Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

J N Tata Parsee Girls High School

In 1887 the Empress Mills started a Gujarati school for children of its employees with two Mehtajis and one master, N Madan. It was a primary school. Boys went for further studies to SFS School and a few girls to the St Joseph’s Convent where, during those days, only 16% non-Christian students were allowed. Therefore, a private school for girls up to Std VI was started in 1901 by an enterprising and competent Parsee lady, Tehmina Karani.

The school could accommodate only 40 girls and boys. To meet the shortage of seats, Karani along with Sir Bezonji Mehta, Goolbai Cama, Peshotan Kotwal, DK Kamdin, Bezonji Pestonjee and Jamshedji Billimoria starting the Parsee Girls’ High School. Karani amalgamated her private girls’ school with the Empress Mills Gujarati School. Soon, Parsee philanthropists and others came forward with donations. With the help of Sir Dorabji Tata, who offered an impressive sum with the request to name the institution after his father Sir Jamshetji Tata, the JN Tata Parsee Girls’ High School was born in 1920.

Then, slowly arose a magnificent building on the two plots of land opposite the Jumma Talao – one donated by the Empress Mills and the other by Seth Jamnadas Potdar. The new building was declared open on November 1, 1926 by Lady Butler, the then governor of CP & Berar. The school was given recognition in 1927. With the swelling numbers, the school building also needed to be expanded. In 1930 a large auditorium was constructed on the top of the front wing, to accommodate 500 people. It was later tiered and carpeted with felt. In 1955, wings were added on top of both, east and west ground floors to house a spacious and well-equipped laboratory on one side and classrooms on the other. In 1959 the west wing was enclosed to form classrooms for the senior school.

The school building is a Grade II structure in the list of heritage building and conservation areas published by the state government. It is a colonial style building constructed around a courtyard and has exposed brick masonry painted red with sandstone columns. The school has laboratories and a clean domestic science department, terraces for games and PT, a well-stocked library and reading room, a recreation room for students and a comfortable staff room for teachers. There is a neat little garden in front with a Grecian statue to enhance the beauty of the surroundings. In 1965, the school was given a grant by the zilla parishad and thus became a government-aided school. The school has produced many outstanding students like Swati Dandekar, Dr Jamshed Irani, Sonal Mansingh, Dina Dalal among many others.

Its current use

The school has 55 teachers and 20 non-teaching employees. About 2,200 students from kindergarten to Std 10th are studying in the school. Rani Trivedi is the 9th principal of this school. To meet the increasing number of students, the trust built a new building where earlier there were school staff quarters. The new building houses class 5th, 6th and 7th students. The schools also has a computer lab, canteen and playground for students. The school has a separate physics, chemistry and biology laboratory. Every year the school adopts two poor children and given them free of cost education from kindergarten to Std X.