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History of Govt Mizo HSS as written by C January & translated by Mawia HL

C. Januari, a former teacher of Govt. Mizo High/Higher school, has masterfully crafted an impeccable account of the school’s history in our School Platinum Jubilee Souvenir. Written in the Mizo language, this narrative is a precious gem, a rarity amidst the scarce literature on the school’s past, with only a few write-ups by Mizo history writers and journalists. Finding reliable information on Govt. Mizo High/Higher School, particularly in the English language, is a challenging task, with Prof. JV Hluna’s Book “Education and Missionaries in Mizoram” being the only source I know that looks into the school’s inception in the English language. I believe this piece of writing about Mizo High School is worthy of translation into English. I hope that this translation will be like a beam of light shining on the forgotten pages of history, revealing the rich and captivating story of the Govt. Mizo High/Higher School and leaving a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of those who read it. 
By Mawia HL

As I delve deeper into the annals of Mizo High School, I find myself pondering the intricacies of its history. With various accounts dating the school’s inception to different years, I find myself turning to the memories of its earliest pupils and educators for answers. Despite the slight inconsistencies in the accounts of various writers, I have trusted those that seem the most credible. I humbly apologize in advance for any inaccuracies that may be uncovered in my quest to unravel the truth of Mizo High School’s early periods.

Its Beginning

In 1894, with the introduction of the alphabets “A, AW, B” to Mizoram, a new door to knowledge and learning was opened for the community, igniting a spark of curiosity and a fervent desire for education. Education began to flourish, with the establishment of the first school in the same year. The Lower Primary School was introduced in 1901, and by 1903, the first Lower Primary School exams were conducted, marking the opening of a Middle School. However, the journey to achieving high school education was a long and arduous one. Despite the tireless efforts of our pioneering educators and leaders, such as the Young Lushai Association (YLA) and the Mizo Kings, the establishment of a high school eluded us for many years. Rev. Zairema, a pioneering educator and the first Mizo to hold a B.Sc. (Hons) degree, had a long and distinguished career in teaching. After working as a high school teacher outside of Mizoram and serving as the Headmaster at Phaitual Middle School, he teamed up with Lalbuaia, a respected District council leader and Member of Parliament, to establish a private high school in Aizawl. This was due to the government’s refusal to permit the establishment of high school at the time. Despite their tireless efforts and multiple requests for permission, Major A.G. MC Call not only rejected their submissions, but also cruelly berated them for their attempts, leaving them hopeless.

Amidst the raging fury of the Second World War, a courageous and intrepid leader by the name of A.R.H MacDonald was sent to Mizoram to take over for Major A.G. McCall. Upon his arrival, he was met by Pu Lalbuaia and his associates, who urgently brought to his attention the critical need for a high school in the area. Flabbergast! Mr. MacDonald (the new Lushai Administrator) urged them “How can it be that such a place is without a high school? It is crucial that one is established as soon as possible.” His powerful words and diplomatic approach convinced the Mizo kings and officials to agree to build a high school in 1943. Meetings with community leaders were organized and held at the residence of Aizawl King Pu Hrawva on a Sunday evening, and it was decided that the high school would open its doors in the beginning of 1944.

The Christian Missionaries (Welsh Missionaries) in Aizawl were thrilled to learn that the government and the public had decided to establish high schools. Because the dream they had been chasing for so long, but never quite managed to grasp on their own, was finally within reach, they threw themselves into action with renewed vigor. They formed an exceptional school management committee. The pioneering members of this committee were:

MacDonald, the Superintendent of North Lushai Hills,
Reverend B.E. Jones, the Honorable Inspector of Schools in North Lushai Hills,
Reverend J.M. Loyd, the Headmaster,
Buchhawna, Asst. Supdt. N.Lushai Hills,
Sainginga, P.A. to Supdt.,
Vanlaldailova, Head Clerk,
Ngura, Durtlang Lal
Lalsailova, Kelsih Lal,
Lalhmingthanga (P & Sons) and
Teacher Represent.

Upon the formation of the school Management Committee, their esteemed leader, Reverend B.E. Jones, was bestowed the esteemed honor of Honorable Inspector of schools by the government. Through diligent and strategic planning, the inaugural High School in Mizoram was established on an auspicious day, the 25th of February, in the year 1944.

In the first year of the school, Rev. B.E. Jones was appointed as Headmaster Incharge and was joined by Pu Vankhuma, one of the early Mizo I.A. graduates and former employee of Synod Press, to assist in his leadership. Pu Vankhuma, a true jack-of-all-trades, took on a multifaceted role, from that of a watchman to that of a headmaster, with an unflinching dedication and an unyielding spirit. The distinguished women, Mrs. Samueli, Mrs. Jones, and Mrs. Zaii, also lent their expertise as teachers from time to time. The school was housed in a small dispensary located below the Mission Veng Church, which had been repurposed as the Y.L.A hall. 55 students were enrolled that year, and Pu Vankhuma was the only teacher who received a salary. The rest of the educators selflessly devoted their time and energy to the school, allowing it to operate without much difficulty.

Location of the school

In the beginning, the small YLA Building located below the Mission Veng Church served as the school’s classroom. As time passed, the school relocated to the old Loch Printing Press building and even utilized a former girls’ school. Any available Missionary buildings and makeshift structures were utilized as well. However, the lack of proper school buildings caused disruptions to the school’s discipline and progress. As the school continued to expand, with the introduction of a new higher class annually, the issue of limited space proved to be a significant challenge for both the teachers and the school management.

The search for the perfect location to establish the high school lasted for a grueling three years. Despite their determined efforts, the school management committee found themselves unable to uncover a perfect spot that sat at the heart of the city, even after exploring every corner of it. MacDonald Hill, a notable area (also known as Thingpui Huan Tlang) in Aizawl, was utilized by the Assam Rifle as a tea garden at that time. Civilian access to the area was restricted, as the entry gate located at Zarkawt kawn was kept under guard. In the midst of the raging World War II, a significant change in leadership occurred in the Indian state of Mizoram. A.G. MacCall, the Bawrhsap at the time, was succeeded by A.R.H. MacDonald. A.R.H. MacDonald was known for his fearless leadership and high regard among the people. He treated all individuals, regardless of their socio-economic status, with fairness and impartiality. He strongly opposed the forced conscription of Mizo individuals as coolies by the British army. He was often observed staying in the houses of the poor and widows during his visits to various villages, rather than staying in the houses of the wealthy. This behavior was a reflection of his belief in treating all individuals with fairness and respect, regardless of their socio-economic status. Thus, he won the hearts and admiration of not only the Mizo kings, but also of the governing authorities and even the powerful British Army.

The Thingpui Huan Tlang, an undiscovered gem that had never entered their thoughts as a potential school location, a place that the Assam Rifle held dear, was gifted to the community as the new home of Mizo High School by the benevolent Mr. MacDonald. He also galvanized the V-Force Mizo Army, who were coming home, to donate and rallied government employees in every village to contribute a month’s salary to the construction of the school building. Truly, the school’s location is a testament to the dedication of MacDonald’s boundless spirit. In recognition of his contributions, the local community, under the leadership of Pu P.S. Dahrawk, proposed that the school’s location be officially renamed as “MacDonald Hill.” This proposal was accepted and the new name has since become the permanent and official designation for the area. Mr. MacDonald’s impact on the Mizo community, particularly in regards to the Government Mizo High School, is truly monumental and worthy of the utmost admiration. The youth of today cannot express enough gratitude for his contributions. It is our hope that future generations come to fully understand and appreciate the invaluable legacy he has left behind.

The school is located in a prime area of the city, yet it benefits from its hilltop location, providing a sense of seclusion from the typical urban hustle and bustle. This unique feature of the location makes it an ideal choice for an educational institution. It also situated between the borders of the Chanmari and Zarkawt neighborhoods, and it is considered as a shared asset by both the local communities. Even today, its own name, distinct from the neighboring communities around “MacDonald Hill,” makes it more convenient for the school and holds profound significance.

As the location was covered with tea plantation, it was dubbed as ‘Thingpui Huan tlang” meaning hilltop tea plantation. It is a peaceful location that is devoid of any private, public, or religious land, making it an ideal location for an educational institution. The spacious site, surrounded by nature, is a refreshing change from the cramped and congested educational institutions and places in the city. The cool and invigorating air that wafts through the area, even during the summer months, is a thrill to breathe in. It’s a place where one can truly immerse themselves in their studies and be at peace with nature. A true oasis in the concrete jungle.

School’s Name

The fervor for high school education in Mizoram was palpable before one existed. Suggestions for a school name were even tossed around, like the North Lushai Hills High School. But when the Mizo High School finally came to fruition in 1944, the decision was made to keep it inclusive by naming it simply “Mizo High School.” As the institution progressed through the years, it underwent various name changes, mirroring its progress and development. When the government assumed management in 1950, the school was rebranded as the Govt. Mizo High School.

In 1959, when Mizoram was under the jurisdiction of Assam, the Assam government selected a few decent high schools to offer class-11 education. One of these esteemed institutions was Mizo High School. The curriculum was designed to include a diverse range of subjects such as Humanities, Home Science, Commerce, and Science. The school eventually changed its name to Govt. Higher Secondary & Multipurpose School, Aizawl to reflect its expanded class 11. However, this policy came to an end in 1972. Fast forward to 1996, the government of Mizoram introduced class 12 program and the school was renamed to Govt. Higher Secondary School. And when the government separated the administration of Secondary and Higher Secondary in 1996, the secondary section was named Govt. Mizo High School and the higher secondary as Govt. Mizo Higher Secondary School.

Rev. Dr. Zairema and Pu KC Lalvunga, in their insightful articles, presented a compelling case for the naming of Mizo High School. They explained that the name was chosen through the voices of Mizo Student Associations and Mizo Lal. They argued that the inclusion of “Government” or “Govt.” in the name was not only unnecessary, but also went against the spirit of preserving and promoting Mizo identity. Their passionate dedication to this cause is truly inspiring. In a strange turn of events, the school now known as ‘Government’ has gained unexpected popularity. Ask any student “Where do you attend school?” or ” Which school will you attend?”, and they’ll likely answer with “Government”, meaning Mizo High School, even though there are now many other schools bearing the name ‘Government’. It would be more fitting if, instead of simply saying “Government”, the school were referred to as “Mizo High School” or “Mizo Higher Secondary School” – a nod to its roots and an acknowledgement of its true identity.

School Building

Construction on the school building in the present-day location of Zarkawt Church began in 1947. As levelling the land was not a daunting task, the village people around Aizawl came to do the excavation work as community labor. Funds were gathered through donations from the V-Force Mizo army and collected by Mr. Macdonald, as well as through the generous contribution of one month’s salary from all government employees. These funds were put to good use in constructing a U-shaped Assam-type building for a school. As the years passed and more modern structures were erected, the building was repurposed to serve as a hostel for students from nearby villages. The hostel was subsequently renamed as “Down Hostel”. The residence of the Headmaster was also built with the hard-earned funds of the devoted Missionaries at the present day location of the Chief Minister Bungalow.

Over time, student enrollment at the school has grown significantly, with the number of students surpassing thousands. Along with this increase in enrollment, a corresponding expansion in the school’s physical infrastructure has occurred, with the construction of new buildings. Assisting parents and visitors from outside the city of Aizawl in navigating the school’s buildings and offices has become a key responsibility of the school’s staff.

Its Present Status and Final Reflections

Due to the government’s introduction of separate management for Secondary and Higher Secondary schools, and class 8 being integrated into the middle school education system, Classes 9 and 10 are now the only grades available in Mizo High School. Class 9 is made up of 8 sections, while Class 10 is made up of 5 sections. The school has an enrollment of 750 students in 2019, and is staffed by 33 teachers including assistant teachers, and 6 office staff members.

In 1996, the government of India introduced the 10+2+3 education pattern, which involved the addition of +2 classes in the Mizo High School. It was renamed as Govt. Higher Secondary School, Aizawl bearing its old name. In the year 2004, the institution underwent a nother change of name again, and was officially recognized as “Govt. Mizo Higher Secondary School”. The school, since its founding, has been blessed with a plethora of enrolled students, a testament to the hand of fate. Currently, students in the school have the option to pursue studies in Arts, Science, and Commerce streams. Prior to this, a vocational stream known as Computer Techniques was also available. This stream has since been phased out and replaced with new choices, including Arts with Mathematics and Computer Science, as well as Information Technology. Now the higher secondary section of the school annually enrolls approximately 1000 students, with the Arts stream having the highest enrollment. The school is staffed by a team of educators, which includes 70 lecturers, 5 lab assistants and bearers, 2 Samagra teachers and 7 office staff, who work to provide guidance and support for the students.

The arrival of Welsh Missionaries (Zosap) and the spread of the Gospel led to the establishment of primary and middle schools in Mizoram. However, the journey towards establishing high schools was a challenging one. Many believed that the Zosap Missionaries were against Mizo people pursuing higher education. But upon revisiting the writings and statements of the pioneering students and educators of this school, it becomes clear that this perception is not entirely accurate.

The unwavering devotion of the Missionaries towards Mizo High School is truly commendable. The first Headmaster, Rev. J.M. Lloyd, toiled tirelessly for five years without receiving a single penny in salary. Similarly, the other Missionaries who played a crucial role in the school’s early stages also worked selflessly, without any remuneration, to ensure that the Mizo people received a proper education. From the construction of the school’s building to its operations and continuation of education, these devoted individuals made invaluable contributions for the Mizo people. The Mizoram’s lack of early access to high school education can be attributed to the implementation of the Macaulay filtration policy (The policy wanted to educate only a few people that belonged to the upper caste in Indian Society, so that they only get useful people to work for them and then those people can influence the lower strata people) by the British Government. This policy, implemented during the British colonial period, filtered education downwards and effectively prevented the Mizos from obtaining a high school education in a timely manner.

The implementation of the Macaulay filtration policy by the British Government favored the education of upper-class Indian children. This included the establishment of hostels, where these children were provided with free education. In contrast, the Zosap Missionary did not discriminate based on social or economic background. They provided education to gifted, underprivileged students using their own funds, ensuring that all deserving children had access to learning regardless of their circumstances. The British Administrator commonly referred to as the “Bawrhsap” in Mizoram, delegated key responsibilities in the realm of education to Christian missionaries. These responsibilities included conducting examinations, inspections, and developing syllabuses. However, the scope of authority given to the missionaries was limited to primary and middle school education, with higher educational institutions such as high schools falling under the jurisdiction of the Assam Chief Commissioner. Due to this limitation, the missionaries were unable to establish high schools in Mizoram. In one occasion, the Zosap missionaries funded scholarships to 15 students who had completed their middle school education. This initiative aimed to provide these students with an opportunity to continue their education and pursue their aspirations. However, these efforts were met with resistance from the Assam Chief Commissioner, who prohibited the missionaries from awarding scholarships to Mizo students.

With boundless joy and gratitude, I extend my gratitude to the Lord and the government for the privilege of serving at Mizoram’s esteemed first High School. This revered institution, steeped in a wealth of academic greatness, has nurtured countless brilliant students and continues to enlighten the citizens of Mizoram. Our duties are immense, and I urge all of us to embrace the spirit of missionary zeal as we strive to fulfill our roles as devoted educators. Together, with our united knowledge, wisdom, abilities, might, and influence, let us endeavor to elevate this school and Mizoram to even more prominent heights of achievement.

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