Navabharat Night School - on mission education for 80 years

Navabharat Night High School, considered the first night school in the country, has been serving society for last 8 decades

Published: 26th June 2022 05:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th June 2022 05:58 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

MANGALURU: As a high school boy, Khalid Mohammed used to often find illiterate people knocking on his doors to read letters for them. The visitors were mostly elderly and disadvantaged whose children had migrated from Mangaluru to Mumbai and elsewhere in search of greener pastures. 

It was then that the young Khalid, motivated by Mahatma Gandhi’s call for adult education movement, decided to teach such people how to read and write. Mohammed, a tin maker in the neighbourhood who was also not educated, was generous enough to spare his courtyard for a few hours each day for the noble cause. 

Five adults — Khader, Krishna, Kusappa, Rahiman and Mohammed himself — were the first students when the night school came into existence on March 15, 1943.Buoyed by the good response, the next year Khalid started primary classes in a building opposite KRK Shet Building on BEM High School Road in Mangaluru and named it Noubahar Night School. Gradually, middle and high school classes were added. Later, during its golden jubilee celebration in 1992, the school managed to get its own three-storeyed building on Car Street.

Called Navabharat Night High School now, it is run by the Navabharat Education Society. Said to be the first night school in the country and the only one still functioning, it is celebrating 80 years of its existence this year. Khalid, who was an English teacher at Badriya High School for a while, later became the headmaster of the night school and continued in the same post till he passed away a few years ago. The school, which does not charge any fee from students, has seen a lot of transformation over the last eight decades. During its initial years, the school got a stream of adults who did not know how to read or write. Later it started getting adults who had dropped out of schools due to financial constraints but wanted to complete their schooling to get a job or promotion. Those who study here write the SSLC examination by enrolling as private candidates.

The institution now has over 60 students, who are mostly children of labourers. Almost all these kids go to day schools, but also come to the night school as their parents are away at work in the evenings. 
Dr Vaman Shenoy, president of the Navabharat Education Society, beams with pride when he says many students from here have gone on to become doctors, engineers, advocates and also are employed abroad. There was a time when the school used to brim with 250-300 students, who used to stand outside the doors and windows of classrooms to listen to lectures. Bicycles used to be parked on both sides of the narrow road in front of the school building in Bunder.

The school has not received any government grant since its inception and runs only on donations. “Our founder Khalid Mohammed’s son Dr AR Nazeer who is a professor at a university in Saudi Arabia, Dr Vinay Hegde of Nitte, Kind Foundation, Canara Foundation and others contribute to the cause,” said M Ramachandra, secretary of the Society. Ramachandra himself was a student at the school. He later became its manager before he became secretary. “I dropped out of school after Class 8 because of poverty. After a gap of five years, I joined the night school,” he says.

The free school has six teachers and two office staff. Dinesh Kumar, a clerk at Canara College, has been teaching at the night school for the last 25 years. “I wanted to contribute something for society and that is the reason I am here,” he says. He teaches at the school from 6 am to 8.30 pm.Varkady Ravi Alevoorya, the present headmaster, says they have not kept the count of the total number of students educated in the school, but it could be in thousands. 

“The student strength has dwindled over the last few years as the government now lays a lot of stress on education and makes regular follow-ups on absentee students to bring them back. But we still keep our doors open as there may be people who still need our help,” he adds. The school has a computer centre and also teaches Yakshagana. Dr AR Naseer says the school belongs to the public and they need to take it forward.

“As a teenager, my father was drawn to Mahatma Gandhi’s adult education movement which led him to start this school. It was the first home for my father and he used to spend most of his time here,” he recalls.


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