Alok Chandra Deb was born in 1898 in Dehradun. He took a Master’s degree in Literature from Calcutta University and worked as a teacher with Col. Brown’s School and the Gurkha Military Academy. His nationalist beliefs, fired by his readings in English, Urdu and Bengali literature, led him to conceive of an educational programme in which practical learning would complement the development of the mind and intellect through critical understanding.
His convictions, along with those of other pioneers, led to the beginning of a new era in Indian education. Indians would henceforth be confident and independent minded; and no longer the unquestioning followers of European models and methods.
Cambridge School was founded by him on 7th April 1931 in a small flat in Qutub Road, Delhi and it moved soon after to Daryaganj. By the 1940s it had already established itself as one of the foremost schools in the city.
How it began?
Cambridge School Delhi- thus named because it was one of the first schools to send up students for the Senior Cambridge Examination – acquired its own campus in Srinivaspuri in 1961. The foundation stone of the building was laid by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the Vice President – and later President – of India; and it was inaugurated by Smt. Indira Gandhi in 1963. Among those who visited the School, were Presidents Zakir Hussain, N. Sanjeeva Reddy, Zail Singh and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Prime Ministers Nehru, Indira Gandhi and I. K. Gujral.
Shri A.C. Deb was the Principal of the school till 1964 and continued to work for the institution till well into his eighties. The School’s motto – We Learn to Serve – reflects his deep conviction that a true education is one that promotes service to society. That aim requires the development of character, curiosity, competence and self-awareness – the main objectives of an enlightened school. Along with traditional subjects such as science, history or literature, physical activities like gardening, poultry farming and carpentry were also part of the school curriculum.
Mr. Deb’s wife Roma Deb contributed significantly to the growth of the institution. In the early years she looked after the needs of boarders, and took them under her roof when they were unable to go home for the vacations. Herself a well-known singer, she was also one of the founder members and office bearers of the Delhi Childrens’ Theatre which has promoted creative drama in schools and trained thousands of children since its inception in 1954.
Generations of students and teachers remember Alok Chandra and Roma Deb with reverence. The Cambridge School, with four other branches in Delhi and the NCR today, is the result of their beliefs and lifelong endeavours.