The Logical Indian Crew

A Forgotten Legacy: How Fatima Sheikh Helped Savitribai Phule Start India's First School For Girls

While the country fondly remembers Savitribai Phule's contribution, many are unaware of Fatima Sheikh, India's first Muslim female teacher who broke the glass ceiling as well.

Several generations of Indian girls owe immense gratitude to Savitribai Phule. She was the country's first female teacher who opened a school for girls and took it upon herself to educate the oppressed communities. Along with Jyotirao Phule, she went down the path of social reform by championing the causes of Dalits and women.

While we are familiar with their contributions, seldom people are aware of a certain Fatima Sheikh. She stood tall with Savitribai Phule as she became India's first female Muslim teacher spearheaded an educational revolution in the 1800s.

Who Was Fatima Sheikh?

Fatima Sheikh played an essential role in starting the country's first girls school. In 1848, Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule were asked to leave their home due to their anti-Brahmanical views. At that time, educating women and the lower caste was considered a sin.

Along with her brother, Usman Sheikh, Fatima Sheikh gave refuge to them and started the school from the same building. Sheikh even undertook a teacher's training course along with Phule to assist her in managing the educational institution. Historical accounts suggest that she taught in all of the schools opened by Savitribai Phule and kept doing so for a very long time.

Education For Girls

Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule drew ire for their reforming ways from the society around them in Pune. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Fatima Sheikh also faced this. Many families were hesitant to send their daughters to school, and they belonged to localities that were segregated based on religion and caste.

Despite those hurdles, Sheikh was not deterred. According to Live Wire, she went from house to house, enrolling girls into their school. In no time, her efforts bore fruit as several students took admission and broke all barriers to receiving education from two revolutionary teachers.

However, her inspiring legacy is non-existent in our history books. People fondly remember Savitribai Phule for quite some time, but not many know who Fatima Sheikh is. It comes as no surprise with the current regime trying its very best to erase any 'Islamic' reference in Indian history to make it polarised.

Also Read: How Crusader Savitribai Phule Ensured Dalits Survived 1897 Bubonic Plague

Contributors Suggest Correction
Writer : Akanksha Saxena
Editor : Ankita Singh
Creatives : Akanksha Saxena

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