Father Eugène Lafont: A Priest, a Magician, a Teacher
Did you know that St Xavier’s College at Park Street, Kolkata, had the first science lab for students in India? It was set up by a young Jesuit, Eugène Lafont, in the 1860s – a 28-year-old priest who wanted to make science education so exciting that he turned his classes into veritable magic shows and had people buying tickets to attend.
As we discuss the new National Education Policy and our vision of our children’s future, it is important to remember that the education system in India was not framed entirely by the British. In fact, while that colonial government’s main objective was to create a class of efficient English-speaking clerks and junior officials, it was non-British educationists like Lafont who made sure that, at least in pockets, Indian students had access to the latest information from around the world in fields like science and industry.