Laban Bengalee Boys’ HS School: Treading the path towards enlightenment

Episode XXVIII

From a modest beginning with a handful of students, the Laban Bengalee Boys’ Higher Secondary School has trod the path of knowledge and enlightenment for a hundred years now, overcoming every challenge and obstacle with constant dedication and commitment of the mentors and mentees.

In this episode of Shillong’s Iconic Structures, we are featuring the 100 years journey of Laban Bengalee Boys’ Higher Secondary School, one of the premier educational institutions in the state – established in 1923 by a few members of the Bengali community residing in the Laban area.

Located at the centre of a densely populated area and sandwiched between many residential buildings, the school looks like any other ordinary campus – accommodating a two-storeyed L-shaped wooden structure with a small open space in front, hidden from sight by a big yellow gate.

How did this school come into being? Let’s find out: 

In the early 20th century when Shillong was made the capital of the Assam province, many government officials from West Bengal and Sylhet (now in Bangladesh) moved to Shillong along with their families and resided in many areas, particularly in Laban.

Back then, there was a dearth of educational institutions and there were no boys’ schools in the vicinity, except for the Government Boys’ School in Mawkhar, the Jail Road Boys’ School in Jailroad and St. Edmund’s School in Dhankheti.

This was when a few concerned individuals from the Bengali community residing in the area came together to start school in 1923 on a piece of land donated by the government near the Laban Municipal market or Batti Bazaar, with Bengali being the medium of teaching.

Lodged in a small and congested house, the school had only five students and two teachers namely Dwarika Nath De Choudhury and Rukmini Ranjan Sen. The first five students were RR Chakraborty, R Das Gupta, H Choudhury, Md. Abdul Majid and K Bahadur Chettri.

The school underwent a major renovation in 1929 to make room for the ever-growing number of students.

The school was upgraded to the Middle English level in 1930 with Girija Bhattacharjee as the headmaster and in 1931; the first batch of students cleared the Middle School Leaving Certificate examination where two pupils secured the first division.

The school was raised to a High School in 1946 by Calcutta University. However, history has it that many of the students would prefer to leave the school after class VIII and join either Government Boys’ School or Jail Road Boys’ School to appear for their Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examinations.

It was not until 1958 that the first batch of three students cleared the matriculation examination from the school itself.

The school was moved to the present campus in 1972 since the old structure was too cramped to accommodate all the students, right from the lower primary to the secondary level.

Laban Bengalee Boys’ was upgraded to a higher secondary level in 1994 with the introduction of the science stream through the government of Meghalaya’s grant while the commerce stream was introduced in 2005.

The medium of teaching was changed from Bengali to English only in 1993. At present, there are 550 students in the Upper Primary, Secondary, and Higher Secondary sections with a total strength of 28 teaching staff.

(Watch the full version of the story only on our YouTube Channel @TheShillongTimes)

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