Since 1927, St Patrick’s has been serving Pindi’s children

Updated April 21, 2019

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Children play in the main playground. The ground is also used to host annual events as St Patrick’s High School lacks a main hall.
Children play in the main playground. The ground is also used to host annual events as St Patrick’s High School lacks a main hall.

St Patrick’s High School on Murree Road opened its doors in 1927 with just three students as part of the Holy Family Hospital (HFH).

It was opened by nuns from an American mission, which also established the hospital. The school was attached to a local church, and aimed to cater to middle class students in the area.

The institution, initially a primary school, gradually rose to the high school level. Unlike other missionary schools in the city, which taught in English, St Patrick’s was an Urdu medium institution.

In 1944, HFH moved to a new building in Satellite Town. The old hospital building was given to the St Mary school, while St Patrick’s remained where it was. There were three missionary schools in the area at the time – St Patrick’s, St Teresa and St Mary. Some 10 years later, St Patricks moved to its present building on Murree Road, on the same premises.

The school was nationalised in the 70s and run by the Punjab education department until 2000. The school then came under the management of the Lahore Diocesan Board of Education and linked with the Manchester Diocesan Board of Education, which is also affiliated with the Rawalpindi Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education.

An outside view of the school on Murree Road.
An outside view of the school on Murree Road.

As a primary school St Patrick’s consisted of a small building with a few classrooms. A new building was constructed in the 80s and 90s when it was upgraded to a high school, to meet the new requirements.

The main school building is in the typical Anglo-Indian style. In the old days, all three schools – St Patrick’s, St Teresa and St Mary – were connected by church corridors. The building was constructed using donations from members of society and diverse religious groups, including Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.

A playgroup classroom in the old building.
A playgroup classroom in the old building.

“The famous actor Rahat Kazmi, bureaucrats, academics and army and police officers studied at this school,” Prof J.B. Gill, a former principal, told Dawn.

He said the school’s old records have gone missing, but people who received their primary level education there have visited and told the administration of its past.

The original building was constructed in the Anglo-Indian style and has been preserved in its original form.
The original building was constructed in the Anglo-Indian style and has been preserved in its original form.

Mr Gill said the school was de-nationalised in 2000, after which he became its first principal.

“I had worked as a principal for 13 years, but I had to work hard to restore the school’s identity,” he recalled.

“We are struggling to impart academic and moral education to students. Most of the children are from low income groups, and we have to work hard,” the current principal, Adnan Asif, said.

A Catholic Church library used by school students. — Photos by Mohammad Asim
A Catholic Church library used by school students. — Photos by Mohammad Asim

“This educational institution offers the opportunity to groom children and provide them with a better learning environment. The school’s quality of education is improving since it came out of government control, but the number of students has fallen because of fees,” he added.

He said the school’s teachers have been trained over the last 19 years to teach students coming from various environments, and the administration provides children with opportunities to participate in sports and other activities.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019