First community schools in Verulam

2017-07-27 06:00
Photo: suppliedThe Verulam branch of the Natal Indian Teachers’ Society.

Photo: suppliedThe Verulam branch of the Natal Indian Teachers’ Society.

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THE settlers called up a meeting in December 27, 1852 where the idea of a day school for their children was mooted.
The Verulam Day School was housed in a building in Wick Street opened its doors in April 1853. The building has now become offices of Metro police. The school closed in 1879 when the Natal government established a new school known as the Verulam Government School, which is now called Verulam Primary in Russom Street, Brindhaven.

One of the early white settlers known as Mr Shilton used to run a night school for Indians and Africans in Verulam during the late 1860s.
The first school was established in 1869 by Wesleyan Methodist Mission.
The Indian Immigration Board was then established and took over the school in 1878.

In 1985 Murray Armstrong closed down the old school block, and the older pupils had to be transferred to the newly opened schools in Verulam. Umhloti Primary continued to function as a junior primary. The Department of Education built a new school in 1988 after the community requested to have a new school in the area. The school was opened as Canelands Primary in January 1988. A year later the school was renamed Umhloti Primary in recognition of the pioneering role it had played in the education of hundreds of Indian children for over a century.

According to the brochure published by the Verulam Retired Teachers’ Society,Verulam Pioneers in Education, prior to the 1940s classes were held for a handful of pupils at the residence of Talwantsingh in Temple Valley. The trustees of the temple made its hall available for the purpose of establishing a government aided school. This resulted in the opening of the Shree Gopal Lal Government Aided Indian School on January 25, 1943. Due to the high number of pupils coming to the school, the temple trust decided to build a new school on a land donated by Talwantsingh.
It was occupied in April, 1959. The building is now called Verulam Independent School.

There was another school called Cottonlands Government Aided Indian School. Its construction came after the ‘small group of Indian immigrants who settled in the area leased a small piece of land. The construction of the school commenced on July 1, 1945 and the building was completed the following year in April. The school opened its doors on August 1946.

The Verulam Indian School Board was formed and built three schools; Talwantsingh Government Aided Indian School [now called Verulam Independent School], Verulam Government Indian High School in 1952[Verulam Secondary School] and Madhosingh Government Aided School in 1959 [Everest Heights Primary]. The Redcliffe Primary was opened in 1986.


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