A tribute to Begum Anees Khan, an icon of women’s education

Thousands went into mourning with news of Begum Anees Khan’s passing, at noon on Wednesday, and gathered at Khushnuma, Khairtabad, to pay last respects.

Begum Anees Khan was the chairman of the Nasr Education Society. She founded Nasr School in 1965, with just 4 teachers and 12 students. She was motivated by the need of establishing an all-girls English-medium school with a curriculum that would make them stand out and enable them to challenge the ways of the world.

Begum Anees Khan’s vision was wholly supported by her husband and in-laws who always encouraged her. She was the prime example of a woman who broke all societal and patriarchal barriers, while also being deeply attached to her morals and personal values, to achieve the unthinkable in an era where women-run institutions were few and all-girls school was an idea alien to many.

Although Nasr started with an SSC curriculum, by 1978 it made the shift to ICSC, having received affiliation from the Council. A decade later, in 1988, Nasr adopted ISC curriculum for 11th and 12th grades, becoming the only ISC school in Hyderabad to teach English literature along with other subjects.

In 1996, another branch of Nasr was established at Banjara Hills. It was Begum Anees Khan who spearheaded this remarkable development and expansion, powered by her zeal for quality education for girls. In 2001, Begum Anees Khan retired from the position of principal of Nasr Girls School, giving way to Mrs Madhubala Kapoor.

I joined Nasr as a student in 2002. But despite her retirement, she was never away. Throughout my 13 long years, I saw her steady presence like an unmovable rock. At every function and event, she would grace us with her presence. Her face was always beaming and she wore smile as a permanent fixture on her face. Although away from the gruelling day-to-day affairs, she was always watching over us; proudly witnessing the school she had built flourish into the huge institution.

Everything that Nasr is today, is a direct consequence of Begum Anees Khan’s unparalleled vision and far-sighted approach.

A testament to Hyderabad’s secular Tehzeeb, Nasr celebrated Eid, Milad, Christmas, Diwali and Holi alike, including a special Dandiya event for Navratri.

A most-uniquely Nasr characteristic I fondly remember was that we were taught to call our teachers ‘aunty’. It was believed that this practice would harbour a deeper bond between a teacher and the students. As a result, most Nasr girls recall Begum Anees Khan not as “ma’am” but “Anees aunty”, which makes the loss all the more personal.

Nasr, for its students, is an experience hard to forget. Apart from providing the foundation for us to become the people we are today, Nasr also gave us memories for a lifetime, that will stay with us forever. Be it the competitive chart competitions, sports day events at the Goshamahal stadium or Laxman’s noodles. Not to forget, several personal anecdotes that each student holds dear, apart from the more shared ones.

We owe it all to the iron lady, visionary and great educator – Begum Anees Khan.

Anees aunty was a steady figure in every Nasr student’s life and will be deeply missed. And though she is gone, she leaves behind a remarkable legacy and thousands of passionate, empowered Nasrites who will, no doubt, strive hard to carry her legacy forward.

Nasrum min Allahi wa fathun qareeb.