October 30, 2013
The Anglo-Arabic High School in Delhi was founded in 1696 by a military commander of the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb.The school has produced leaders of Indian and Pakistani politics, art and sciences such as Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s first prime minister; Syed Ahmed Khan, founder of the Aligarh Muslim University; and Mirza Masood, the Indian Olympic hockey player. For centuries, little changed – until the school decided to admit girls.
The decision to admit girls last year was based on a need to offer schooling to girls from Muslim families.
A government-commissioned report published in 2009 found that only 68 per cent of Muslim girls attended school, compared with 80 per cent of girls from other religious communities. The report also noted that 25 per cent of Muslim children between the ages of six and 14 had never attended school, or had dropped out.
Located in Old Delhi the school is now fighting a number of challenges. They would like to be declared a heritage property in the hope of preventing the current activity that surrounds the building. Outside the walls, lorries and rickshaws jostle for space on the one-lane road. There is an illegal lorry stand and a homeless shelter that has been built between the two main gates of the school. Mohammed Wasim Ahmed, the school principal, worries about the safety of the students, especially the girls. Guards often chase trespassers off the property as night falls.
Photo edit and sequencing by photo editor, James O’Hara