Days of experiment: Professor Sushil Sharma

What was most noteworthy and significant about the foundation of the school was that the school marked the beginning of Modern Assamese School post-independence in the state. The name of the school was Ideal Nursery, and the man who designed the school was Professor Sushil Sharma.

Even though there were many schools, mostly government schools, in the state at that time but the educational pattern of those schools were mostly outdated and old fashioned and not even up to the standards of schools which existed around the same time in the rest of the country. Remembers Sushil Sharma today,
‘What by and large was on my mind before starting the school was to establish a school with the most modern educational curriculum, with broadminded teachers and which would be in Assamese language. I wanted a school, which besides being consistent with national ideology and culture, endeavor to grow awareness among the students in particular and the people in general a flavor for the Assamese language in a scientific way.’

What was only a thought for Professor Sharma and his wife, who has also collaborated with him in his task and gone through all the ups and downs in life, has become a reality today with the school being recognized as one of the most modern Assamese schools in the state today. Ideal Nursery has already entered in its 25th year and on the forthcoming March 1, it would celebrate the Silver Jubilee year. Significantly, in a major accident to Sharma and his family in 1970 while traveling in an auto rickshaw near the Bharalu River, Sharma was left without any hope for future. His wife lost one of her legs in the catastrophe and it was a moment of ordeal for them to earn their livelihood. Ideal Nursery, thus also in a way, a livelihood to them though money was never a matter of importance.
‘We struggled for more then seven years since the accident to start a school by ourselves. Besides financial constraint, which was one of the most important problems, there were several other factors, which limited us in our endeavor such as the location, economic hardship, social taboo, etc. But then in 1978, we finally were able to start the school in a very humble way and when all the nine students of our first batch secured record scholarship, we realized that we are going in the right direction.’ Recalls Sharma fondly.

What was another significant aspect about Ideal Nursery was that even though the school was an Assamese medium one, the syllabus included modern English language paper in every standards. Thus, emphasizing equal importance to the growing popularity and the need of the English language in the modern world, especially the inevitability of the language in communication. Of late, the school has even inducted Advance English and Sanskrit language as compulsory subjects from class five to pour well with the changing society and not to forget, the importance of aesthetic sense in students from their tender age. Another remarkable feature of the school is that when in an age of commercialization of education and immense competition between private schools prevailing at large today, Sharma has never closed door to any students on account of not being able to pay fees. Starting at rupees 10, the school still takes only rupees 70/80 as fees from students and sometimes not even that. What Ideal School still stands for is regular well-attended classes, maintenance of strict discipline and regulation, proper decorum among all students and homely atmosphere among all students and teaching staff members.

When asked Sharma about the growing trend of many private schools today, he replied going back many decades back,
‘There was a time during the 50s and early 60s when the Government Assamese schools were very well run though the infrastructure were not very sound. But teachers and headmasters were very popular and respected by all. Later, due to several factors starting with poor educational pattern, lack of proper facilities, absent of model teachers, government’s attitude towards education, etc the government schools started to deteriorate. People lost faith in them and at that period, private schools started to grow and in time became more popular. The private schools started to obtain good results then government schools, and till this day, government schools could never recover their lost glory.’
Reflecting back to the early years and the starting of Ideal Nursery, former Head of the Assamese Department of Pragjyotish College, Sushil Sharma sums up himself sensibly,
‘You can say that I did an experiment 25 years ago in a backward area. And after being involved with the school 24 hours each day by myself, and my whole family, I can proudly say that I think I have succeeded to an extent. And I wish to continue with that.’

-- by Prodyut Kumar Deka