If charging high fee is a criterion for deciding if a school is a good one, then the 168-year-old St. Aloysius High School is losing out to the new ones.
Located in the Old Town area, the school was started by Fr. John Decompoix in 1847, when the first batch of Catholic priests from Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales had arrived in India from France.
It was not only the first Catholic institution in Visakhapatnam but was also the only English medium school between the Madras and the Calcutta Presidencies in British India.
It was also one of the oldest ICSE schools with boarding facility in the combined State of Andhra Pradesh.
From a simple tiled house, the school developed its own rock edifice spread over a couple of acres of land.
But despite all the credentials such as a glorious past, the biggest school library, most modern labs, experienced faculty, good boarding facilities, and largest playing grounds, the school has been losing out to the corporate schools coming up recently.
“There are a few factors,” said principal Fr. P. Raja Reddy.
According to him, primarily, the school finds itself located in one corner of the city. Other factors such as pollution and unhealthy practices by other schools are affecting it. The real expansion of the city began post-1970. Till then, the city or town was limited to the boundaries of the Old Town.
“Now, the Old Town is the most neglected part of the city,” said Fr. Raja Reddy.
With the development of Visakhapatnam Port, pollution levels have increased beyond the permissible levels.
Most importantly, the plan to shift the school was propagated by the VPT. This appears to have affected its admissions, which have dropped from a full strength of 2,000 to about 900.
“The plan is now shelved as our congregation has not agreed to it,” the principal told The Hindu .
“It is a heritage structure and we cannot have it demolished. We have vehemently opposed it,” said Prasad of INTACH.
“We just charge Rs. 14,000 per annum as fee, as we believe in providing quality education to all segments. But the fee in corporate schools is much higher and parents appear to take a decision based on the fee structure,” the principal said.