The year is 1984 and I am waiting for my younger brother at 3.30pm outside the arched entrance of the Habib Educational Centre. Standing outside the school, one not only bosomed a desire to see what it was like inside a
boys' school but also a surge of curiosity as to what was held inside the gates of the school.
When the school bell finally rang at 4pm and students of all ages ran out of the classrooms and across the sprawling grounds toward the gates, one couldn't help but notice the boys with crew-cuts that left barely a half inch of hair on the scalp, and burnt complexions from the scorching sun.
They would look drained from a full day at school where besides education they would also be put through rigorous training in sports, debates and a multitude of cultural activities. Much was encapsulated in their daily routine which started at 8 in the morning and lasted till 4 in the afternoon. The schedule seemed tiring but the students found, when they eventually stepped into practical life, that the grooming they received was worth it. Today, Habibians are found making their mark in every field and this is the most telling factor in the performance and appraisal of a school.
The coffee-table book Celebrating 50 Years Habib Public School documents the perseverance and determination that went into the building of the school. The articles included in it are written by and about the luminaries who were behind this success story that was set into motion on March 30, 1959. The book also includes some endearing pictorial memories of the alma mater that has produced many high achievers.
One of the book's editors, Anwar Abbas, humourously describes founder member Muslim Habib's father to be 'in the habit of setting up educational institutions and he (the son) was sent to them.' The idea behind the gesture was to endorse the school's performance and to encourage belief in its future.
Of course, the owners could have afforded to send their own children to other, more expensive schools in the city, but they chose to show that they shared the confidence of the other students seeking admissions or already studying in the school. Also at play was perhaps the spirit to reduce the class difference that exists in our educational system.
The book is filled with exquisite photography using wide angles to bring out the majesty of the school. The various black and white, colour and sepia-tone pictures should bring back fond memories for alumni and make current students proud of their school.
At the tail end of the book are some very interesting signatures and comments derived from the school's guestbook. The pages brim with useful information about the school, as well as highlights about former students who have done themselves, their alma mater and their country proud.
Celebrating 50 years of educational excellence at Habib Public School, the book seems to make the statement that man is the embodiment of what he is taught.
Celebrating 50 Years Habib Public School
180pp. Price not listed