A LOOK INTO THE PAST
1904. The year when the KSI Jamaat first established a school in the rooms adjoining their mosque premises in the Old Town. The school’s primary goal was to teach the Holy Qurán as well as impart religious teachings to children of both genders. In later years, vernacular education was started, but it was not until 1930 that the community decided to introduce proper elementary classes.
In 1932, an application for government aid was made, and a year later, the school was officially recognised by the Government Education Department as a Grant-in-Aid School, with a grant in the sum of £140 given to the school.
Due to the limited accommodation and space at Old Town, children were taught up to Standard V, thereafter students were sent to various other government and private schools. They included, but were not limited to, the White Sister’s Covenant and the Goan High School. Despite the minor setback, the community strived to ensure that they would eventually accommodate a full primary education to the children in the near future.
As years passed, it wasn’t until 1944 when community members decided to build a modern and well- ventilated school. A fund was immediately raised and £21,000 was collected from the members of the community. The initial application for the site made in that year was rejected in1949, but keeping their vision in mind, and through perseverance, it wasn’t until 17th December 1951 when the foundation stone of the current Alibhai Panju building located on a beautiful two-acre plot in Kizingo was finally laid by the Honourable Mr. E. A. Vasey, then Member for Finance. A government contribution of £17,250 was made to the total cost of £45,000 that was required for construction, assembly hall, and furniture.
The main donor, the Late Mr. Alibhai Panju contributed £7,500, and thus the building was named in his honor as the Alibhai Panju Khoja Shiá Ithnaásheri School.
In the initial years, the question of having all members of the staff properly qualified and trained was difficult, but under the able control of a trained graduate Principal, Mr. K A Siddiqui, the school remained in satisfactory position, which only improved as time went on. Progress was certainly made. The Ithnaásheri Education Board was established by the community and the school was regularly been inspected by the inspectors of the Education Department.
The main reason for establishing private schools was to focus and enhance on religious teachings and thanks to the revised Education Ordinance in1953, religious teachings in Kenyan schools was made compulsory. Qualified religious teachers began imparting teachings to children of both genders at the school, with a ‘baby class’ that was established for students under the age of 6. The school also established a sewing class for ex- students that had good attendance.
At the beginning of the establishment of the school in1954, the total attendance on the roll was 109 boys and 93 girls and the underage children of the baby classes were 52. Sewing classes had 40 pupils. The building however could accommodate 480 pupils, with boys on the ground floor and girls on the upper floor. It was estimated that by1960 it would be filled to capacity. The foundation of the building was made to carry 3 storeys, and with two floors already built, an additional floor could be constructed in the event more classrooms were required.
No doubt, to run an educational institute is a difficult task, and today, people have become education- minded, but the apathy shown by the majority of parents towards the education of their own children makes the problem more difficult. It is in this vein we would need to re-evaluate our goals and missions as laid by history to continue striving to build our future generation as the years progress.
We cannot forget our past leaders: the Late Mr. Abdullah Kanji and the Late Valimohammed Ladha, who along with other leading members took a very keen interest in the education of our children and at whose initiative and forethought and with the co-operation of other wealthy members of my community, it was possible to raise sufficient money for this school.