Oldest Educational Institutes of India


After the great famine of 1866, the people of Odisha and some liberal Britons wanted to start a college at Cuttack. Thomas Edward Ravenshaw, officiating commissioner of Odisha Division made the government of Bengal realise the difficulties of Odia students in getting college educations and succeeded in obtaining permission to start collegiate classes in the Cuttack Zilla School. Thus the first college in Odisha was born in January 1868 with intermediate classes and six students. Commissioner Ravenshaw proposed to convert the Collegiate School into a full-fledged degree college. The government of Bengal accepted the demand with the condition that a public contribution of Rs.30,000/- be deposited for the proposed college. Ravenshaw took up the matter as an object of personal interest and guaranteed the collection of the required amount. H. Woodrew, DPI of Bengal supported Ravenshaw. H. J. Reynolds, secretary to the government of Bengal requested the government of India to sanction the incidental charges and the post of the principal on the additional condition of meeting half the monthly expenses by public donation. Due to Ravenshaw's efforts and the financial support of Maharaja of Mayurbhanj, Shri Krushna Chandra Bhanjdeo, the college department of the Collegiate School was converted in 1876 to a full-fledged Government Degree College bearing the name Cuttack College affiliated to the University of Calcutta.

Samuel Ager was appointed as the first principal. The college had only 19 students. Sri Krushna Chandra Bhanjdeo donated Rs. 20,000/- as a permanent endowment which almost fulfilled the condition imposed by the government for public contribution. On his insistence the name was changed to Ravenshaw College in 1878 after Thomas Edward Ravenshaw to commemorate his services to the cause of education in Odisha. The college was granted permanent status by 1881. Growth in the initial days was slow. Altogether 94 graduates were produced by the closing year of the 19th century and the student strength had increased to 97. Science stream remained confined only to intermediate level until 1912 when Bihar and Odisha were separated from Bengal. It is the college where many of our freedom fighters have completed their graduation.


The college entered a new phase of development after 1912. School and survey classes were removed. Teachers of Indian Education Service were appointed as professors. New subjects such as Political Economy, Political Philosophy and honours in History and Persian were introduced. Infrastructure facilities for teaching of science at B.Sc. level were augmented. The student strength rose to 280 in 1912 and 375 in 1915. A new site (the present site) for the college at Chakkar Padia was located by the government to construct a complete set of new buildings at an approximate cost of Rs.10,00,000/-. In 1916 the University Bill proposed the transfer of Ravenshaw College from Calcutta University to Patna University. Although there was some public resistance for the change of affiliation, the then commissioner rightly supported the transfer by writing "Divorced from the Calcutta University, its progress would be rapid and in course of time it should be able to supply every educational need of the people of Odisha." Accordingly, the affiliation was transferred to newly created Patna University on 1 October 1917. The college was shifted to its present site in the erstwhile Chakkar Padia in 1921. While laying the foundation stone of the present building in November 1919 Sir Edward Gait, the governor of Bihar and Odisha wished that this mighty monument would one day grow into a university. The Maharaja of Mayurbhanj donated Rs. 1,00,000/- for the electrification of the new building and purchase of equipment for science laboratories. A library building with an area of 9,000 sq ft (840 m2) was opened in 1922 by Lt. Governor of Bihar and Odisha.

Maharaja of Kanika Sri Rajendra Narayan Bhanjadeo generously donated Rs. 55,000/- for its construction which stands today as a beautiful piece of architecture. In his honour the library is named Kanika Library and is very close to the hearts of educated Odias. In recognition of the public generosity, the government sanctioned Rs. 25,000/- towards purchase of books for the new Kanika Library. After the shifting of the main library to the centenary building, the old premises houses the journal section. Legislators from Odisha such as Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das and Sri Krishna Mohapatra demanded time and again for further growth of the college in Bihar Odisha Legislative Council and Viceroy’s Council. In the words of Krishna Mohapatra "Orissa had a pet child and that child was the Ravenshaw College." In response to public pressure, Mathematics honours got recognition by 1920. A year later affiliation was granted to B.Sc. in Botany and the college became a postgraduate institution with M.A. classes in English started in 1922 through the munificence of Maharani Smt. Parvati Devi, the queen of Sonepur, in granting Rs. 1,71,500/- for its opening. The staff position of Ravenshaw College was strengthened with the appointment, in 1918, of scholars such as Sir Jaudunath Sarkar and R. P. Khosla as professors of History and Economics respectively. By 1922 the sanctioned strength of teaching staff had reached 31, out of which 13 came from Indian Education Service, two were Europeans and the rest were from provincial Education Service. Honours classes in Physics, Chemistry and Botany were opened from July 1930 and steps were initiated to start postgraduate teaching in all subjects which was fulfilled after Odisha became a separate province. Co-education began in 1929-30 with four girl students taking admission in the college. Their number gradually rose over the years.

Medical facilities opened in the college with the appointment of a sub-assistant surgeon and medical examination became compulsory for all students from October 1929. The college remained affiliated to Patna University even after the separation of Odisha from Bihar in 1936. The affiliation was transferred to the newly-created Utkal University in 1943. In fact, it was Ravenshaw College that gave birth to the new university, nursed and sustained it. If walls could speak, the present zoology department building could say how the university started functioning on its premises more than half a century ago. The law department of Ravenshaw College was separated and gave birth to the Madhusudan Law College. (Collected facts)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please can you let me know if you have any inputs, comments, and concern? I look forward to hearing from you.

Instagram Live