Uduvil Girls’ College marks bicentennial paying tribute to its rich history

Friday, 9 February 2024 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Chief Guest unveiling logo along with the student designer


By Dr. Thayalan Ambalavanar

The inaugural function of the bicentennial celebrations of Uduvil Girls’ College was conducted in their college hall on 6 February. The program was titled ‘Anthizo’ which in Greek means blossom.

It was 200 years ago that a young American missionary, Harriet Winslow, started this school that was then called the Female Central School. The first two girl students were little ones who used to peer curiously through the windows of the Mission house. Harriet started teaching them and thus was born a great institution. It is the oldest boarding school for girls in Asia. Despite the resistance of the community to educating girls, the numbers slowly but steadily increased. Harriet, who suffered many personal losses herself, died sadly at the age of 33.

In its 200 year history the school has been served by just ten Principals including the incumbent Rosanna Kulendran. This enabled most of them to leave their own indelible mark on the institution while building on its traditional strength.

Many years ago a person had commented sarcastically that the objective of the school as a finishing school was to prepare girls for marriage! No doubt there was more than an element of envy in the statement. Uduvil has always been far more than that. From being the first to break social barriers to empowering young women through academic and extra-curricular activities it has contributed immensely to the rich educational history of this island. This was highlighted by the chief guest, Shiranee Mills, herself a past student and subsequently Principal. She said long before it became recognised or fashionable the school had always stressed on compassion, empathy and friendship building capability.

The high standard that the school maintained was evident during the program. The presenters were confident and articulate, the primary schoolchildren charming and enthusiastic during their western dance as were the older students who performed a more traditional but lively dance with obvious joy. The Carnatic music and the western music choirs performed the Tamil and English bicentennial songs composed by the students with great joy and verve. The two bicentennial logos too were designed by the students. All this is testimony to the talent and capabilities of the students and reflects well on the ethos cultivated by the Principal and the staff.

At a time when many despair of the state of affairs in the world around us, the lack of honesty and sincerity at many levels, the motto of the school «The Truth shall set you free» resonates with even greater importance.

On a personal note, I must say it was a joy to be present at this function. Though memories of my time here are dim, I consider myself an alumnus of the school having studied for around two years there in the primary section while my mother was Medical Superintendent at McLeod hospital in Inuvil. I am sure the students, Principal and staff will ensure that the celebrations this year will be a wonderful tribute to the rich history of this unique institution.