Did you know who was the first Indian female graduate?
Girls often surpass boys in school examinations. They also excel in the field of sports and performing arts. But, here we tell you about a period in the history of pre-Independent India when girls were not even allowed inside schools and colleges.
Parents in India did not accept the idea of sending their female children to schools. In 1848, when a girls’ school was founded in Mumbai, at the instance of veteran leader Dadabhai Navroji, parents agreed to send their girls only on one condition. The condition was that not a single English word would be taught to them. Parents felt that Western education will spoil their girls. The school had no other go but to agree to the condition. However, the authorities in the school introduced the English subject very secretly. When this fact came to be known to a Gujarati newspaper called `Chabuk’, the paper warned that “English-knowing girls will make their husbands live in hell.” Of course, the warning did not stop all girls from going to school. The clock of progress could not be reversed. However, it is surprising to know that girls’ education was limited to the sixth standard initially. College and university education was out of question.
The Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were founded in 1857. Yet, for the first 18 years, no girl student was enrolled. It was only in 1875, that one Parsi gentleman Sorabjee Kharsetjee inquired if his daughter could appear for the matriculation examination conducted by the University of Bombay. His request was not accepted. As luck would have it, a girl named Chandramukhi Basu applied for the matriculation exam in the same year at University of Calcutta. She was also denied permission.
It was in 1877 that Calcutta University first opened the doors for girl students, and Bombay University followed suit in 1883. Thus the gates of higher education were thrown open for women. In 1883, Chandramukhi Basu and Kadambini Basu of Calcutta University became the first women graduates in India. And Cornelia Sorabjee was the first woman graduate from University of Bombay. While these facts surprise us now, they speak of the past times and conventions.
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