History of Saint Anthony Indian School in Durban

When the Indian indentured labourers were discharged from their contracts, they faced a challenge of acceptance in their communities and many chose to remain in Durban. They were not regarded as white or part of the black community. They were faced with the challenge of creating their own culture and community amongst poverty and restricted facilities. It was through this challenge that Christian missionaries found a loophole to step in and assist especially the deprived Christian and Hindu community of Durban who, unlike their Muslim counterparts, lacked capitalistic skills. There was a growing need for an education system to eradicate poverty and unhealthy living conditions of the Indian community, hence there was a priority to set up missionary schools.

Initially, a night school was set up by Father JB Sabon who knew Tamil and worked with the Indian community of Durban and North Coast. He started the first Indian school in Durban and brought Tamil literature from Ceylon. He got pupils from all ages and adults involved in his school, although it was a Catholic initiative; it was open for all religions in the community. The school offered basic education skills to help in finding employment. The school was taken over by Father Boudry when Father JB Sabon passed away.

In 1888 the Bishop built a new school on a church site the Mission rented from the Durban Corporation in Prince Albert Street and was headed by Father Gourlay. He had the Holy Family Sisters to take over to stop the stereotype that the school was limited to Catholics.

In 1904 Father Rauol Maingot came to Durban and he spent most of his time with the Indian community and getting involved in missionary work. He encouraged the move of Saint Anthony School in 1906 from the church to a well furnished building in Victoria Street. The school started with 8 teachers, good education facilities and was graded as excellent by the Head Inspector in 1910. Saint Anthony Indian School continued to strive for excellence in both academic and the arts and crafts fields. The school gained awards over the years and also took the floating trophy of the Natal Indian Exhibition of Arts and Crafts once. Their education programs included academic, arts, music, speech training and sports.

In 1935 the St Anthony’s School was moved from Victoria Street to its current site at the corner of Centenary Road and Carlisle Street in Durban. The school operated as a primary school until 1960 when there was a secondary phase included. In 1987, the school became a primary school again and became a feeder school to nearby high schools mainly Durban Girls High School and Sastri College. In 1985, the Holy Family Sisters gave up the administration of the school and formed Board of Management. The school was to remain as a government aided school. The first appointed principal was Mrs Carol Nair and currently the school is headed by Miss Colleen Hoover who is a former pupil of the school. The school had managed to create skilled professionals that are employed in different fields. The school is still in existence and forms an important aspect of the history of education facilities in Durban.

IsiZulu Summary: Umlando wesikole i-Saint Anthony Indian saseThekwini
Ngesikhathi iningi lamaNdiya liqeda izinkontileka zobugqila nabaqashi babo ziningi izingqinamba abahlangabezana nazo ukuziqalela impilo yabo ezweni laseNingizimu Afrika. Yingalesikhathi lapho abenkolo yabaKrestu bakwazi ukungena babasiza nalabo benkolo yamaHindu. Kwabonakala ukuthi kunesidingo esikhulu sesikole ukuze bakwazi ukufunda khona bezokwazi ukuthuthukisa izinga lempilo yabo.

Kwaqala kwabakhona izikole zasemishini. Kwaqala ngesikole sasebusuku esaqalwa uFather JB Sabon, owayekwazi ukukhuluma isiTamil futhi ekwazi ukuphilisana nemiphakathi yamaNdiya eyakhele iTheku kanye neNyakatho yeKwaZulu Natali. Waqala isikole sokuqala edolobheni laseThekwini, izincwadi zesiTamil zalandwa eCeylon. Lesikole sasifundisa abantu abadala nabancane ukubasiza ukuthi bathole imisebenzi engcono. Noma sasiphethwe ngamaKhatholika kodwa sasivuleleke kuzozonke ezenkolo ezahlukene. Ngonyaka ka 1888 kwakhiwa isikole emgaqweni uPrince Albert esaphathwa nguFather Gorlay okwathi ngemuva kwakhe kwaphatha izelamani zomndeni wakwaHoly.

Ngalesikhathi isikole sasakhiwe endaweni yesonto okwathi ngonyaka ka 1904 uFather Rauol Maingot efika eThekwini wagqugquzela ukuthi isikole sisuswe esontweni sakhiwe emgaqweni uVictoria. Isikole saqala ngothisha abangu 8 futhi sasisezingeni eliphezulu ngo 1910 ngokusho kowayephethe ezemfundo. Kwathi ngonyaka ka1935 isikole sasuka emgaqweni uVictoria sakhiwa ekhoneni lemigwaqo uCentenary kanye noCarlisle lapho esisame khona nanamuhla. Ngaphambi konyaka ka 1960 kwakuyisikole samabanga aphansi kuphela. Kwathi ngayo iminyaka leyo kwengezwa namabanga aphezulu. Kwathi ngonyaka ka 1987, saphinda saba ngesamabanga aphansi kuphela. Ngonyaka ka1985 izelamani zakwaHoly zabeka phansi izintambo zokwengamela lesikole, salawulwa yikomiti elalikhethiwe. Isikole sesingaphansi kukahulumeni, uthishanhloko wokuqala uNkosikazi Carol Nair, manje sesiphethwe nguNkosazane Colleen Hoover owayengumfundi walesikole.

By: Yoveshine Pillay
Reference: The Post Newspaper, November 16 2010, page 103

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