Vijayawada was initially on the receiving end, when the sector of education was concerned. For the fault of not being chosen as an academic destiny in colonial India, it was obviously kept aloof from the students seeking higher studies. Guntur and Machilipatnam in the neighbourhood of Vijayawada were the towns of their academic pursuits in late 19th century and also in early 20th century.
After being constituted in the year of 1926 by Madras Act of 1926, Andhra University (AU)was established in 1928 in the present Victoria Jubilee Museum building. But, Sir C R Reddy (CattamanchiRamalinga Reddy), founder of AU and its first Vice Chancellor, called Vijayawada- an intellectual Sahara (desert). He made such unbridled remarks on Vijayawada, which, according to him, had no conducive atmosphere for intellectual pursuits. As a result, the city was deprived of AU, as the university was soon shifted to ‘salubrious’ Visakhapatnam.
The scenario was gradually changed with the establishment of SRR & CVR Government College, and Andhra Loyola College by Society of Jesus (Jesuits), a Catholic religious order. Establishment of Siddartha Academy of General and Technical Education in 1975 by eminent doctor Dr. PinnamaneniVenkateswaraRao and renowned auditor, MummaneniSubbaRao, was a new chapter in the saga of academic evolution of Vijayawada. With Montessori Mahila Kalasala (women’s college), V Koteswaramma pioneered the women education in the city. Now, with the advent of many corporate players, including Sri Chaitanya, Narayana, Krishnaveni, Vignan, it emerged to be the educational hub of South India.
Old College Try – SRR & CVR College
After being bereft of university, it took almost a decade for an academic beginning in Vijayawada, which was Bezawada then. SRR College was only a second grade college with Intermediate classes. It was set up by not by local people, but by the benevolence of Sir Raja Rangayya AppaRaoBahadur, Zamindar of Nuzvid. Thus, the SRR College came into existence in 1937 in a non-descript hired building in Governorpet area.
Well-known philanthropist Chunduru Venkata Reddy donated a sizable amount and joined the management in 1945. The college was then re-named SRR & CVR College. Much later in 1949 it was upgraded into a degree college with only B.A. and B.Com. classes, while B.Sc. was introduced in 1952. It was taken over by the Government in 1958. This was the only college in the city till 1954, when Andhra Loyola College was set up.
The SRR & CVR College had a good reputation for its excellent teaching faculty. The second principal of the college was P Srinivasachar, a PhD from London University. Great scholars and poets joined the staff and among them, ViswanadhaSatyanarayana, JatavallabhulaPurushotham, D V Krishnaiah, J S Sastry, B R Rao, PMadhavaSarma, Anne Radhakrishna Murthy, C S Rama Narasimham and Jonnalagadda Satyanarayana were names to reckon with. These names were very much in demand in literary and cultural functions in the State for their vivacious brilliance in their fields.
“I had the unique privilege of having the longest association with the college, as a student for four years, and as a member of the staff, for 33 years. It was also my rare good fortune to have got the opportunity to work along with some of the eminent teachers, who taught me,” teacher, writer and columnist AndavilliSatyanarayana told KostaLife.
According to him, the college has great distinction of having prominent alumni, including the icon of Telugus, NTR (N T Ramarao). The former Governors, P S Rama Mohana Rao and V Rama Rao, former ministers, ChanumoluVenkataRao, PaladaguVenkataRao and Devineni Rajasekhar were the students of this college. Former VC of AU, Prof. K Rama Krishna Rao, notable musicians of the State, Pemmaraju Surya Rao and Ayyagari Syam Sundaram were also old students of SRR&CVR college. Anne Radha Krishna Murthy, the first principal of P B Sidhartha College of Arts and Science, was a direct student of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in SRR & CVR College.
For a long time, classes were conducted in thatched huts and sheds. Later, it witnessed progress with the addition of fine buildings and with the introduction of PG classes. National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has given ‘B’ grade certificate to the college, Dr V Ravi, principal of the college said.
Andhra Loyola College – No Money-Spinning Enterprise
‘Teach us to give and not to count the cost’- This is what St. Ignatius of Loyola says. Andhra Loyola college, Vijayawada is a premier educational institution in the State, which is run by members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), a Catholic religious order, initiated by St. Ignatius, still abide by his quote.
Andhra Loyola College (ALC) was founded in December 1953 at the request of the Catholic bishops of Andhra Pradesh and began its academic sessions in July 1954. It attained autonomous status, with NAAC’s Grade A Status.
“When the students were migrating to distant places in Tamil Nadu for higher education in post- Independence era, Jesuits were sought after by the Catholic bishops of the State, particularly by Bishop Ignatius Mummadi of Guntur Diocese, for establishing an institute with upper standards of education in Vijayawada. The bishops were successful in prevailing upon Jusuits and their efforts resulted in establishing ALC,” Rev FrDr G A Peter Kishore, principal of ALC told KostaLife.
According to him, ALC was established on a 110-acre land with the generous financial support of local philanthropists. It was affiliated to Andhra University till December 1976 and to Nagarjuna University thereafter. Later, it became independent in framing the syllabi for various courses and conducting examinations. Thus, in 1988, the college won the autonomous status and got affiliated to Krishna University.
This great endeavour of Jesuits helped the college to be there right at the top of arts and science colleges in the State. Being socially liable, ALC opened its gates wide to all sections of society with an objective of providing education to the marginalised sections.
Aspiring and achieving for high standards and excellence from the day one in its long journey of 60 years, ALC has consistently occupied a leading position in higher education, with incessant production of students of ‘competence, conscience, and compassionate commitment’. A good number of the alumni of the college have reputed themselves by their exclusive contribution to their own professions as well as society.
Former Chief Minister of AP, (late) Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, was an alumnus of ALC. Retired Cabinet Secretary in Vajapayee government, Tata Ramachandra Prasad, Dr Jaya Prakash Narayan of LokSatta, former MP of Vijayawada Lagadapati Rajagopal, IAS officer, Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar are a few to name in the list of alumni.
“Education is ‘character building’ and value education is what ALC has been imparting upon,” Fr Kishore added.
Bring Out Girls’ Best – Montessori Mahila Kalasala
Director and Correspondent of Montessori Mahila Kalasala, a Torchbearer for girls’ education, Dr. V Koteswaramma is one of the important educators of Vijayawada. With her go-getter attitude, she made Vijayawada rid of the curse of Sir C R Reddy, who called the city an ‘intellectual desert’. She fulfilled her dream of educating women from KG to PG.
It was a humble beginning for the institution, when it was started as a school in a tiny building with 20 students by another far-sighted social worker Dr K Atchamamba, an out-and-out dynamo of energy.
Koteswaramm, who hailed from a tiny village, Goshala near Kankipadu, took the cudgel, understanding the importance of woman’s role in building up a healthy society. She worked with a missionary zeal for development of the small institution. It has grown in size and stature and emerged one of the best institutes for women in the entire state with strength of 6,000 students. It has been well-known as Koteswaramma college, but not Montessori college, as it has more of her.
“It was my ambition that a girl child joined the institution in KG should leave after her post-graduation. From KG to PG all under one roof had been my dream and it is brought to to fruition,” she told KostaLife.
The octogenarian lady, who is still proactive, does not allow grass to grow under her feet till she accomplishes her goals and the immediate goal is to develop the institute into a full-fledged women’s university. She was an ordinary graduate when she joined the institution. Growing along with it, she completed her post-graduation and took doctorate from Nagarjuna University to equip herself eligible to be at the helm of affairs of the college of PG level.
Pragmatic Plunge – Siddhartha Academy of General & Technical Education
Private individuals plunging into the establishment of vocational colleges including polytechnic, engineering and medical colleges, has been a recent endeavour. But, Vijayawada had foreseen a similar and successful attempt, 40 years ago, when Dr Pinnamaneni Venkateswara Rao, a highly reputed surgeon and Mummaneni Subba Rao, renowned Chartered Accountant made a far-sighted initiative of establishing Siddhartha Academy of General & Technical Education in 1975. They successfully pooled up a peer group of philanthropists from different disciplines with similar ideals on the system of education, particularly of technical education. Nearly 250- member group, which came forward under the aegis of Pinnamaneni, had a proclivity to invest on education with greater care and reverence.
Accordingly, the first private Engineering college of Andhra Pradesh, Velagapudi Ramakrishna Siddhartha Engineering College (1977) was started, quickly in succession of Parvataneni Brahmaiah Siddartha Arts and Science College (1975). The same private munificence led to the founding of State’s first private medical college, Siddhartha Medical College (1980) with a single-minded focus on providing medical education of higher standards.
In due course, Dr Pinnamaneni took care to establish an array of educational institutions and his workaholic companion Mummaneni played a vital role in rising the educational institutions brick by brick. When Dr Pinnamaneni was the founder president of Academy, Mummaneni, who was also a senior partner in Brahmayya & Co, was treasurer. Both were instrumental in strengthening the academy into a big family of 14 institutions, including two engineering colleges and a medical college. In addition, the Academy runs a Kalapeetham, which was later named after Mummaneni, for the promotion of art and culture and a Foundation which financially supports the poor for their education.
“Owing to Dr Pinnamaneni’s pioneering and tireless efforts in mobilizing resources for building a landmark chain of educational institutions under the banner of Siddhartha Academy, Vijayawada converted into “Vidyalawada,” a hub of education and a `temple of learning’,” Dr Chadalavada Nageswara Rao, Managing Trust of Dr. Pinnamaneni and Smt. Seethadevi Foundation and director-general of the Pinnamaneni Siddartha Institute of Medical Sciences and Research said.
According to T Ramesh Babu, the Administrative Officer of Siddhartha Academy, the cumulative number of students under the umbrella of the Academy is 21,000, out of which 11,000 are boys. Besides 1500 strong teacher contingent, ranging from Doctorates to Graduates, Siddartha Academy has 1700 employees in non-teaching category.
Future Forward – Better and Higher Education in Bezawada
The 13th schedule of the AP Reorganization Act made it clear that the new State – Andhra Pradesh- would get IIT, NIT, IIM, IISER, Central University, Agricultural University, IIIT and one AIIMS-type super-specialty hospital-cum-teaching institution.
According to official announcement, a Union Government funded institute on the lines of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is going to come up in Vijayawada. It was also said that an amount of Rs. 1,200 crore earmarked and already sanctioned as the first installment for the purpose.
Mangalagiri or Vijayawada will be the likely choice for setting up of the AIIMS and the Agriculture University will come up beside the Regional Agricultural Research Station in Lam, which is also closer to the city, sources averred.
But, a rosy picture at one side, what is worrying educationists on the other hand is, the deep-rooted trend of giving short shrift to courses in humanities. The newly established Arts and Science colleges almost forgot to touch undergraduate courses in philosophy, history, politics or, for that matter, even botany and zoology, with a barge pole. The focus is on starting job-oriented courses, such as BSc in computer applications, biotechnology and visual communication, B.A. in journalism and new media or M.A. in mass communication.
Therefore, to let hundred flowers blossom, at least a few schools of thought should survive; will they be allowed to survive?