by Durdana Ghias

The Daily Star 22
Sept 2 2008

Pogose School, one of the oldest schools of Dhaka, has become a
living relic due to lack of steps to conserve the building located
near Shankharibazar.

Founded on June 12, 1848, the school was initially run at the house
of NP Pogose, a well-known Armenian at Armanitola and founder head
teacher of the school. At that time it was known as Pogose Anglo
Vernacular School.

The school was shifted for some time to a rented house of JC Panioty,
also an Armenian, before being shifted to this building.

On a visit to the school last week this correspondent found the old
school building in a shabby state. The two-storey building was standing
with the quaint features of its own in the midst of a vast field. In
the middle of the pediment the year 1848 is embossed in plaster.

The building is now used for administrative purpose only. Classes
are held in another building. The portico in front of the entrance
was crowned with battlements, a style of the colonial period.

Climbing up the wooden staircase one will find a long veranda, lined
with wooden doors, on the first floor. Entering the last door of the
veranda one will find the old cashier working at a quaint counter
with wooden banisters.

There is a fireplace in a room once used as a classroom. The old
teachers' room has a big table and long benches with handles all
around it. It has a quaint chandelier hanging from the roof.

On the wall in front of the headmaster's room the portrait of NP Pogose
is hung prominently. The portrait is assumed to be drawn by C Pote,
also an Armenian and teacher of the school during its early days.

Conservation Architect Dr Abu Sayeed M Ahmed said the school's
structural design reflects the classical architectural style of the
colonial period.

"The school has arcaded veranda on the ground floor and pillared
veranda on the first floor. Wooden lattice windows were constructed
for shedding purpose," said Dr Sayeed.

Covered portico, circular pillars and triangular pediment are some
important architectural features of the building.

"The building has circular pillars with ionic shaped capitals. There
is a covered portico. Its roof was used as the veranda of the first
floor. It has a triangular pediment to highlight the central entrance,"
he said.

The central portion of the veranda on the first floor is highlighted
with three projected bays that include four columns.

"At present the outlook of the building is poor. Its surrounding is
quite barren. If trees, plants and gardens can be arranged in the
surrounding areas then the building will become more appealing and its
features will be manifested greatly to the visitors," said Dr Sayeed.

Present head teacher Zulfa Mohammed said the school has lost its past
glory as one of the best schools of Dhaka since they are not getting
good students for the last few years.

"Now we don't get good students like we had before. Previously good
students from Shyampur and the other side of the river got admitted
to this school. That stopped after closing down the eastern gate,
which we shared with Jagannnath University," he said.

"We had to close it down due to the political clashes among students
who used to get into our compound when a fight broke. Now we have
the entrance near Shankharibazar," said Mohammed.

The school's former students believe it is a matter of pride for them
that the school is their Alma Mater.

"I was a student of the school in 1950s. At that time it was one of
the most prestigious schools of Dhaka," renowned cartoonist Rafiqunnabi
(Ranabi), an ex-Pogosian, said.

"I loved my school a lot because of the big field in front of it,"
he said. "At that time I was not aware of the heritage value of the
building. But now I feel quite proud that I belong to this quaint
place," he said.