St Francis Primary School is ninety years young. Founded by Bishop Fleischer, the school opened as a private school under the direction of Miss Mary Roberts, and Mother Emiliana was the school manager.
Sources reveal that education in the Park Rynie area started in 1917. In the early days, school children came from the sugar mill area of Renishaw.
The school catered for Indian, Coloured and African children.
In 1928 the school became an official educational institution and was named the Park Rynie Government-Aided Indian School and its management was entrusted to the Sisters at Marannhill. The first officially appointed headmistress was Sister Theodora.
Additional classrooms were built as the need arose and much later prefabricated classrooms were added. With representation from the community in 1992, the Dept. of Education, controlled by the erstwhile House of Delegates, purchased the adjoining property and the new buildings were then built and occupied in 1995.
Former pupils of the school, Mr Dick Naidoo and Mr R Bagrathie, became teachers at the school in the early 1940s.
The first Indian principal of the school was Mr NR Bhimma. Besides serving the local community, children also came from Amandawe, Kelso, Ellingham, Umgababa, Amahlongwa, Dududu and Ilfracombe.
It has been acknowledged that the Christian Missionary Movement pioneered the provision of education for Indian children in the very early days until the community took the initiative and built its own schools. Many years later, community-built schools obtained a rand-for-rand subsidy from Province.
The current enrolment at St Francis is 998 learners, with a teaching staff of 30, and a support staff of 6, as well as 2 admin staff and 1 librarian. The current principal is Mr NN Naidoo, also a former pupil of St Francis Primary School.
He informed the Rising Sun that particulars of the celebration will be made known as the year progresses.
An earnest appeal is made to past learners, staff members, members of the SGB, community leaders and to persons with historical or sentimental ties to the school, to submit messages or articles for inclusion in a booklet to be published to commemorate the anniversary. The school will host a banquet at which the booklet will be launched.
For further information contact the school on 039-978-1544.