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Striving for Education

Soon after his return from marriage from India in 1923, Mr.  M N Naidu resumed his business in Lautoka.

Mr. Naidu was noted for his generous sponsorship for religious and educational causes. During this time the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha was set about establishing the Gurukul School in Saweni, Lautoka. This after the end of World War 1. Mr. Naidu gave a large sum of donation towards the building of this school. All other Indian communities of the Lautoka contributed as well for this worthy cause. But unfortunately when the school was completed the Arya Samaj was quick to take all responsibilities in the affairs of running the school. The South Indians were very annoyed particularly because they had little or no say in the school committee; and the Samaj did not have any provisions for the teaching of South Indian language in the school. It was even said that the South Indian children were asked to sit outside the building on benches whilst the others were inside. The truth of this statement could not be verified. It could be an exaggeration of expression by the ill treated South Indians of that time.

The whole picture printed against the South Indians by this school made Mr. M N Naidu to think otherwise of the school. This was sufficient to rouse Mr. Naidu to start a private school of his own at Namoli in Lautoka. At his own expense he brought over teachers from India. He even fed the pupils or housed many of them.

From 1926 onwards the weight of South Indian sentiment was in favour of more positive action towards securing adequate education for Madrassi children. The mood of impatience grew largely out of resentment against the Arya Samaj. They had by now running schools in places like Wairuku, Votualevu, Vitogo, Sabeto and Saweni. These schools had no provision for teaching of the languages and worse still securing teachers became exceedingly difficult because of the scarcity of teachers qualified to teach South Indian languages.

Mr. M N Naidu himself was finding difficulties in recruiting language teachers from South India even he had all the will in the world.

In the Education Commission sitting of 1926, in Lautoka, Mr. Naidu ruefully declared and admitted to them that he had started the Namoli School with the intention of teaching Tamil. He told the Commission that the Government is giving him 4 pounds whereas the total expense for the month was 18 pounds. Of course he built the building for 500 pounds which was his own funding.

Thus it can be very well established that the priority for education of the South Indian children was utmost in the hearts of the Girmityas and with such people like Mr. M  N Naidu their aspirations were achieved.

There were dissentient coming from many sectors, the Government, the North Indian Girmityas who arrived before the South Indians and even within the Sangam people.     


 The first Sangam Schools

 Nadi Sangam School

T he Nadi Sangam School commenced operations at the Subrahmanya Swami Temple in March 1927. It is well noting here that there were cluster of schools running for the South Indians prior to this in Tagi Tagi, Tavua, in a thatched bure and in Ra. M. N. Naidu was running his own private school in Namoli Lautoka as well.

The Iron and timber building of 1927

But the first recognized Sangam School was that in Nadi. The school’s progress was greatly facilitated by generous donations from M N Naidu who provided furniture and seconded one of his own teachers T. Araialu Naidu. The starting number of pupils was 20.

 The school at the temple was only a temporary measure until such time a suitable site could be obtained for a more substantial building. M.N.Naidu made available a large piece of land in the town, and the executive committee of the Sangam was empowered to a general meeting. This meeting took place on the 27th December 1927 to appoint trustees.  A letter in the “Fiji Times” of 10.1.1928 written by one Mr. V.R.Jam (Venkata Ramanujam) said “it is expected that in a short period a building will be constructed for a school in Nadi where boarding as well as higher education will be offered freely to the children of school going age irrespective of caste, rich or poor”.

Fund raising began with tremendous vigour headed by Jambulingam Pillai, M N Naidu and Sadhu Kuppuswami.

 Construction of the school building was begun in the middle of 1928 on two adjoining blocks of land belonging to M N Naidu. Mr. A H Marlow was contracted to construct this school building. The cost at the time was Pounds 1925.00 which could be around $4500.00 nowadays. The Indian Affairs Secretary Mr. Pearson laid the foundation stone on July 30th 1928. It took almost a year to complete the building. The South Indians were the proudest race at that time. They have achieved a dream and the building was a showpiece for the community. In the bi-lingual paper “Vriddhi” it was quoted as “the largest Indian building in Fiji and we congratulate them”.

 Though the Sangam could now boast a building larger than any other Indian organization of Fiji it took months before real use to this building could be made to use. A turn of events took place. A “caveat” was put in place by A H Marlow. Sangam was not able to pay the construction charges in full.  It was then the transfer of the Sangam School building was done by deed of trust to the trustees of the TISI Sangam and then Mr. M N Naidu entered into a mortgage with A H Marlow for the sum of 941 pounds 11 shillings and 9 pence.

The terms of repayment was laid down as 25 pounds monthly. An intense fund raising effort was then launched by Sangam. One of the ways it started collected funds was through the children. The children were trained to deliver speeches at meetings through out the six districts. A sheet of cloth was spread in front of the assembly and the people would throw their contributions in it.

Financial difficulties were one. The other big one was from the Education Department. The Government created obstacles or rather found faults in the building such as “want of ventilation”, “sanitation” etc. This could be one way the Education Department was forcing things because they saw that the Sangam School’s declared intention to emphasise the teaching of South Indian Languages.

It has been asserted that Badri Maharaj and the Arya Samaj were bringing pressure to the Government against encouraging the Sangam. This is not an entirely frivolous suggestion. The Arya Samaj considered itself the spokesman for the entire Indian community in Fiji. In the Pacific Islands Monthly Journal in September 1936 one R W Robson commented “A small group of educated Indians control Arya Samaj; Arya Samaj controls the Hindus; and the Hindu section controls the Indian community in Fiji”. The Arya Samaj tended to react strongly when it saw its position of eminence was threatened. An instance worthy of note is that when Maganlal Manilal began to command support amongst Fiji’s Indians, it was Badri Maharaj and his followers who deplored Manilal’s activities and petitioned the Governor to punish him. This similar fate befelled Bashist Muni. This Muni would not even let an Arya Samaji cross his path. He would sprinkle water to cleanse himself. Such was the distance from the two organization. It was the Arya Samaj when seeing the popularity of Bashist Muni; they collected signatures to petition for his deportation.  The Arya Samaj were alarmed by the aspirations of the TISI Sangam and tried to quell the movement just as they had deterred others before.

The fledging Sangam movement could ill afford opposition at this time. The disastrous floods of the 1929 had swept away the school at the Temple so it was all more important to and there was an urgency to operate this newly built school.

Finally the time came. After several request and deputations to the Government the go ahead was given on the 9th February 1930 to open this school. The Head Master was released from the Namoli School. Mr. M N Naidu sent Mr. K P Joseph to be the first Head Master of the Nadi Sangam School. Urdu was taught by Mr. Kuldip Singh. Mr. Bhagwan Das and Mr. Araialu Naidu and Mr. Bihari Prasad were other teachers.

 Sangam noted the valuable contributions made by the legal representatives of Mr. A D Patel and Mr. S B Patel. It was fitting that these two were made Manager and President respectively of the Management Committee.

 With the opening of the Nadi Sangam Primary School the most precious ambition of the South Indians had at least been achieved.

Penang Sangam School—Rakiraki

The South Indians of Ra were no less unremitting or underprivileged. They also embarked on ventures to give proper education to their children. The Wairuku School was barely unaccommodating. There was a short of space and no teachers to teach the South Indian languages. With the formation of the TISI Sangam the people had been charged up for the job without any fear to provide for their children.


During 1928 many discussions tool place to begin a school in Vaileka. There were strong leaders in Ra; K S Raman, Bal Sundaram Mudaliar, Ram Sami Wattiar and Alaparty Tataiya amongst the others asked for help from the Manager of Penang Mill, Mr. E H Griffith.  CSR Company kindly made available a land in the Yaratale area where construction work under the supervision of Dor Sami Achari began. Whilst this new building was being constructed classes were still being carried from a temporary garage of Mr. Narayan Nair. The school costed the people 500pounds.

 Mr. E H Griffith on 31.8.1930 opened this school amongst a huge number of people present; close to 500. The school started with a roll of 105 boys and girls. Languages taught were English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

 Sangam seemed to be disaster pruned organization. Mother Nature brought the hurricane in 23.11.1930 and completely destroyed the structure. The Sangam people stood hand in hand and yet again another school was built costing 600pounds. A part European person known as Lelo built this school. But fate was waiting for this building too and it found it during another storm.

 The Madrasis of Ra were a hard nut to be despaired. They did vigorous fundraising and meeting with failures and tremendous difficulties. This time one Moti was the carpenter entrusted to build a school and two teacher’s quarters. Moti was a clever carpenter. He added steel wire stays at the four corners to secure the building for any future disasters. It stood the time gracefully.

 On 26th July 1931 D.S. John formally opened this school. A crowd of 300 people witnessed the occasion. Government officials visited the school. The people of Ra were honoured to these fitting finale years of hope and endeavour.


One of the first photos of Penang Sangam Primary School




The Ba Sangam School was founded in 1929. The C.S.R Company donated five acres of cane land which stretched from Market shopping complex towards the new market. The school, a three classroom wooden and iron building was built on the sport where the market milk bar stands today. The present bus station area was utilized as the school plays ground. The Teachers Quarters was where the present bus station toilet block is built.

In the year 1931 Fiji experienced a most devastating cyclone and flood. During the dark night of 22nd February 1931 the school building and the quarters were completely washed away. The first Head teacher of this school was Mr. Kunji Bihari and the Assistant Teacher was Mr. Rangaswamy Iyer.

After a break of a few years the C.S.R Company again donated a site which was the highest spot of ground in the vicinity of the Ba Town. The school building constructed according to the Company’s plans assumed the shape of a C.S.R bungalow. The first Head Master at this school was Mr. Y. K. Naidu. The school opened with a roll of 26 boys and 6 girls. This beautiful school enjoyed an enviable reputation over a period of some forty years or so not only in Ba itself but throughout Fiji. Regrettably the school was forced out of the area. Which was just behind late Dr. Yusuf’s residence? It was an unfortunate decision on the part of the town-planners as one of the most important educational centres and consequently been relegated to a sight which, comparatively is not so suitable.

The present school area is built on about eight acres of land. We have today a college, a primary school, a kindergarten and a school for Disabled Children.


The classes commenced on 3/2/69 with 49 children and one teacher. The dawn of this hard work resulted in a temporary resulted in a temporary shed type school which was officially declared open by late Mr. ram Reddy the founder of Cogeloa school. In 1970 when the SPSM LTD surrendered its land NLTB Mr. Shiu Narayan approached the NLTB for the school site which had a bungalow occupied by the Europeans. On 2/2/72 the school committee together with the co-operation of the staff, parents and the community of Cogeloa and not forgetting Mr. Samser kutty the school organized a historical bazaar and collected $400-00 this money was later used to grade the hill top by Mr. Malkit Singh for the school quarters and new classrooms. Later Late Mr. Baswaiya drew the plan for the new building.

On 27/6/74 the construction of the new classrooms began by Mr. Shiu Narayn & Co. Ltd. The foundation of this building was laid by the late Mr. Abbu Tata. On 12/9/72 classes 3 & 4 and 5 & 6 started in the new building. We pay homage to Mr Barmaiya who was the supervisor of the above building while under contraction. As the development of the school progressed demands for places increased thus additional classrooms were built by 24/8/84. Due to cyclone “ Martin” the roofs of classrooms and staffroom were blown away on 12/4/86.  In the year 1990the last two classrooms were completed. Today we have eight classrooms two offices, a good size playing field for our children and other educational facilities for better education. Since 1969 to date with the fullest co-operation of the school management and the teachers the development of the school has been many.


A timber and iron building was built in 1942. In 1947 the school was registered and Mr. K. Kupuswamy as the head teacher. The number increased to 44.

In 1958 another classroom was added. From 1959 – 1969 two wooden quarters were built. In 1970 head teachers’ concrete quarters was built. On 13/8/1975 foundation for new classrooms was laid. From 1976 – 1985 the number increased to 126. in 1985 two new classrooms with a office was built. In 1988 a concrete toilet block was built by the shree Krishna leela committee. The school celebrated its Golden Jubliee in 1997.

Now there are five classrooms, an office a good playing field both for girls  and boys, tow concrete quarters, concrete toilet block with other facilities for modern and better education. The teaching of tamil was introduced in 1984with a full time tamil teacher.


The koronubu Sangam School situated at Koronubu about 8 miles from Ba town, has been established in 1953. the people who contributed with dedication to the estalishmnet of this school were late Antony Sirdar, Late Chinnaiya Naicker, Late Karpuriyan, Late Murugan, Late Mullawan Sirdar, Late Kadasami Pillay and late Armugam Naicker. Although these dedicated founders are not amongst us today, the general public involved in this institution pays hearty tribute to their dedication.


The school a bure type was officially declared opened by the Manager of CSR Company Limited, Labasa, Mr G R Robertson on 14th February, 1944 at 10.00 am in the midst of interested parents and well-wishers.

Struggle to improve the school premises and compound kept on 12/1/47 in an extra General meeting of the school, the management unanimously passed a resolution to have classes 1-8.

It was during Mr. Sologar’s period as head master that the school building programme increased. When he left Mr. Ganagadharam Reddy continued with the extension and worked hand in hand with the committee to make various developments. This is the largest primary school for the Sangam organization in the North.


In 1932 some of the South Indians banded together to build a school to promote South Indian Culture and Languages. Some of these leading members of the community were:

Messers: Mr. M. N Naidu, Mr. Arunachallam Pillay, Amas Gounden, Mr. Ranjanna Sirday, Mr. Ross Reddy, Mr. Ayapp Reddy, Mr. Raman Nair, Mr. K. Naicker, Mr. Fakir Watiar, Mr. Nukau, Mr. madan Naiker, Mr. Arumugam Pujari, Mr. Pot Raju, mr. Sami Naidu, Mr. Muttan. Mr. Tambi, Mr. Murti Pillay, Mr. Choy, Mr. Sada Siwan and mr. kasim Sahib.

The urge for education promoted the south Indian Public of Lovu, Vitogo, Drasa and Lautoka Town to contribute freely, the result was a school built at Lovu. This was a beginning of Lovu Sangam School.

On 1st August, 1933 first lot of pupils were enrolled. By the end of the month there were 125 children mostly boys and few girls. As the years passed roll grew and today the roll is 613.



As early as 1926 this school was planned out by the Sangam devotees, and it was established by them in 1927.

Then suddenly there came the devastating floods of 1929, which completely washed away the school. Undaunted by the natural calamity brought about by the cyclone and floods, and by the obstructionist policy of the then education department, the Sangam members organized themselves with very great enthusiasm, and wanted to put up this Nadi Sangam school on a sound foundation at a higher level. Then the present school site was made available by some of the members of the Sangam, a strong school committee got busy in collecting necessary funds. Today it is the largest Primary School of the TISI and hopefully the biggest in the west with over a 1000 children.


Mr. Govind Pillay who very generously donated five (5) acres of his cane land for the purpose of building a school.

At first a bure was erected and the children began to attend this private school. Their sincere efforts were rewarded towards the end of 1961. As a result the school finally opened for classes on 6th February, 1962.

Today the school has three classroom concrete building and two teachers’ quarters. Since it has become a feeder school for kavanagasau Junior Seconday School, it caters for education upto class 6 only.


The 5 acres of land was donated by the late Mr. Rabhbir orf Malaqereqere to establish Nadroga Sangam School at Malaqereqere. It was established in the year 1952.


It began in 1967 when a group of citizens discussed and built a bure school. It started with evening classes to provide quality education to our children. Late Mr & Mrs Validan Achari generously donated two acres of land on the school is today.


The building of the bure school started in 1939 and because of many obstacles the school was completed and formally opened by Swami Rudrananda on 28th February, 1941.

 Concrete Building

In 1954 the amount deposited at the Sangam Head Office went upto 2332. At the Annual General Meeting held on 28th February, 1954 it was decided to use the amount for the erection of the concrete building for the school.


In 1939 a small bure school was built at Vatuyaka in the land donated by the late Mr. Gandan of Vatuyaka. Only Tamil was taught at the school. In 1940 this school was recognized by the Government.

In 1952 the school was destroyed by cyclone the school could not be revived.

Mr. Penchalu of Vatuyaka donated $1600 cash to put up a new timber and iron school. The committee and other prominent residents such as Permal Sardar, Govind Raju, Permal, Lachmaiya, marimuttu, Subarmani, late Mr. Gangan, Changalrayan and other member helped in raising funds and worked hard to register this school as Nadari Sangam School of Vatuyaka built a school of timber and iron.


In 1935 a wood and iron school (18’ x 20’) was built in Vunisamaloa, Ba. Some of the prominent and active members who worked hard to build this school were messrs. Murgappa Reddy, Pon Swamy Lyer, Changan Murugan, Vellapadayachi, Desan, Guru Swamy Bhaktar and Nur Mohammed.

In 1953 the old school was demolished and a modern wood and iron school was built. In 1956 the school was extended by another 50’ with the help of Government grant and the funds raised by the committee.

In 1970 the school was burnt to ashes. The committee put up a temporary open shed for classes. The south pacific sugar mills limited, Rarawai, Ba gave a 50’ x 20’ barrack for a nominal value of $200-00. This was utilized to build a new school. In may 1972 a two story concrete block building with 4 class rooms a library and an office began taking shape. The building was nearing completion when disaster struck again. The hurricane Bebe blew away the reconstructed wooden building. Two teacher’s quarters were vacated and the classes continued. The new concrete school building was made available for occupation in February 1973.


Ba Sangam College  was established on 15 May 1957 amidst heated opposition form the members of the Central Board of the TISI Sangam. The school started during the second term with 2 classes and approximately 49 children.

The first school building was located in Yalalevu in a house rented for this purpose. At the beginning of 1959 the committee decided to shift the building to its present site and the first building was the remodeled, renovated and reconstructed structure which originally was a CSR bungalow and which also served its term as the first southern Indian Sangam School.


This is the first Sangam Educational Institution named the founder, saint and life-long president, Sadhu Kuppuswamji.

On 4th February 1957 it started as a tutorial class of 20 students with Mr. Augustine Sitaram as the first Principal.

Ministry of Education in Suva and Labasa to stifle the growth  and development of the so called “ Mushroom” Secondary school. The school committee was ordered to discontinue the classes in primary school building at Tuatua. On account of this intervention the school was shifted to the premises of Hon. James Madhavam (MLC).

1963 heralded the appointment of Mr. Bhaskaran Iyer (Later Swami) as the principal. He had with him a wealth of experience as an educationist in Fiji and India.

The pioneers who were instrumental in building this institution were Later Mr. Valadian Achari, Late Mr Ram Samy Achari, Late Mr Moon Samy Goundar, Late Mr Ram Samy Naicker, Mr Govind Samy Naicker, Mr Ventesh Naicker, Mr Arnalajalam and Venkatajalam Achari.

In 1967 an approval to erect a school was given by the Director of Education. Evening classes were conducted by Mrs Gangamma Arjun with a roll of 52. In 1969 it was registered as a Primary school No. 3037 on 21st March.


Foundation laid by Dr Tupeni Baba, Education Minister, Bavadra Government in April 1987. School opened for classes on 22.01.91. Started with Class 1-5. 127 pupils and 4 teachers. 1st Head Teacher Mr Kissun S. Krishna, Manager – Mr Sadasiwan Naicker. Initially started with 4 classrooms 5th Classroom was initiated through a donation of $1000.00 by Mr D. Sologar on 22/01/91.

New Toilets Block was inaugurated in 1993 through Australian Aid. Schools were officially opened on 30/04/94 by Acting Prime Minister Ms Taufa Vakatale.

New Extension (8 classrooms) was completed in April 2000. Current School Roll is 390 with 13 staff (10 Civil Servants, 2LT’s, 1 Typist). Commenced 2 streams of class1 and 2 from this year (2001).


The indentured South Indians and their descendants realized that there was pressing need for the education of their children. First formal institution namely Navoli Sangam School was built in 1955. Mr Veera Sami donated the land for the school. Mr Govind Watiar laid the foundation. The firs building was made of tin roof and the walls were made of weatherboard. On the completion of the building, Mr Max Bay of the Education department did the opening.

During the first year the total roll of the school was 47, with 23 girls and 24 boys. From year to year the school roll kept on increasing and the community prospered. In 1991 the school roll reached the maximum of 221 children with civil servant staff, 1 language teacher and a Kindi teacher.


This institution was established in 1930. in 1931 the school was blown away twice in hurricane. From 1943-56 a wooden building with two classrooms, and three bures were the school buildings.

On 1.3.8/56 Mr N.S. Chalmers Manager C.S.R Mill Penang laid the foundation stone of the concrete building. Over the years the school grew in strength and today it is the largest in the district.


 Ravi Ravi Sangam School was established in 1941. the land was donated by Mr Mun Samy Gounder and Mr Sami Naidu. Mr Murgessan Naiker, Mr Ram Sami Naidu, Mr Muglaiya, Mr Vellu Reddy with others imitated to start the school. They started teaching Tamil for about 30-40 children in a bure. Mr Kirshna Narsaiya was the first head teacher assisted by MrSamuel Natesan.

The school progressed gradually and now there are 220 children learning Tamil, English, Hindi and Fijian. They have a Kindergarten too.  


 IN THE YEAR 1928 THE OFFICIALS OF Sabeto Then India Sanmarga Ikya Sangam got together and built a school to teach their mother tougue languages to their children.

In 1936 the officials of Sabeto T.I.S.I sangam in close collaboration with the officials of sabeto Kaliamma Temple built a school at the temple site in Field 5.

The Sabeto Sangam School was established in the year 1950. The new school was declared open Mr. M.J.Bay, the then Education, and Western on 8th February, 1950.


A small bure school was built in 1921 about 500 meters west of our present school site. People learnt Tamil and Telegu here also sang bhajans. One must remember this was not a fully fledged school. It was run illegally. The seed of education was sown. 

By 1926 Sevakaratnam Sadhu Kuppuswamy and his co- workers had convinced the people here to build a respectable school. Mr Sanjivi Reddy donated 5 acres of land. He then dismantled his iron wood shop. Mr Virbadru Mudaliar also donated his iron and wood house. The material of these two houses was used to build our school sometime in 1926.

On 22/5/50 the school re- started legally.

The 1952 Hurricane completely devastated the old iron and wooden building. The people quickly built school and then started raising funds for the new building to be built.

Labasa Sangam (SKM) College had now become a full- fledged college with over 1000 students with all the amenities for the development of students preparing for the real life outside the comforts of the classrooms.

On 2nd October 1996, Mr Satindra Deo was appointed the Principal to administer and manage the affairs of this College. This college has now become a household name not only the nation but across the ocean. This is the 47th year of existence as an educational establishment and all concerned with the welfare of this college are very much humbled by the achievement, progress and developments. Without an iota of doubt the college has reached the very top that any school can aspire for. Legitimately we are the Pride and spirit of Labasa and an institution to be reckoned with.


Nadi secondary School was founded in the year 1958. when Shri Vivekananda High School became the Grant- Aidied and had to comply with the conditions that grant –aided secondary schools could not admit ‘Fiji Secondary School Entrance Examination failures.’

 Change of Site

At the beginning of third team 1958, Shri Vivekananda High School moved to its present site at Malolo. Nadi Secondary School moved into the premises previously occupied by Shri Vivekananda High School. This premise was on the bank River belonged to the Nadi Temple Committee. Now Nadi Secondary school grew in religious atmosphere. A form five was introduced to the school in the year 1964. the schools strength increased to about four hundred.

Change of Hand

 Nadi Secondary School was handed over to TISI Sangam Central Board by the Nadi Education Society in the year 1967. the school was dedicated to Late Sadhu Kuppuswamy, the founder of the Sangam. The school is grown physically and academically. The other achievement has been starting of the S.I.T by the institution.


The concept of building a school was moded by the late Mr James Madhavan. The school was inaugurated in 1959. Initially there were 36 students .It was gone a long way in providing education to the large community of Raki Raki. The school has grown physically and in numbers too.


 Suva Sangam High School was formally opened on the 20th May, 1958 with 9 boys and 9 girls.

The construction of a 2 story Technical   Block was completed in 1971. it is well equipped to cater for children doing Woodwork, Technical Drawing and Home Economics. A spacious Library Block was completed at the beginning of 1975.


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