The First School for Girls in India

The History of Education of Women in India

The history of educating women in India is very old. In Jainism, women enjoyed freedom of learning various subjects from the era of the first Teerthankar, i.e. ford maker. According to Jain mythology, Rishabh, the first ford maker of Jainism educated his daughters Bambhi (Brahmi) and Sundari. Brahmi was specially educated in script, while Sundari was specially educated in Mathematics. The story of Rishabh tells us that he taught 64 arts or subjects to women.

In Vedic era, we find many women who were well educated in various subjects. Many of the Vedic verses are written by women.

But the educated women in ancient India belonged to either royal families or Brahmins. The girls belonging to these two classes were taught at home as there is no reference to girl students admitted to the Gurukuls, the ancient Indian system of education. No Mass Education System for girls was available. However, women interested in learning writing and reading were taught in temples.

In fact men and women in India were able to get necessary education at home or workplaces by tradition as well as at temples and mosques and other places in villages. The subject which were taught there included Reading and Writing, Mathematics, Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, Astrology etc. However the education given in temples was not available for outcast people.

Modern Education in India

After establishment of British rule in India, the Britishers needed native people to work for them. Obviously they wanted that the people should learn through Western education system. This was beginning of modern western education for masses in India. British and American Christian Missionaries are the pioneers of establishing primary schools giving Western of type education in India. They established many schools in various parts of the country. Today most of the schools in India follow the role model of the missionary schools.

Savitribai Phule, Women Educator of Mid 19th Century in India.
Savitribai Phule, Women Educator of Mid 19th Century in India.

First Indian School for Girls

British and American missionaries are the first to start schools for girls in India. Such schools were established in as early as 1810. The missionaries started many schools for girls in Bengal region. Following them, The Ladies Society for Native Female Education in Calcutta founded many schools for girls.

The first Indian who started a school for girls in India was Peary Charan Sarkar (Born 1823, Died 1875). The school was established at Barasat town in 1847. Two brothers Nabin Krishna Mitra and Kali Krishna Mitra funded the school. This school is still working and is known as Kalikrishna Girls' High School. John Elliot, a British officer visited this school and was inspired by it and started a school for Girls at Kolkata in 1849.

In August 1848, Mahatma Jotirao Phule (Born 1827, Died 1890), a social reformer, businessman and educationalist from Pune, the state of Maharastra, started a school for girls. Before starting the school, he taught to his illiterate wife Savitribai, who became a teacher in the school. The couple started three schools for girls.

Later Development of Women Education In India

By the end of 19th century, many primary schools were introduced in various parts of India. Thanks to missionaries and social reformers who worked for better education of girls in India.

I would like to mention the name of Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (Born 1880, Died 1932), who's story is an inspiring one. She learned to read and write secretly with help of her brother, and later she learned various subjects from her Husband Saakhawat. She opened a school for Muslim Girls at Bhagalpur in Bihar. Her husband had died recently. The orthodox Muslims were against educating girls, so they forced Begum Rokeya to close the school and expelled her from home. In such a condition, she went to Kolakata and started a school for girls at this city. Begum Rokeya wrote many stories and articles on the problems the women were faced in that period.

-jainismus Mahavir Sanglikar

Video: Savitribai Phule

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Comments 15 comments

jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India Author

Thanks IntegrityYes


IntegrityYes 4 years ago

I definitely voted up. That is so powerful and informative. Rock on!


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India Author

Thanks tillsontitan...


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Very interesting jainismus...we here in the US still have so much to learn about India an thanks to writers like you we have a chance of learning the facts not just propaganda!

Voted up and interesting.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India Author

Thanks Sueswan for reading and commenting.


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Jainismus

It is nice that the brother and husband of Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain helped with her education .

Voted up and away.

Take care :)


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India Author

Thanks for providing the information. That means educational advance of girls is a universal thing as they are ahead of guys in many other countries too.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Thanks for this very interesting information, jainismus. Your last comment above holds true in the U.S. as well. Until the final years of high school (11th and 12th grades) girls' grades overall are usually higher than that of boys.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India Author

Today in India, girl students are ahead of boys in merit at many places.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Very interesting to read the history of schools for girls in India. Glad that it now extends beyond the wealthy. It would be interesting to read how the schools are helping girls today.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India Author

Thanks Rehana Stormme for reading the Hub and commenting on it.


Rehana Stormme profile image

Rehana Stormme 4 years ago

Very interesting and educational hub! The story of Begum Rukeya inspirational. It's because of her resiliance and persistance that her school in Kolakata was possible. I learned a lot, thanks!


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

Okay that's some what good to hear.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India Author

writer20,

Thanks for reading the Hub and commenting on it. Yes, whatever you have heard is true, but it is limited to specific class of people.


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

Coming from England, I honestly heard that baby girls were often killed, Please correct me if this isn't true.

Voted up and interesting, Joyce.

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