Shikarpur’s pre-partition New Era High School

Once a bustling centre of trade and commerce, Shikarpur was also known for its educational institutions

Shikarpur’s  pre-partition New Era High School


hikarpur, once a bustling centre of trade and commerce, was also renowned for its educational institutions. Many schools were established during the British Raj, primarily through the philanthropic donations of city elites. These individuals, the torchbearers of Sindhi society, invested their wealth in establishing good schools.

Some of these philanthropists invested all their wealth in building schools and hospitals. Among them, Menghraj Mansharamani stood out as a pioneer of modern education in Shikarpur. In 1932, he laid the foundation for the New Era School, now known as the Government Boys Nationalised Qazi Habibullah Higher Secondary School.

This institution, located on Circular Road opposite the PTCL Building in Shikarpur, is a testament to the significant roles played by Menghraj Mansharamani and the Qazi family in developing the city’s modern education institutions.

The New Era High School was initially established as a Middle school in 1932. Menghraj Mansharamani was its first headmaster. His residence was located opposite the school. His daughter also worked there as a teacher. Despite being the founder, Mansharamani never claimed sole ownership.

Instead, he formed a team of well-reputed individuals in Shikarpur to ensure its smooth management. According to Dr Anwer Figar Hakro, writing in Sijj Jehra Pireen (Part-1), Mansharamani established the New Era High School Education Society to oversee the school’s operations.

The Board of Governors of the New Era High School included several distinguished individuals. The managing committee included Agha Gul Hasan Khan (JP president), Maulvi Haji Muhammad Abdul Karim Chishti (first vice president), KS Agha Hussamuddin Khan (second vice president), Qazi Haji Jan Muhammad (manager and treasurer), Jhamandas BA (auditor), Badaruddin BA, Sikandar Ali Khan Shaikh Advocate, Nawabzada Mohammad Bux, KB Haji Moula Bakhsh Soomro, Rahim Bakhsh Soomro, Seth Abdul Sattar A Ghani, Hyder Bux alias Mitha Khan Soomro, Mohammad Sachal alias Ghiasuddin Khan Baloch, Maulvi Rehmatullah, and Maulvi Shafi-ul Hasnain Muhajir.

A branch of the New Era High School was established in Mirza Mohalla at Hazari Gate, offering primary-level classes. This branch continues to operate and is a testament to the enduring legacy of Menghraj Mansharamani’s educational vision.

The capable team managed the New Era School, with the headmaster handling the routine matters. Menghraj Mansharamani initially served as the headmaster of New Era Middle School from 1932 until 1940.

Hasanand Purswani succeeded him as the school’s second headmaster in 1940. He proved another dedicated and hardworking leader. According to Haseeb Nayab Mangi, a historian from Shikarpur, New Era Middle School was upgraded to a High School and became affiliated with Bombay University in 1944.

According to the school’s honour board, Menghraj Mansharamani resumed his role as headmaster of New Era High School in 1947, serving from 1947 to 1948. Following the partition, many Hindus from Shikarpur, including Hasanand Purswani, the second headmaster of the school, relocated to India. Purswani migrated in 1947. He passed away in 1995 in Ulhasnagar. This period also saw a significant influx of Muslim emigrants to Shikarpur.

According to Haseeb Nayab Mangi, when Muhammad Akhtar assumed the role of headmaster at the school, he established a School Management Committee. This committee comprised notable members including the Honorable Mian Ali Bakhsh Mughal, Agha Gul Hasan Khan, Maulvi Haji Muhammad Abdul Karim Chishti, Agha Hussamuddin Khan, Qazi Jan Muhammad, Ghulam Nabi Mir, Sikandar Ali Sheikh, Habibullah Shujra, Nooruddin Alvi, Dewan Tehlram and Dewan Jaswant Lal.

The New Era High School is housed in a two-story building, one of the most impressive structures in Shikarpur. It features three arched entrances facing south, with additional gates opening to the east and west. Originally, the school comprised three halls and five rooms.

It also hosted a Dramatic Society, which regularly organised plays as a means to generate funds for school expenses. Although tuition fees were collected, they were not sufficient to cover the operational costs, prompting donations from the nobles of Shikarpur to support the school’s financial needs.

Shikarpur’s  pre-partition New Era High School

This institution stands as a testament to the significant roles played by Menghraj Mansharamani and the Qazi family in developing the city’s modern education institutions.

According to the information on the school’s honour board, Muhammad Akhtar served as the school’s headmaster from July 1, 1949, to March 31, 1949. Following his tenure, six headmasters were appointed from 1949 to 1961. These included Ghulam Nabi Mir, who served twice – first for four months in 1949 and again for one and a half months later. He is also remembered as a poet. Other headmasters during this period were Gobind Ram Bakhtyani, Siraj-ul Haq Sheikh, Ariz Muhammad Shaikh and Taj Muhammad A Memon.

The faculty at the school were highly educated and contributed to academic literature. Notably, Taj Muhammad A Memon, who passed away in 1982, authored a book on English grammar that proved beneficial for both students and teachers.

Haseeb Nayab Mangi highlighted Memon’s contributions in an article published in the Daily Aajiyan on October 26, 2020, noting that he authored two books.

Every teacher and member of the school’s managing committee contributed to enhancing the educational standards of the school, ensuring that the students received knowledge through an updated syllabus prepared by the Vernacular Text Books Revision Committee.

A key figure in the school’s development was Qazi Jan Muhammad, son of Qazi Akbar Ali, the first manager of the school. Well-educated, he served in various capacities in the Education Department, including deputy educational inspector and administrative officer in Sukkur, retiring in 1943. He passed away in 1954.

Qazi Habibullah, a brother of Qazi Jan Muhammad, too, had a pivotal role in the school’s history. In July 1962, he purchased the evacuee property of Mengraj Mansharamani for Rs 35,000. Following the death of his brother, he assumed the role of school manager. In recognition of his substantial investment in the school, a decision was made by the school’s managing committee to rename the school in his honuor. Thus, the institution came to be known as Qazi Habibullah School.

Kisharam Rajpal, who served as the headmaster of Qazi Habibullah High School from May 1961 to December 31, 1965, was a dedicated educator. He authored textbooks for pysics,chemistry, algebra, geometry and arithmetic in Sindhi during 1960 and 1961. Other school teachers also made significant contributions to literature, notably Nisar Ahmed Soomro, who authored three books focusing on Shikarpur.

Following Rajpal’s tenure, Ghulam Hyder P Memon took over as headmaster on January 1, 1966. He held the position through significant changes, including the nationalisation of the school in 1972. Nabi Bux Channo replaced him on April 25, 1981.

After the death of Qazi Habibullah, Qazi Aziz-ur Rehman, the son of Qazi Jan Muhammad, succeeded him as the third manager of the school. Qazi Aziz-ur Rehman passed away in 1963 and was buried on the school premises.

Following his demise, his brother, Qazi Hafeez-ur Rehman, took over as the fourth manager of the school. He served in this capacity until the school was nationalised in 1972, making him the last manager before the transition.

The school has undergone significant expansion, with the addition of new rooms, halls, a computer lab and a library. In 2017, it began offering intermediate classes and was subsequently renamed Government Qazi Habibullah Higher Secondary School.

Qazi Habibullah Higher Secondary School has been distinguished by its eminent faculty, including several renowned educators and literary figures. Among them was Khiyal Das Fani (d.1955), a noted literary figure and a teacher of Shaikh Ayaz. Other notable educators included Ramchand, Nabi Bux Channo, Nazir Hussain Mughal, Mujeeb-ur Rehman Soomro, Abdul Jabbar M Memon, Muhammad Suleman Soomro, Atta Muhammad M Jokhio, Jamal-ud Din M Malano, Syed Ghulam Hussain Bukhari, Nazir Ahmed M Hakro, Manthar Ali A Bhutto, Shah Nawaz M Sanjrani, Khalilullah Soomro, Abdul Qadir G Soomro, Jalaluddin I Bhutto, Nazeer Ahmad A Memon, Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, Bashir Ahmed Hakro, Malak Dad Marfani and more. The school also hosted visiting faculty, one of the most prominent being Som Dutt (d.1969), author of A Battle Scene at Karbala from Shah Abdul Latif’s Works. Several of the teachers were poets.

In the principal’s office at Government Qazi Habibullah Higher Secondary School, portraits of its distinguished founders and administrators—Menghraj Mansharamani, and Qazi managers Qazi Jan Muhammad (d.1954), Qazi Habibullah (d.1962), Qazi Aziz-ur-Rehman, and Qazi Hafeez-ur Rehman—are prominently displayed.

These leaders dedicated themselves to enhancing the school’s educational standards and facilities. Many of the alumni have gone on to make significant contributions in various fields. Particularly notable among them are poet Shaikh Ayaz (d. 1997), politician Ram Jethmalani (d.2019), cultural advocate Abdul Majeed Sindhi and Nooruddin Sarki (d. 2007), the distinguished academic.

*Photos by the author

The writer is an anthropologist. He has authored 15 books on Pakistan’s cultural heritage and anthropology. He tweets @kalhorozulfiqar

Shikarpur’s pre-partition New Era High School