At the AGEI Time’s winged chariot has sped over one hundred and fifty eight years, we look back with pride and a sense of achievement on the events of our past and now open our doors to a new changing world.
In a time when it was believed that female horizons should not reach beyond home and family, a man far ahead of his times, courageous and upright, appointed Sherrif of Bombay twice, in 1856 & 1863, having the distinction of being the first Indian to be appointed as Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and member of the Masonic Lodge – felt that only the education of the girl child would bring about the required change in society.
This Zoroastrian man with a reputation for integrity, was Manockjee Cursetjee. He offered a part of his own residence, Villa Byculla and started an English Medium School with 13 Indian pupils.
The school was named not after himself or any of his family members. He named the school after Princess Alexandra, then Princess of Wales who was renowned for her radiant beauty, humaneness and nobility. He felt she would be an ideal for the girls to look up to.
Thus began The Alexandra Native Girls’ English Institution on 1st September 1863. Though a staunch Zoroastrian, Manockjee threw open the portals of his school, despite opposition, to girls of all castes and communities. He remained its President till his death in 1887.
Later, the school was shifted to Waudby Road, as it was called in those days. The school was then housed in the most impressive gothic building constructed by Khan Bahadur Muncherjee Cowasjee Murzban and became a landmark for all in the Fort area. The word ‘Native’ was later dropped from the name of the School and it was called, ‘The Alexandra Girls’ English Institution’.
Due to increasing numbers and lack of space as well as weakening of the old structure, a new building was erected but a part of the heritage structure – the beautiful arches were left untouched and stand tall even today alongside the new structure as a reminisce of the past !