Seldom can India forget the year 1857, the first war of independence against the colonial rulers. In contrast, the same year, a Christian missionary was helping Indians brew another revolution, this time against female illiteracy. An ENN report
It was the time when female education was only a vision. In the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra, there was absolutely no provision for girls’ education beyond the middle school stage. The girls who wished to continue with their education beyond this stage had to go to boys’ schools and this was no easy thing to do in those days.
It took the courage and resolve of Mrs Cooper, wife of a Nagpur missionary, who thought that the time had come when a beginning was made. With the belief that action was better than just ideas, she took the lead and opened a school in the verandah of her bungalow in 1857 and named it Coopers School. In 1858, with 13 students on roll, the school was re-christened to St. Ursula Girls’ High School.
It took 12 years for the school to get its old building and by 1871, the strength of students at the school grew to 50. It was then that the government took note of the school and sanctioned a grant of `25, a huge amount in those days. Interestingly the medium of Mrs Cooper’s school was Marathi.
In essence, Mrs Cooper pioneered the cause of girls’ education in Maharashtra. The institution soon took firm roots which proved that it was needed. In 1887, Mrs Cooper entrusted the responsibilities of the school to a band of women who kept up the noble work with Ms. Smith at the helm of affairs as its first Principal. In 1907, the first student from the school passed the matriculation examination and five years later, the school got recognised from the Allahabad University.
The actual development of the school, however, began only in 1924 when it got a new building. After a few years, the school opened a Hindi section, was upgraded to Higher Secondary in 1962 and was permanently recognised 1966 onwards.
With a series of achievements, awards and titles, the institution has gradually spread its wings. Ursula has established a junior college with commerce, science and bifocal (computer science and electronics) to impart knowledge and nurture girls towards reaching greater heights. “Ursulites believe in accomplishing dreams for an educational system that makes one self–reliant and independent to lead a dignified life,” says the current Principal Rachna Singh. “Children are a bundle of talent and their holistic development has been our aim,” she adds.
With a team of committed and enthusiastic faculties, trainers and teachers, the Ursula family has managed to motivate students to progress in life and explore and rise to greater heights. Besides academics, the institution also has RSP, NCC, Social Service, MCC, Guide, CMCA, and PTA and rotary interact club wings, inculcating a scientific temperament and encouraging the students to learn and get groomed through enjoyable activities.
Ursula is not restricted to classroom studies, but has also imparted skills of cognition, effective communication, negotiation computing and value-based education for a harmonious life. The school believes in inspiring students to be on the forefront of talent and potential and provides them with a conducive environment to display their talents and skills. Through the number of years that the school has been in existence, it has transformed itself and in turn, helped transform the lives of several girls of Nagpur who, along with their future generations, owe their dignified and educated existence to this very school.