The Telegraph
Thursday , December 20 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999

Footprints of brilliance in lap of nature
- Meghalaya felicitates first students to clear matric exams from Sohra’s 170-year-old school

Shillong, Dec. 19: If there is one place in Meghalaya where historical moments can be shaped, captured, scripted and re-written, it is in the lap of nature — Sohra (Cherrapunjee) — once celebrated as the wettest place on earth.

It was at Mawsmai village near Sohra, about 60km from here, that the first primary school in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills was established in 1842 by Rev. Thomas Jones, a Welsh missionary, who also gave the Khasis their alphabets in Roman script.

A hundred and seventy years later, three students of the Larsing Khongwir Memorial Presbyterian School, Mawsmai, were felicitated for being the first to clear the matriculation examination from the historic institution.

Pyndap Shabong, Jennifer Syiemiong and Savitri Kshiar were felicitated yesterday by Meghalaya chief secretary Winston Mark Simon Pariat for creating history.

Though the school’s structure has metamorphosed from wooden rooms to cement edifices, it was not until earlier this year that the trio was placed in the second division of their Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examinations.

The felicitation ceremony was organised by the Mawsmai Presbyterian Church, which also manages the school. The day also coincided with the 72nd death anniversary of U Soso Tham, a celebrated Khasi bard, who hailed from Sohra.

The school was established when Rev. Jones came to the Khasi Hills where he resided at Nongsawlia village, located near Sohra.

Presbyterian Church Mawsmai’s secretary Pyrkhat Sohkhlet said when Rev. Jones came to reside in Nongsawlia village, he established the school at Mawsmai, which was also the first in the entire Khasi-Jaintia hills region.

After Rev. Jones passed away, the Presbyterian Church took over the management of the school and it was only in 2006 that it was upgraded into an upper primary school. When it was founded, the school had imparted only primary education.

It was not until 2009 that the school was upgraded to the secondary level and this year, the three students appeared for the SSLC examination and emerged successful.

Sohkhlet said the reason behind naming the school after Larsing Khongwir was because the church held him in high esteem for being the first Khasi to travel to Wales with Rev. Jones.

Since it took 167 years for the school to be upgraded into secondary level, Sohkhlet appealed to the state government to turn its attention towards the oldest school and extend assistance as till date, it is the church which is paying the salaries of the teachers.

Speaking at the felicitation ceremony, Pariat paid homage to Rev. Jones for bringing in the light of knowledge to the hills by setting up the school.

The chief secretary also appealed to the students to remain dedicated in their learning to bring more laurels to the historic educational institution.