After Mahatma Ghandi came to South Africa in 1893, with his support, guidance and the enthusiasm of the young and energetic members of the Patidar community, the United Patidar Society was formed.
In 1918 land was purchased in Fordsburg, Johannesburg upon which the “PATIDAR HALL” was constructed for the use of the community and the public at large. In 1933 an entirely new building was erected which was officially opened by Sir Kunwar Maharaj Singh – India’s Agent-General to South Africa.
The Patidar Society was fortunate from time to time, to welcome great Indian personalities like Srinivasa Sastri, Srimati Sarojini Naidoo and many other luminaries from whom the community gained invaluable inspiration and guidance.
In 1936, a vernacular school under the name, Shree Bharat Sharda Mandir (“SBSM”) was started for the purpose of reinforcing Indian Culture and Language education for our children.
In 1948, on the existing site, a new school building was erected. The enrolment during that year stood at approximately 700.
Soon the existing building could not accommodate the ever growing demand for places and accordingly, the premises were expanded. Children were admitted to the school as they still are today without any thought whatsoever given to religion, caste, colour or creed. This policy of “inclusiveness” is maintained to this day.
The Move to Lenasia
In 1972, with the majority of the Indian community having been re-located to Lenasia by the Apartheid Government in its implementation of the Group Areas Act, the Society purchased a site in Lenasia. In 1974 the society began the construction of a new complex comprising of a Main Community Hall, a Recreation Hall and numerous rooms for nursery, primary and secondary education. Ten additional classes were built in 1985 by ten sincere and community conscious donors. Subsequently, at the kind and spirited urging of members of the Johannesburg Oppenheimer family, the Montessori system was introduced as the main method of instruction for the elementary school. This tradition still persists.
In the afternoons the sessions at the premises were carefully planned to meet the needs of the community in providing a vernacular – Gujarati and Indian Cultural Education. Approximately 500 children were enrolled for those sessions. In 1987 the various schools under the aegis of the Transvaal United Patidar Society, celebrated a well-earned Golden Jubilee.
A Progressive Today
With the onset of a Democratic South Africa in 1994 and with the support of the new dispensation, the society embarked on a new venture: a fully inclusive school, providing and meeting the needs of all the students from elementary school to Gr 12. The support of the community exceeded all expectations so that within five years of the inaugural year (1996), the school grew from only Grades 1, 2 and 3 to Grade 12. This tremendous spurt in growth brought with its concomitant expansion. Classrooms and facilities for the elementary school have been fully subscribed. A second phase to embody state of the art facilities in the form of Music, Art and Computer rooms together with appropriate storerooms, a board-room and caretaker facilities was built in 1999 – 2000. With financial aid from the Anglo American Group further expansion including an administration block, laboratories, additional classrooms, a library, store-rooms and of significant importance to the school, a place of worship that will help to fulfil the school’s Hindu Ethos was completed in 2001. Today the school boasts a population of over 500 learners from play-group to Grade 12, a Headmaster, an Academic Head (Duty Headmaster), 4 Phase Heads, a total of 49 staff members inclusive of academic and administration staff.
Aims and Objectives
This Society was then created for the upliftment of the Patidar Community in moral, social, educational and religious fields.
To provide quality, affordable education based on the Hindu Ethos in a multi-cultural society.
Shree Bharat Sharda Mandir is an institution in which all members of the school family recognize the special Hindu character of the school and join in maintaining the Hindu values within an SBSM tradition which include respect, humility, kindness, tolerance, love and forgiveness.
Our students, as a result of our holistic approach to education, should be young people who love God, live the Hindu values, are confident in their abilities and competent in their field of study, with a mature sense of social awareness expressed through service (outreach).
To encourage through participation in the extra-mural programme of the school, both sporting and cultural, loyalty, commitment and teamwork.
To enable each student to realize his/her own academic potential through development of self-esteem and effective study skills, a positive work ethic and sound relationships with their educators.