regarding Indian women's education.
|Bethune collegiate school Noise Break|
|John Bethune's grave in Kolkata. astoundingbengal.blogspot.in/|