Silchar, the second biggest city in Assam has a storied past, facets of which still remain unknown to a lot of its own denizens. How the name of the place – Silchar, came to be and how Silchar had the oldest Polo Club in Asia are pretty common knowledge and Wikipedia mainstays. But in this article, we are going to discuss an equally significant artifact from the past that does not get its deserved attention for its history – the first English education institution in Silchar.
The colonial history of the region, and in fact the nation, is not a hidden fact. In fact, we can still see the vestiges of the colonial past in several of our present-day buildings. However, not many know that the Govt. Boys Higher Secondary School has roots as far back as 1863.
The school was established by a Reverend Pyrse in the year 1863. It was then known as the High Grammar School. Reverend William Pyrse was then known as a pioneer in English education in the Surma Valley (Surma River along with the Kushiyara is a distributary of the Barak River). First having established English language educational institutions in Sylhet and the rest of Bengal, he went on to establish the school in Silchar. He was a great contributor to the spread of “Modern” English education in the region.
Silchar by then had already started to establish itself as a centre for transportation and commerce. Being located centrally in South Assam as well as the close proximity with a large number of tea plantations meant that the place rose in prominence gradually. This meant that at least some capital was spent on improving the infrastructure of the region as the establishment of the High Grammar School was one of them.
The school continued with its intended purpose until the Indian Independence in 1947, following which it was restarted as a Bengali Medium school and a good one at that. Over the years though, its relevance and significance has been somewhat relegated to the annals of history. The degree of pedigree and prestige that an institution of such storied history needs to have has been lost in the sands of time. In the current climate, it can be argued that remaining in and advocating for retaining the colonial mindset might not be the most prudent course of action, however, it is within reason to argue that there is a need to reclaim the history for ourselves to ensure that we feel connected to the institutions that shape us.