Gordon College Rawalpindi: A victim of flawed policies | By Brig Muhammad Asif (R)

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Gordon College Rawalpindi: A victim of flawed policies

CHRISTIAN Mission High School, Fawara Chowk Rawalpindi, is one of the oldest educational institutions, established by the British Colonialists in the pre-partition India in the beginning of the second quarter of the 19th century.

The school has functioned uninterrupted since its inception almost two hundred years ago. It has the honour of having had famous figures of the subcontinent, like Master Tara Singh, Balraj Sahni, Anand Bakhshi, etc., on its roll.

Gordon College Rawalpindi, another historical educational institution, established by the British, started functioning in Christian School in 1956, with a total number of 14 students.

Initially six subjects were offered at intermediate level, which included: History, Philosophy, Mathematics, English, Persian and Sanskrit.

In 1893, the college was shifted to its present location on Liaquat Road to function as an independent Intermediate College named after the Head of Presbyterian Mission, Dr Andrew Gordon as Gordon College.

Records show that the first graduate from the college was Ishar Das in 1904. First Muslim graduate was the late Justice Din Muhammad, former Governor of Sindh.

The college enrolment reached one hundred students in 1910. BSc classes were started in 1927 and the first science graduate was Barkat Ali, who stood first in the province.

The post-graduate classes in the subject of English Literature, Urdu Literature and History were started in 1940, 1948 and 1955, respectively.

One teacher, later Principal, who best represents that history of Gordon College is; Dr Ralph Randle Stewart, who joined the College in 1911 to teach elementary Botany and Zoology to pre-medical students.

He served as the Principal of the College from 1934 to 1954. After its nationalization in 1972, Gordon College Rawalpindi has been functioning as a government college under the administrative control of Ministry of Education, Government of the Punjab.

After its nationalization, Gordon College rapidly started declining with regard to its academic standards, administration and discipline.

Before its nationalization, the college ranked among the premier postgraduate colleges in the country.

Countless number of college students rose to higher positions as bureaucrats, lawyers, judges, politicians and armed forces officers.

Some of the notable alumni of the college include; Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javaid Bajwa, former judge of the Supreme Court Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday, former Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, President of Azad Kashmir Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudry, former President of Azad Kashmir Saddar Masud Khan, former Governor of the Punjab General Raja Saroop Khan, and many other prominent artists and journalists like Nayyar Kamal, Rahat Kazmi, Azhar Lodhi, Farooq Azam and Gul G.

The names of two renowned Indian actors, Shayam Kumar and Balraj Sahini, are also included among the list of Gordonians.

Former Attorney General of Pakistan, Maulvi Anwarul Haq, while talking to a newspaper correspondent, sometime back, said that he could never forget Gordon College due to which he succeeded to excel throughout his career.

“Let me recall my memory,” he said, “Justice Ramday was best debater while late General Jamshed Kiani was a student leader of the college.

Rahat Kazmi entertained the students through his artistic skills. ” Besides my colleagues, the pleasant memories of my teachers like Prof C A Peter, Dr AQ Daskawi and Khawaja Masud are still fresh in my mind.

Gordon College was only college of the Rawalpindi Division that had a co-education, but general decline in the education sector marred its charm.

Not only me but my father has also studied in this college, I assured him that I would contribute for the uplift of the college”.

A get together of the old alumni of Gordon College was held on 3 June 2022 under the auspices of “Gordonians Own”, a social media group, created by this writer, SI (M), an alumnus of the college.

Gordonians Own is an apolitical group, created with the sole objective of enabling the alumni and the members of the faculty to reconnect, and share their memories and experiences as students or teachers with one another on social media.

Prof Joseph Bruce Gill, who served as a member of the faculty of Gordon College for 31 years from 1966 to 1997 graced the get together as the Guest of Honour.

While welcoming the guests, I thanked Prof Gill for sparing time to grace the event with his presence.

He also shared with the audience that during his visit to the college after half a century along with Prof Waheed Mirza a couple of weeks ago, how pained and distressed he felt after witnessing the pathetic state of his alma mater that was once rated among the most prestigious and reputed educational institutions in the entire subcontinent due to its academic standards, culture, ethos and values which contributed to the wholesome grooming of the students as polished, disciplined, responsible and productive members of the society.

He urged the college alumni and the teachers present on this occasion that using Gordonians Own as a forum, they must make sincere efforts to restore the lost glory and reputation of their alma mater.

In his address to the audience, Prof Joseph Bruce Gill, besides recounting his memories and experiences during his marathon stint as a member of the faculty of Gordon College, shared with them the factors that he considered Gordon College “a class apart” from the rest.

He mentioned that in addition to the quality of students’ intake, highly efficient and dedicated faculty and professional administration, it was well designed scheme of studies as well as a plethora of co-curricular and sports activities that helped the college produce highly competent professionals in every field ranging from media to sports, showbiz, politics, etc, besides serving as a feeder to the civil services and armed forces academies.

A number of other old students, including Prof Waheed Mirza, Major Arshad Butt (R), Ghulam Ahmed Qureshi, Shahid Masud, Major Qaisar Farooqi (R), Tanveer Iqbal Pasha, etc.

, who addressed the audience resolved to play their role to restore the lost prestige of their alma mater.

—The writer is contributing columnist based in Islamabad.

 

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