It is said that a child’s first teacher is his or her mother. It seems fitting that women should take the leadership role in teacher education; a field that was once dominated by males. The Cyril Potter College (CPC) of Education is the institution which awards the Trained Teachers Certificate in Guyana. In the late 70’s, the trend of predominantly male Principals at CPC changed and more women became Principals. Mrs. Savitri Balbahadur was the first woman of Indian descent to head the College.
Mrs. Balbahadur, born on October 4th, 1945 attended the Bishops’ High School from 1957-1964 where she wrote her ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels. During her five (5) year stint at the University of Guyana, 1964 – 1969, she pursued a BSc in Biology while working as a teacher at the Rama Krishna Primary School. However, this was not her first job; she started working in the public sector at the Inland Revenue Department but later moved to Rama Krishna Primary when it operated under a shift system. This allowed her to attend night classes at UG and still maintain a full time job. At Rama Krishna she honed her skills in teaching and subsequently went on to achieve her Diploma in Education from the University of Guyana during the period 1969 – 1970. This enabled her to move from the arena of Primary to Secondary education. She taught Biology at Richard Ishmael Secondary School for approximately a year and then moved to South Georgetown Secondary School. In 1971, Mrs.
Balbahadur earned the coveted Government of Guyana /Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Scholarship for the Teachers Supervision program to the University of Western Ontario in Canada. On her return in 1972 she began working at the then Guyana Teachers College in Battery Road, Kingston. However, dedication to her studies and career did not prevent her from having an equally fulfilling family life. On August 20th, 1972, she got married to Mr. Pooran Balbahadur and later went on to earn the most respected title held by all women; that of “mother” when she gave birth to her only child, Avinash in 1973. At the Cyril Potter College of Education, formerly known as Guyana Teachers College, she continued her services as a Science lecturer and was further promoted to Principal in 1995, becoming the first female Principal of Indian descent in Guyana. After six (6) years as Principal, Mrs. Balbahadur retired in September 2001. This did not stop her career in educational development. She went on to work as the field manager for the CIDA funded ‘Distance Education Project’ from October 2001 – 2009. After 47 years of working as a teacher and educator, Mrs. Balbahadur retired from her illustrious career.
Where can we find her now?
Mrs. Balbahadur continues to play an active role in her community and in the education field even after retirement.
She does voluntary work at the Dharmic Rama Krishna School; she is also a member on the Board of Dharmic Rama Krishna School, Chairperson for Guyana Book Foundation Board of Directors and member of the Bishops’ High School Board of Governors. She also plays an active role in organising her mandir activities. She not only represents Indian women educators of our time, she is truly a woman of who wears many caps and wears them well.