The Kothibagh Girls Higher Secondary School, established in 1886, has played a pivotal role in the field of girl education in Kashmir.
Being close to Lal Chowk, the school has been witness to and withstood many political upheavals. But all along its journey from 1886, the school, which is spread over a vast campus just behind the famous SP College, has stood like a rock and continued its mission of imparting education to girls.
One of the top schoolsThe school has now been designated as a model school by the Directorate of School Education, Kashmir. The J&K Government has decided to give it top priority to make model schools best government schools in the state.
Srinagar district has 30 higher secondary institutes, out of which nine schools, including the Kothibagh one, are dedicated and designated as girls higher secondary institutes, where the focus is on girls’ education.
“As per my assessment, this school is one of the best government educational institutions, which is as good as other private educational institutions of the Kashmir valley in terms of imparting education,” Director, School Education, Kashmir Shah Faisal told.
He said keeping in view the performance of this school, be it annual 10th or 12th class exam results or extra-curricular activities, the school was recently declared as one of the government model schools in Srinagar district.
Under the model school category, Shah Faisal said the designated schools, including Kothibagh one, would receive additional grants, care and infrastructure upgrade like digital labs, smart classrooms equipped with projectors.
The Kothibagh school has been receiving special attention from the Education Ministry which is evident from the fact that in the last six months, Education Minister Naeem Akher has visited it at least 10 times. The priority is, officials in the Education Department point out, to further promote the Kothibagh school as an institution of excellence.
Govt wants turnaround in education sector the Kashmir province has, besides 2610 private schools. However, over the years, the dismal performance and poor infrastructure in government schools have led to poor enrolment in such schools.
As per official figures, the total enrolment of students in Kashmir schools is 15,22759, out of which 9,33,025 students are enrolled in 11,766 government schools. A whopping 5,89,734 students are enrolled and being imparted and offered better educational opportunities in 2,610 private schools.
So, by designating at least one government school in every Assembly constituency of the state, the J&K Government is aiming for a turnaround in the state education sector.
First girls’ school in Valley
When the Kothibagh school was established during the reign of Dogra ruler Sri Pratap Singh in Srinagar, it was the first and the only girls school in the whole of the Kashmir valley.
Almost every year, the school, now upgraded to higher secondary, regularly features in the merit list due to the 10th as well as 12th class annual examinations. It is perhaps this educational excellence that the Kothibagh School has been attracting the best and talented lot among the city’s girl students.
The school was first established as a girls primary school during the rule of Dogra king Pratap Singh and later was upgraded to girls middle school.
That time it was the first girls school in the entire Kashmir valley, said Nusrat Bukhari, a senior lecturer at the Kothibagh Girls Higher Secondary School.The institute was upgraded to the higher secondary level in 1976. However, the institute was badly damaged during the September 2014 floods, during which many classrooms, labs and the school library were damaged.
“I would say even the floods could not dampen the spirits of this school. But our department has tried its best to restore the infrastructure here and even today the restoration work is going on in Kothibagh school,” the Director, Education, Kashmir, further added.
A student’s experience
“Every teacher in the Kothibagh school is different in her/his way of teaching. Every teacher is used to give equal importance to every and individual student, which sets it apart from other schools around,” said Ishrah Rashid, who completed her 10+2 from the Kothibagh school.