Mahatma Gandhi’s alma mater shuts down after 164 yrs, to be reopened as a museum | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Mahatma Gandhi’s alma mater shuts down after 164 yrs, to be reopened as a museum

Enrolment of students to the institution – now known as the Mohandas Gandhi Vidhyalaya – has been falling for many years now. The official nod for the museum project was accorded on Monday, when the Rajkot Municipal Corporation took over the reins of the school from the education department.

india Updated: May 09, 2017 21:33 IST
Hiral Dave
A vintage photograph of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as the Mahatma, with his charkha.
A vintage photograph of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as the Mahatma, with his charkha. (Getty Images)

The Alfred High School in Rajkot, famously known as Mahatma Gandhi’s alma mater, has closed its doors after 164 long years. It will be reopened as a museum soon.

According to sources, enrolment of students to the institution – now known as the Mohandas Gandhi Vidhyalaya – had been falling for many years now. The official nod for the museum project was accorded on Monday, when the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) took over the reins of the school from the education department.

Gandhi had passed out of the school in 1887, at the age of 18, after studying there for seven years.

Though the institution was launched as the Alfred High School by the British in 1853, it was rechristened as Mohandas Gandhi Vidhyalaya after Independence. It offered education up to Class 12 in the science stream.

A view of the school, spread over 600 square metres of land in the heart of the city. (HT Photo)

Spread over nearly 600 square metres of land in the heart of the city, the government-run school had 40 classrooms, a library, laboratories and a sprawling playground. However, RMC authorities say its student count in the last academic session stood at a mere 109, and even among them, only 35 attended classes regularly.

That’s a dreary number, considering that the school employs as many as 40 staff members.

The student count at the Mohandas Gandhi Vidhyalaya came down from 345 in 2011-12 to 141 in 2015-16. When the number plunged further in 2016-17, the district administration decided to go ahead with its museum plans.

“Students were shifted to another government school, the Karansinhji high school, which is located just 400 metres away,” Rajkot mayor Jaiman Upadhyay told HT. “The civic body wants to turn the Mahatma’s school into a state-of-the-art museum that will attract tourists from India and abroad.”

The RMC is set to pump in funds amounting to Rs 15 crore for the museum, which will feature sound and light shows as well as 3D projection mapping films on the life and times of Gandhi, among other attractions. The interactive sessions will have commentaries in seven global languages for the convenience of foreign tourists.

A locked gate of the school. (HT Photo)

The mayor said the school was suffering because it only offered science and technical courses to students, when there are many more options like ITI and polytechnic education available to them.

The Alfred High School, founded in 1853, was the first English medium educational institution of the kind to be established in the Saurashtra region. The building was built by the Nawab of the erstwhile princely state of Junagadh in 1875 and named after Prince Alfred, the duke of Edinburgh.

The structure was severely damaged in the 2001 earthquake. It was later renovated with monetary aid drawn from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.