By E.Pau Za Kam,B.A.,BED. (State inspector of School, Retired)
The State High School, Thuklai see the fiftieth anniversary of its birth this year, 1997. The Parent-Teachers’ Association of the school decided to issue a School History in commemoration of its Golden Jubilee.
In writing this article I am egged on by two motives: one, that I may not find another opportunity or suitable medium by which I could divest myself of he knowledge that fills my blossom and seeks an outlet for transmission: two, that without pretending to brag (I hate people who blow their own trumpets) I feel that I am the most qualified, among the surviving few who had played a part in the formation of the school and her subsequent development, to write the chronicle of the school when it was in its embryo. I must state that I claim this prestige or prerogative not because I can write a fairly good composition, but because I feel I had been most intimately involved in the development of the school from the earliest days of its inception.
Fifty years in the life of an institution is but very short period1 but for the men who labored to bring her into life it is a generation during which virtually all the architects have departed. I had the privilege of serving at this school when it was first opened as a Middle school at Khuasak about October 1943. Then again I volunteered to serve as head of the school in 1951. The Siyin Board of Education was composed mainly of the Siyin Chiefs and prominent elders who were most influential in the Siyin Valley. They were most courteous and readily responded to any request that we made on behalf of the school and her teaching staff. Without their constant help, I could never have discharged my duties so successfully and satisfactorily. This article is humbly dedicated to their memory, by name,
1.U Lian Thawng, A.T.M., Chief of Khuasak. (deceased)
2.U Lam Khaw Mang, Chief of Thuklai. (deceased)
3.U Thian Pum Chief of Buanman (deceased)
4.U Suang Hau Thang A.T.M Chief of Lophei(deceased)
5.U Pau Kam Chief of Limkhai(deceased)
6.U Mang Pum Headman of Voklak (deceased)
7.U Mang Kho Thang Circle Chairman, Limkhai (deceased)
8.U Suak Pum Circle Chairrnan, Buanman (deceased)
9.U On Cin. Headman of Thuklai (deceased)
And, having to write about a school for whose existence those worthies who are now no more had contributed so much effort and energy, at the expense of one’s own personal interests, I feel like one Who treads alone Some banquet-hall deserted, whose lights are fled. Whose garlands dead, And all but he departed.
Now, to begin with my story. The present State High School. Thuklai was taken over by the Government in 1947 when it was announced in the radio that a new High School was sanctioned to be opened at Thukial. In these far-off days the Chins were united in outlook and attitude. They were represented in the Government by U Vum Ko Hau (now Ph.D) who served as a member in the Governor’s Advisory Committee headed by Bogyoke Aung San himself U Vum Ko Hau and Duwa Sinwa Nawng were Deputy Counselors for the Hill Peoples. U Vum Ko Hau , no doubt, was instrumental in obtaining the High School for Thuklai, which happens to be his home village. The radio news item was received with mixed sensations in many quarters. While they appreciated the Government’s gesture of grace, on the one hand, they could not help exclaiming. “A High School at Thuklai, why Thuklai, of all places? Why not Falam, Tiddim or Haka?” They were very pertinent questions. Prior to the Second World War, the Chins could boast of a high School at Falam and a Middle School at Tiddim. They were called Government Anglo-Vernacular Schools but rather abnormal in their constitution for the former was truncated at Ninth Standard while the Inner was beheaded of its Seventh Standard. Another Middle School had been opened once at Haka, but somehow for reasons known only to God, the authorities decided to reduce the status of the school at the Primary School level.
Together with Chin Counselor Dr. Vum Ko Hau we visited Director of Public Instruction U Cho, KSM. B.A (Hons), B. Ed (Edin) to thank him about the final outcome of giving Government recognition to the SIYIN VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL as state High School. He said that Boyoke Aung San had definitely put down the policy that any School in the Chin Hills which has enough building, students and teachers for a high School should be taken over as desired by Chin Leader Counselor U Vum Ko Hau whom he had met at Panglong Conference in February 1947 U Cho also mentioned the fact that some Chin M.Ps also approached him to turn their primary fourth standard Chin Schools into Government High Schools as at Thuklai. He said he replied saying he was prepared to arrange a take-over of a school which as building and enough students for high School classes. But the fourth standard schools have not any pupils for high school classes and no extra rooms. He said he replied saying a High School could not be sent like a magic carpet complete with enough students for higher classes and enough buildings to house them. He said the Chin M.Ps then realized the self-supporting perseverance of the Siyin people since Japanese occupation. They then ceased to spread false accusation about the Siyin’s private high school, which they already founded in 1944 and not repeat not after Dr. Vum Ko Hau became a Counselor to the Governor of Burma.
The Hakha boys who wished to prosecute their further education in he Middle school would travel to Falam, and those of Tiddim who would pursue further studies would come to join the Falam High School. Falam being the seat of the Government, the Deputy Commissioner, Chin Hills had his headquarters there. It also became the center of learning for the Chin youths because students came Visitor’s Book maintained by the school observed from North and South. It was generally believed that when hostilities ceased the first High School would be opened at Falam. But when it was announced that it would be opened at Thuklai many Chins, including some college students, complained that it was not fair.
Tiddim, Falam and Hakha are Government stations, seats of the Sub divisional Administrative officers, in those days, were known as Assistant Superintendents. They were administrative centers in their own right. Opening of schools in these towns would pose no problems for they had administrative sanction before the war, and if only funds could be made available in the post war period, they could be opened at any convenient time. The only thing they needed was financial sanction, which depended on the availability of funds. Re-opening of a school after the end of the war is a matter, very normal in character that devolves on the Government as in duty bound. But opening a High school in an out-of-the-way and mere village, served only by a rough and narrow mule track as the approach road and almost cut off from the outside world is not a normal discharge of responsibility. There must be very strong and cogent reasons in support of this official act.
A few days after the announcement of the news item, U Vum Ko Hau took me round to the residence of Mr. Wedderspoon who was then the Director of Public instruction. Re received us warmly in his sitting room and in the course of our conversation he told us that he was retiring soon. He said he would go home happily remembering he had given a High School to the most deserving area. He told us that the local Education Board had opened a private Post Primary School there in 1945. We shook hands and offered our gratitude for the act of grace.
Lt. Col. T T. West subscribing an entry in the visitors’ Book maintained by the school observed that he was satisfied with the management of the school, which served as a salutary reminder that the Government had a responsibility to open other schools. He was Assistant Superintendent, Tiddim at that time, immediately after the end off the war. What do many people not know at that time is that Thuklai did not get her school as an act of grace from the Government. It was rather an act of redeeming her pledge given at the time of enlisting the support of the Siyins to resist the further advance of the Japaneses when their onslaught into the hills was very imminent in April 1942. Mr. N.W. Kelly was worried and he wanted the Chins to practice their own homeland. So he convened a meeting of the Teddim tribal chiefs, independent headmen, elders of the surrounding villages at Fort White Inspection Bungalow on the 25th and 26th April 1942. The aim and object of the meeting was to form “Levy” a sort of home guard who should wage guerrilla warfare in order to impede the progress of the enemy when he came to invade the hills. The chiefs and elders considered his proposals very seriously, and after considering the situation from every point of views, they felt that Mr. Kelly was jeopardizing not only his own life but also those of his friends and compatriots by staying among the Chins so long. So they gently told him to leave the Hills and escape to India while the going was opportune before the Japanese could capture him. The Chiefs meant well and they were sincerely concerned about the safety of their boss. But Mr. Kelly took the advice amiss and in a rage mauled some of them for their audacity. Minutes of the meeting are reproduced hereunder for interested readers to pursue. II is not clear who recorded the minutes of the proceedings. If the English he used is found faulty or defective the reader should remember that it is the substance and not the form that matters.
“Minutes of Meeting Held on the 25th and 26th April 1942.”
“A meeting composed as under was held on the 25 and 26 of April 1942 as to how form “Levy” in order to protect Chin Hills and for the prevention of Japanese’s further advance.
1. N. W. Kelly, Esquire, ODE, Asst. Supdt, Tiddim for the crown.
2. The Kamhau, The Sukte and the Siyin Chiefs and Independent Headman.
3. The village elders from, Sukte, Siyin and Kamhau Tracts.”
“The following points were discussed and agreed to:
- That, the Suktes and Siyins agreed to serve the Government as Levies to their utmost energy and as far as possible and the Government in turn will consider as afar as practicable, the way for the grant of the following privilege to the loyal subjects.
- That, the Suktes and the Siyins owned plots of land (inn mun lo ngam) be observed by the Government as private lands as it had been before and that the individual’s right should no longer be interfered with for inquiry.
- That, plots of land in Sukte and Kamhau tracts not owned by any definite individual be brought before the notice of the Government for purpose of dividing the land to individuals for private land after termination of war and this will be considered in the interest of the public by the Government.
- That, there should always be at least 7th Standard Government Anglo-Vernacular School at Tiddim.
- That, the newly formed levies should never be subjected to command of any Military Officer but be always under Mr. Kelly, the Assistant Superintendent.
- That, a direct fight with the enemies should never be fought but ambushing, sniping, etc., as was practiced by China in olden time be adhered to.
- That, unless otherwise agreed to, Levies will not go beyond No.2 Stockade.
- That, in case any Levy man becomes casualty (killed or wounded), he will be given Ra. 300/- rupees three hundred only) as compensation and appropriate pension will be considered to he wounded and disabled.
- That, except in the case of 303 Rifles, other weapons carried by Levies will become his own on termination of War. If any levy man has more than one guns, he may keep all as his own, provided he served with the Levies.
- That, in future, the Government should not give preference for appointment in Government Service to Falam and Haka saying that any man had already been in service; but appointment will be made to the learned and deserved without discriminating as to whether he is a Tiddim, Falam or Haka.
- That, as soon as the present war ends, the Government will start scheme for uplift and development of Chins and the Chin Hills in all respects such as construction of motor roads etc.
- That, the Government will establish as a Dispensary at Fort White for the Siyin area as well as for passers-by.
- That, the terms of promise by the Government during the forming of Labour Corps for France and Levy to suppress the Haka and Thado rebellions were never fulfilled.
- That the terms of agreement now reached should not be treated as above but be fulfilled at once.
(True Copy) TIDDIM
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