Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Naidoo Memorial Primary School, The oldest Indian school in South Africa

“Artists, writers and musicians alone cannot keep a culture alive. They must be backed by the enthusiasm of a multitude of parents and teachers – people who treasure their heritage and will devote their energies to keeping its flame aglow. To them, more than the artists, must fall the responsibility to 'pass it on'.” THE accumulated knowledge of a society is learned by successive generations through that part of the process which we call education. This cultural transmission is necessary so that people can fit into the existing pattern of life. The wisdom and leadership of Mr R C Naidoo feature large in the early history of Umkomaas KwaZulu-Natal

The Naidoo Memorial Primary School was opened on January 28, 1936 after many years of planning, fund-raising and organisation. Naidoo was a brilliant lawyer who commanded respect. He was noble enough to realise that the best service he could render to those with limited opportunities was to create facilities for their children’s education.

To this end he purchased land and with the assistance of Umkomaas residents, built the Umkomaas Government Aided Indian School. He contributed to the greater part of the building costs, beside donating two acres of land for the primary school and three for a proposed Agricultural School.

Sadly, Mr Naidoo did not live long enough to witness the growth and maturity of the school he had founded. He passed away in 1937. In 1943, Mrs Naidoo donated the land and school buildings to the then Natal Provincial Administration (NPA) making it possible for the school to attain 'government' status by 1945. In memory of its founder, the name of the school was changed to Naidoo Memorial Government Indian School.

Since its early days Naidoo Memorial has quietly, almost unobtrusively, helped in improving the lot of the Indian community in and around Umkomaas. This school, along with the Umkomaas Drift School, as well as their teachers – past and present – played and continue to play a valuable role in moulding their pupils for the outside world.
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