Bhopal: This Teachers’ Day, some well-known elderly personalities of the city walk down the memory lane to recall their school and college days, the atmosphere that prevailed in their alma maters and how they were taught.
Babulal Gaur, 87, former chief minister
Nowadays, education institutions have much more facilities as compared to our times. A good number of private schools, colleges and universities have are available. In the Nawabi-era Bhopal, there were no private schools for commoners. So, we used to study in government schools. There were a few private schools, to which only children of royal families had access. Though there was no RTE, but education was compulsory in the sense that the teachers used to come to our homes if we did not go to the school and complained to our parents. Till class two, we studied sitting on taat-pattis and the teachers sat on chairs. We got benches in class three. We were taught only four subjects – English, Hindi, Urdu and Mathematics. Besides, we also attended a moral education class in which Pundits taught Hindu children and Maulavis, the Muslim kids. There was no scope of cheating in the exams. But there was no exam stress. We were asked 10 questions of which we had to answer any five. There was no provision for grace marks. Our teachers were very sincere and strict. They were not at all liberal with marks. I was always punished for reaching late to the class. I was not a very brilliant student. I always passed in the second division. Maine majdoori karke padhai ki hai. The atmosphere in the schools was very lovely then. Education was not a business.
Lajja Shankar Herdenia, 82, journalist
The atmosphere in education institutions, especially in centres of higher education was not stifling then. Debate, discussion and dissent were not only allowed, but were welcomed. Teachers were genuine scholars and had no fear writing against the government. When I was studying in Nagpur University, the Congress was in power. I remember, as president of Hindi Samiti of the university, I had invited author Yashpal, who was known for his leftist leanings, to a programme. The V-C was a Congress-appointee and was not happy. He even pulled me up. But when Yashpal came, the V-C quietly came and sat down in the last row to hear his speech. Such was his greatness. I invited Dr Lohia on another occasion and he frankly criticised Nehru. And the V-C did not object. In our times everyone had equal room for expressing his feelings. The school teachers were very committed to their profession. They even used to take tuitions in the night at their homes and did not charge a pie for it. I did my Intermediate from Sagar University and there was a history teacher SR Mohanty who used to take our class in the library thrice a week to develop reading habit among students.
Manzoor Ahtesham, 69, writer
It was quite different from today. I did my schooling from Cambridge School, Bhopal in the 1950s. At that time, it was the only English medium co-ed school in Bhopal. The tuition fee was very nominal – just Rs 25. Teachers were very particular about attendance and marks. We had to maintain strict discipline. At that time, there was no internet and no computer and books were the only source of information. We spent most of our time in the library. We had to read a lot of books. After high school, I went Aligarh Muslim University for pursuing engineering. But the university was in turmoil at that time so I came back to Bhopal and took admission in MACT. Things have undergone a sea change including mode of transport, curriculum and infrastructure. And it is good also. Things should change with time. Yes, Teachers’ Day used to be celebrated in our school.
Nirmala Buch, ex-chief secretary of MP
The teaching style was similar like now. Teachers were very cooperative but they were very particular about marks. Nowadays, students get 100 per cent marks easily even in humanities and English. It was not so earlier. We had to work hard for getting good marks. At that time, there was a great craze for government schools. Many persons who studied in government schools then went places. Yes, in our time also Teachers’ Day was celebrated but not with fanfare.