Pune’s Rasta Peth Edcuation society has 100 years in sight
It was in the 1920s, when the eastern part of Pune city was economically and educationally backward, when personalities like Sardar SC Mudaliyar, Reverend SD Savarkar, Sardar NK Dastoor, MA Raste, Khanbahaddur M Salahuddin and SN Karnataki, came together and started the Rasta Peth Education Society on August 29, 1927.Updated: Jan 08, 2018 15:34 IST
The Rasta Peth Education Society celebrates its 90th year of existence and has planned a series of programmes as the countdown towards its centenary year.
It was in the 1920s, when the eastern part of Pune city was economically and educationally backward, when personalities like Sardar SC Mudaliyar, Reverend SD Savarkar, Sardar NK Dastoor, MA Raste, Khanbahaddur M Salahuddin and SN Karnataki, came together and started the Rasta Peth Education Society on August 29, 1927, fulfilling an acute need to impart education.
A Marathi school was established with 150 students to enlighten the deprived classes. The school started to gain momentum under Dattatraya Pilaji, aka Abasaheb Atre, after he took over reins as head master in 1933.
In 1936, it was Dr Prabha Atre’s father who started night English classes to help the working class get basic knowledge and exposure.
“With his painstaking efforts the night classes gained popularity and was turned into a night school in 1950. In 1987, the night school began a junior college. A popular English teacher, head master, an enterprising secretary, my father along with us dedicated his whole life to shaping and developing society,” recalls Dr Prabha Atre, senior vocalist of the Kirana gharana and his daughter, and on the managing committee of the Rasta peth education society.
She remembers being the only girl amongst the boys in the 1940s. “Difficulty was in attending classes with the boys, but otherwise learning was always fun. Learning was very enjoyable, we were exposed to so many things. I owe what I am today to this education I received from this school.”
Although her father didn’t teach her in the class, she remembers getting caned for coming late to school. “He would stand at the entrance of the school and thrash every one coming late. I too have got my lesson of being on time after one such beating,” she smiles at the memory.
She feels that parents today should also consider education in Marathi-medium schools and not simply rush to English-medium schools. “We live in Maharashtra and at least we should be able to respect and study the Marathi language.”
The different institutions of the society have thus been named after Abasaheb Atre since 1993. Sardar S.C. Mudaliyar, Diwan Bahadur Jagtap, Raosaheb Dixit, Haribhau Pataskar - the then vice-chancellor of Pune university, Kakasaheb Gadgil - the then governor of Punjab, educationist V K Jog, industrialist Baburao Parkhi, social activist Nilubhau Limaye, renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Suresh Wagh, chartered accountant Divakar Shukla have all led the society.
The society which started with a Marathi-medium school with 150 students today houses under its various institutions nearly 3,000 students. The institutes have libraries, laboratories, computer centres, auditorium, gymnasium and other facilities.
Teachers like K S Panse and Dyaneshwar Bhange have received National awards from the President of India making the institution proud.
Appreciating the yeoman service being rendered by the society for the cause of education, the then vice-president of India, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, in 1959, visited the society and in 1987 the then vice-president of India Shankar Dayal Sharma graced the diamond jubilee celebrations of the society.