Historical view of education and schools in Saligao

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Prior to the Portuguese conquest of Goa in 1510, Goan villages had schools that were known as patshalas.  According to George Moraes, “There was no village but had a school, be it in the shade of a grove or in the porch of the temple where the children were taught the three R’s.” The teachers were known as Sinai or Xenney or Shenvi Mama. (In Saligao we had Sinai Salgaokars – remember Xinn-vaddo in Mudd’davaddi). The Sinais would teach in the entrance hall of the temples, big residential houses and even verandahs of comunidade houses. The medium of instruction was Konkani, the native language of Goans, and it was written in the Alkannadi script. Marathi was used in Goa only in the late fifteenth century when the Sultan of Bijapur ruled Goa. The Sultan even recognized Konkani as the official language of the territory [Coutinho 1987 : 153].  Besides the patshalas, there were agraharas, matas, brahmapuris and gurukalas – institutions located in the principal centres where education of an advanced type was disseminated in all branches of knowledge and finally completed at Vidyashalas.

The agraharas were a kind of  “studium generale”, where Arts, Sciences and Religion were taught. Other subjects like music, rhetoric, mathematics, logic, politics, etc, also found a place in these institutes. Brahmapuris were Brahmin Colonies established near the towns, for the purpose of running educational institutions. They were meeting places of cultured Brahmins well versed in the Vedas, Puranas, Smritis, etc. Matas or monasteries taught religion and sacred art. The Portuguese conquest (1510) sounded the death knell of the Konkani educational institutions. The Portuguese carried on a planned and systematic annihilation of the Goan mother tongue and the educational institutions that fostered the growth and development of Konkani, the language of Goa.  According to T B Cunha, from the very beginning all Konkani schools were closed to make place for the Christian languages, Latin and Portuguese.

After the Portuguese conquest, as the number of Christians increased, churches sprang up everywhere with a parochial school, successor to the former patshalas. These came into existence as a result of a decree of John III, King of Portugal, dated 8 March 1546. The purpose of these schools, financed and supported by village communities, was to teach Christian doctrine, impart moral instruction and cultivate artistic tastes in the students. The teachers were required to teach the students reading and writing so as to facilitate their reading of the catechism books. The medium of instruction in these schools was compulsorily Portuguese but the local language was also used, as the teachers were not well versed in Portuguese. The attitude of the Portuguese Government towards the Goan language changed remarkably in the latter half of the sixteenth century as it realized that persuasion rather than force was necessary to facilitate the process of conversion and promotion of Christianity in Goa. Persuasion meant that the Portuguese give up their antagonism to Konkani of the indigenous culture.  Priests posted in parishes had to be conversant in Konkani.  This period witnessed a revival of Konkani, albeit for a short time. (vide, BOTELHO, Afonso, Primary Education and Language in Goa, Colonial Legacy and Post-Colonial Conflicts; VARDE, Dr P S, ‘History of Education in Goa from 1510 to the Present Day).

Saligao, though not a large village, having an area of only 3137.7 hectares and a population not exceeding 5,000, has been an important educational centre from the earliest times, situated as it is in the middle of eight surrounding villages easily accessible by road. It has maintained that tradition unimpaired down to modern times as is evident from the following brief survey, mainly of private schools, founded by individuals. Many of these schools became extinct with the retirement or demise of the founder, dependent as they were on individual resources and animated with selfless spirit for the uplift of the people of the village. The Parish School, the pioneering educational effort of every village and the ‘Government Primary School’, which later supplemented the Parish School, are not included in the survey, the reason being that, though their contribution to the educational development has been appreciated, the review covers only the private educational effort, which constitutes the fame of Saligao.

Latin school

Padre Mestre Andre Soares’ School

Fr. Andre Soares from Salem, Salvador do Mundo, was authorised by provision dated 26-08-1751 to teach Latin in his school located in Saligao. In this school many priests and lay people studied earlier (vide ‘The Parish of Salvador do Mundo de Sirula, Bardez,  Historico-Archaeological Sketch Part II by Fr. Francis Xavier Gomes Catao) .

Latin and Portuguese schools

Latinidade and Portuguese School for boys conducted by Fr Lazaro de Souza was one of the first four Government Public Schools in Goa for teaching Latin and Lyceum classes, the others being in Panjim, Margao and Mapuca. It owed its existence to Jose da Gama, who generously offered free plots on which a large building was erected in Cotula. This building has since been demolished and private houses built there. The primary classes in Portuguese were conducted by Antoninho Cordeiro in 1900, and the huge building in a dilapidated condition was used by the boys for play and games of their own making. This school was the alma mater of many eminent sons of Bardez, including those from Saligao, who later had distinguished careers in Goa and in Europe – among them was Leopoldo da Gama from Saligao, a brilliant journalist and writer.

The subsequent Latin and Portuguese Schools were, in chronological order, those directed by Luis Fernandes; Fr Agostinho Pereira with Carolina Fernandes, both of Grande Morodd, the latter school was subsequently taken over and run by Rev. Bachelor Jose da Vitoria Lobo and Francisco Marques in Pequeno Morodd; by Fr. Caetano Maria Anacleto Rodrigues, in Cotula, who also trained the pupils in choir singing; and by Fr Lucardinho de Souza, in Grande Morodd.

Portuguese mixed primary schools

The earliest of such schools was in Grande Morodd opened about the year 1885 and was run by Carolina Fernandes and Fr. Constâncio Pereira, whom Albertina Noronha joined later, and was continued until 1910. The schools that came later were those conducted by Hortencia Cordeiro, in Molebhatt; by Fr Caetano Filipe de Souza (Dungo Patiu), in Nigvaddo, in Arrarim; and by  Filomena de Souza (Bekeriguer), in Mudd’davaddi. Naturally, these schools do not exist anymore, as Goa is now an independent state of India.

Music schools

In the olden days in Saligao, a boy’s education was not regarded as complete unless he had attended a music school. Indeed, music was the soul of Saligao and the village has produced many famous composers, pianists and musicians emerging from the Parish School as well as from the private schools of Jose Luis Rodrigues, in Cotula; of Joao de Souza (Cud’do Mistri); of Francisco Antonio de Souza, in Nigvaddo; of Miguel Archanjo Remedios (Tabravaddo) at St. Anne’s Chapel; of Santana Gabriel Vaz, at Mudd’davaddi; and of Roberto Saldanha, at Sonarbhatt. The Parish School has in recent years suffered a set-back and at present it exists in name only. We should, therefore, strive to revive the past glory and develop it on modern lines by attracting talent. The musical heritage of the village must be maintained.

Domestic Arts schools

In Saligao, the education of girls has always kept pace with that of the boys,  in more ways than one: the artistic counterpart for the girls being needle-work, embroidery, dress-making, dancing and music. In these schools the elements of reading and writing were also taught but the emphasis was on the domestic arts. The earliest and most famous of these schools, Natu Noronha School, was at Grande Morodd and was attended by girls from different villages. It had limited boarding facilities in the owner’s residential house. Other schools to come on the scene were those managed by Heroina de Souza at Nigvaddo; by Eufemiana Almeida at Arrarim, run subsequently by her son Vincent Almeida; the Adru school at Salmona; and, the Athaide Tailoring College at Tabravaddo. The last schools in this chain were the schools run by Mrs Saldanha, Mary Souza Rodrigues and Eslinda de Souza, who conducted combined classes for dress-making and painting, all of which were in Cotula.  With the establishment and progress of Domestic Science as a regular course of studies in the Arts Colleges, the local private schools found it difficult to sustain themselves.

English schools

The adventurous spirit of the villagers of Saligao found them at the forefront of the tide of emigration. At the same time, educational traditions were not only maintained but also largely encouraged by them. This was evident from the number of English schools opened in the village regardless of financial considerations.

Anglo-Portuguese school

This was the first school founded in 1894 by Francisco Xavier de Mendonça and Diogo Miguel de Souza, assisted by Leopoldina Pinto.  It was in Cotula and was short-lived.  It was, however, a good start in the right direction.

 St. Mary’s School

This was the earliest of the established English schools for boys and the second in Goa, the first being that of Fr Lyons at Arpora. It was founded in 1897 by Jose Trindade Celidonio and organized by Antonio Jose Sequeira, a born educationist, with the able cooperation of Aleluia Pinto and Caetano Filipe Pinto. Under the dynamic personality and leadership of Headmaster, Josinho Sequeira, the school developed rapidly and within a year it rose from the primary to the middle school classes, and opened a branch, providing similar educational facilities for girls. The boys’ school was located in Salmona and the girls’ branch in Arrarim, both in private, residential buildings. They included boarding establishments in 1900 with a large number of boarders coming from all parts of Goa and even from British India.

The sporting, dramatic and other activities of these two schools were widely known, and enlivened the village scene considerably. Those who attended these schools attest that the teaching imparted was good, the discipline firm and the moral conduct high. The promise of a greater future held out by these schools was cut short by the untimely death of the headmaster in 1905.  Thereafter the school was managed by Caetano Filipe Pinto until 1915, when it was taken over by Felisberto Sequeira, the nephew of the headmaster, who managed it until 1919, when it was closed down.

St. Mary’s Girls’ School

This school was founded by the Headmaster, Josinho Sequeira, in 1900 and was a branch school for the education of girls, with boarding facilities. It was the first English school for girls in Goa, with Etelvina de Melo in charge. She was assisted by Ernestina de Souza for needle-work. Subsequently Etelvina ran it independently as her own concern, and lastly it was conducted with limited activity in her own private residence when it was finally handed over to her niece, Mother Bridget Sequeira, founder of the Society of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King (headquartered in Karachi).

Mater Dei Institution

This institution was founded in 1909 by Anacleto F X Lobo, Manuel Antonio Mendonça and Joao Francisco Marcelo Fernandes, who together shared the responsibilities and expenses of the institution at the beginning.  Considering his distinction of college education, Anacleto Lobo was made the principal. Joao Fernandes dissociated himself after a short period. Manuel Mendonça had to leave for East Africa in 1911, but returned to the institution in 1914.  Both Anacleto Lobo and Manuel Mendonça were previously on the staff of St. Mary’s School – they had been teaching there from the early age of 20, until they founded the Mater Dei Institution. With a small batch of 25 students the institution was run in private residences first in Cotula and then in Arrarim until its own building was completed in 1925, due largely to the untiring efforts on the part of Manuel Mendonça. It is an imposing structure situated in Arrarim (Bairo Alto), facing the busy Saligao-Calangute road. It has boarding accommodation and a spacious playground. It was originally a boys’ school with boarding facilities but was subsequently converted into a co-educational school, being the first such school in Goa. The school ran as a middle school till 1917, when it was raised to a Secondary High School and recognised by  Bombay University.

This was the first school in Goa to be officially recognised as a centre for scouting by the Lisbon Scout Association in 1926 – Manuel Mendonca was the Scout Master. It was also a recognised centre for the Youth League. Mendonça unfortunately died in the year 1929 at the age of 48. He was regarded by many as the life and soul of the school and his untimely death was a blow to Mater Dei and to Anacleto Lobo personally.

Mater Dei Institution. Picture courtesy Frederick Noronha

Mater Dei Institution. Picture courtesy Frederick Noronha

One cannot but pay tribute to Anacleto Lobo for his continuous service for over 54 years to the cause of education in general and the uplift of the people of Saligao in particular. After his death in 1963, Mater Dei was run by the late  Inez Lobo and her three daughters Cleta, Edna and Yvette who are fully qualified and accomplished in the teaching profession, The eldest, Cleta Lobo, B.A.(Hons), M.Ed., is the Principal.  She was specially selected for the award of a Fellowship abroad in  Environmental Education  and Modern Contemporary Dance and Drama and has acquired first-hand knowledge of education methods and trends in general, in the United Kingdom and Germany. She has been ably assisted by her sister Edna, while Yvette settled in Mumbai after marriage. Cleta and Edna have established Mater Dei Institution under the ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) Delhi Board in our days.

Colegio Mae de Deus

 Colegio Mae de Deus was started as a mixed school by Gabriel da Costa (originally from Curtorim) at Mollebhatt in 1932 and continued its classes until it joined hands with the new St. Mary’s School opened in 1934 and later amalgamated with a new school under the aegis of the Saligao Union of Bombay in 1946.

 St. Mary’s School

 This school was started by Marillia Abreu and two others as a mixed school in 1934 in Arrarim and it was taken over by the Saligao Union of Bombay in 1946.  I joined this school in the Preparatory class in 1947, and studied there for just over a year. This school had no connection with the old St. Mary’s Girls School run by Etelvina de Melo.

Saligao Union School

This school amalgamated the two preceding schools and was established in 1946 by the efforts of the Saligao Union of Bombay under whose direction it was run and by whom it was financed for the uplift of the sons and daughters of the village. Its Headmaster was F Valles, M.A. L.L.B.  It had seven classes and was housed in a private residence in Arrarim.  [I was introduced to this school in the academic year 1948-49 before joining Mater Dei in 1949-1950 until I finished my SSC in 1957 and joined the seminary in the academic year 1957-58.]  The Union’s objective was to construct a wooden building for the school, which did not materialise, and it was soon closed down.

Lourdes Convent High School

Lourdes Convent was opened in 1946 by the Congregation of the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King (FMCK), which has its Mother-house in Karachi. This school has taken the place of the old St. Mary’s School that was conducted by Etelvina de Melo, the aunt of Mother Bridget, the founder of the FMCK. The name was changed to Lourdes Convent, as the Congregation had another school named St. Mary’s elsewhere. Mother Bridget came along with three FMCK Sisters to Cotula in 1946 and started the Lourdes Convent High School in the same year. Sister Christine Mascarenhas was its first Headmistress. She was fully qualified to manage the school, located in a private mansion in Cotula, with 30 pupils on board. The Headmistress set to work with great earnestness to put the school on a firm footing. She had to face several setbacks and overcome many obstacles. No sooner was one problem settled than another reared its head. However, Sr Christine, with indomitable courage, worked with might and main to establish a first-rate school. After some years the school was shifted from Cotula to other private residences in Arrarim. Sr Christine’s efforts were finally rewarded. Not only did Bombay University give full recognition to the School, but praised it too, for its good discipline and its all-round excellence.

The school prospered in Sr Christine’s capable hands. The Matriculation results during her term of office almost always had a success rate of one hundred percent. After working for Lourdes Convent for 14 years, Sr Christine had to return to Pakistan in 1960 and Sr Francesca took over the running of the school. She also maintained a high standard. In 1963, Sr Veronica Coelho, who had been Sr Christine’s right hand, was appointed Headmistress.

By then Lourdes Convent had its own modern one-storied structure amidst pleasant surroundings on the hill of Donvaddo bordering Sonarbhatt.  It was constructed in three stages and finally completed in 1968. The school has a chapel, boarding accommodation and a residential section for Sisters in the same building and a social wing for the science laboratory. In front of the structure is a spacious compound for children’s games, exercises, drill and sports. The School was affiliated to the University of Bombay in 1951. The School is noted for its varied extra-curricular activities.

Lourdes Convent High School. Picture courtesy Frederick Noronha

Lourdes Convent High School. Picture courtesy Frederick Noronha

Sr Veronica was also District Commissioner of Girl Guides for Bardez.  Sr Adelaide Pais succeeded Sr Veronica in 1976 as Headmistress. The Primary section was run by Sr Livinia Diniz. The ever-smiling Sr Lily is at present the dynamic Headmistress of the Higher Secondary section of the school.

The Seminary

The “Seminario de Nossa Senhora”, the minor Seminary of Our Lady – under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Goa-Damao – is situated on the Saligao-Pilerne Hill. The gateway to the village of Saligao lies at its foot. From the premises one has a veritable grandstand view of the Arabian Sea, rivers, the towns of Goa, historical sites and of course Saligao and surrounding villages. 

Dom Testonio Vieira do Castro, the then Patriarch of Goa, selected the site and proposed to raise the seminary there. The extensive plan of the imposing structure was completed in many phases and it was inaugurated by Cardinal Cerejeira from Lisbon on 6 December, 1952. It is a fitting culmination to the name and fame of Saligao as the educational centre for the vocation of priesthood in Goa. The various Rectors of this Seminary (who were Superiors of a number of priests from Saligao, who studied in the Seminary of Our Lady) are as follows:

  1. Msgr. Altino Ribeiro de Santana, from Socorro (1953-1955)
  2. Msgr. Anacleto Carmo da Silva from Cansaulim (1956)
  3. Msgr. Raul Nicolau Gonsalves, from Bambolim (1956-1962)
  4. Msgr. Alfredo dos Augustias Mesquita, from Benaulim (1962-1974)
  5. Rev. Fr. Joanito Cromacio Macarenhas, from Cuncolim (1974-1983)
  6. Rev. Fr. Manuel Antonio Pinto do Rosario, from Socorro (1983-1993)
  7. Rev. Fr. Manuel Pascoal Gomes, from Benaulim (1993-2002)
  8. Rev. Fr. Francisco Avinash Rebelo, from Margao (2002- ).

 Footnote: A new international school has come up at Grande Morodd recently.


  • Mendonça, Luis, Historical Survey of Education and Schools in Saligao, in Souvenir (1873-1973) Mae de Deus Church, 1973.
  • Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King (1937-1987), 1987, p.92;
  • Sursum, From Roots to Fruits  Vol. I – Snippets of Saligao-Pilerne Seminary by Manuel P Gomes, pp 50-51, 2002.
  • Sursum, From Roots to Fruits Vol.II – Nostalgic Memoirs of  Saligao-Pilerne Seminary… Marching towards a challenging future, Editor Manuel P Gomes, pp. 14-15.
  •  Some extracts taken from Saligao Union, Bombay. Saligao, Golden Jubilee of Saligao Union, Bombay (1936-1986)

8 comments on Historical view of education and schools in Saligao

  • Coburn Machado

    Dear Sir!

    I’m very impressed by the way you have manage to write this book. You happen to mention my family house and My grand father-Doctor Antonio Menino Machado’s name with respect and grace. Iwould Like a copy of this. Is it available in physical form anywhere. i would be great ful if you can help.

    Coburn Machado.

  • Fr Nascimento Mascarenhas

    Dear Coburn,
    Thank you very much for your comments. Nice to know that you are the grand-son of Dr. A. M. Machado. I have not written the book on saligao as yet.
    Personally I knew your grand-father Dr. Antonio Menino Machado. He was a friend of our family at Tabravaddo- Mollebhatt in Saligao. He even raised the wedding toast of my brother Michael & Lina Mascarenhas, fifty-one years back. In short, your grand-father was a gentleman to the core.
    A meticulous and erudite church historian priest the late Monsenhor Canon Francisco Xavier Gomes Catao,from Mapusa, did make a reference in the Souvenir of Saligao Church in 1973, (the first centenaryof Mae de Deus Church) regarding the chapel at the Hospital Ave Maria founded by your garnd-father at Grande Morod ( Vhoddlem Morod) in 1934. Mons Gomes Catao makes a special mention about the first mass celebrated in that hospital chapel in 1952.
    This Souvenir is available with some people in Saligao. I read about it in one of the libraries many years back and scribbled some notes. Regarding the date of the foundation of the hospital, I was told about it by your aunt married to Mr. Adolph Mendonca from Cotula/Mumbai. I don’t remember her name at the moment. This date of the foundation of the hospital is not given in the Saligao Church Souvenir ( 1873-1973). But I am very far away from Saligao and due to my age and sickness am unable to travel there.
    By the way where are you staying ? I have kept you in my prayers.
    God bless you and yours. fr. nascimento mascarenhas

  • Higino Miranda

    Respectful Sr. Padre,
    Another nice way to communicate with you.
    Well, today being Thursday, I’m getting ready for the week-end.
    This is to inform you that you have got my thoughts carried away to the place I call — SERENE – SCENIC – SALIGAO.
    Honestly, the names of Patru (I very clearly remember him sitting on his chair behind the counter in his bar) whenever we arrived from Margao, Tipri – well, the lady and her brother too, besides visiting their shop in Khotla, they also lived right in front of my Grand Parents house in Grande Morod, also Mahdeo the barber who never charged us whenever we went over.
    What inspired me to drop these lines (besides communicating with you via E-Mail) is because I read the communication of Coburn Machado and your response to him. Like me, Coburn too is eager to have information of Saligao. I remember passing his grand house while on our way to the Chappel, and at times also scooping and sneeking through his Grand father’s hospital. I was even priveledged to be taken to his house to attend the wedding of Sr. Francisco (Dr. Menino’s son) Could be Couburn’s father or uncle.
    But nevertheless, the word ” Saligao ” does have a big impact on me. Even at times when I meet with some one from Saligao, I start going down Memory Lane.
    VIVA SALIGAO. (A grandson from this place)

  • Fr Nascimento Mascarenhas

    Dear Higinio,
    if my article brought nostalgic moments of your young life in Saligao, praise be God. That is the sole purpose of my writing of the past for youngsters of to-day who will shoulder responsibilities of the affairs in Saligao in the years to come. Thank you very much for your coments. God bless you and your family. fr. nascimento mascarenhas.

  • Sabino Noronha

    I am looking for an English translation of a book- subsidios para a historia de chorao- written by Francisco Xavier Gomes Catao.
    I am from Choroa but now reside in Toronto Canada
    Please help

  • Coburn Machado

    Hi Father Nascimento,
    I just happened to look up the blog and saw that you had replied to my comments about a year back. I pray that you are in the pink of health and faring well.
    thank you for your kind words on my grand father, I never really had the chance to meet him but a little bit from everywhere tells me he was a very respectable doctor in Saligao. Please do let me know where exactly you are based as I would love to drop in and meet you and share with you recent pictures of Saligao…

    looking forward to hearing from you
    Coburn de Machado

  • Coburn Machado

    hi Higinio,

    Francisco Machado is my dad… the elder son of Dr. Atonio Machado.
    Are you from Grande Morode itself and where did you live… I have just started visiting Grand Morode after about 25 years to restore the lovely house we all have fond memories of…. A lot has changed in Saligao and very little of the old place still remains scenic and serene…
    Coburn de Machado

  • Bernice D’Souza, student of Carmel Higher Secondary School, Nuvem( Class XII), scored 91 % marks in the Art Stream, in the examimation conducted by the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education( GBSHSE), the results of which were declared on Tuesday, 22nd May, 2012. She is the topper at Carmel’s and ranked second in Goa.
    Daughter of Daniel F.D’Souza, writer and author of number of books in Konkani from Saligao/Vasco-da-Gama and of Victoria D’Souza, Headmistress of Rosary Secondary School, Navelim, Bernice will be pursuing her further studies at St. Xavier’s College, Mapusa, specializing in Economics( major).

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