Some schools and colleges in Nagercoil are more than 150 years old, like Scott Christian College, built by the foreign missionaries. European missionaries, in the 19th century and early 20th century played a major role in imparting education to the people of the town and district.

The Protestant Missionaries were the first to introduce English Education, which was part and parcel of the then Travancore State. The founder of the English School in the erstwhile Travancore State was Rev. William Tobias RingleTaube a native of Prussia and a man of great force and character. He came to the State in 1806 and then onwards, he devoted his whole energy to evangelistic work and wherever he went, he carried with him the mission of English education. He was incessantly preaching and teaching and he established many schools for poor children, Christians as well as non-Christians.

One of the oldest institutions, Sethu Lakshmi Bai (S.L.B) Higher Secondary School is situated in the heart of the town. It has a sprawling campus - one of the biggest in India - with multiple play grounds, huge and airy class rooms etc. It is named after the Travancore queen Rani Sethu Lakshmi Bai.

Educational institutions include a number of private Engineering colleges, the Government-run Kanyakumari Medical College (at Nagercoil), Polytechnic colleges and Arts and Science Colleges. As in neighbouring Kerala, women's education and career-development are given importance, almost on par with men by all communities, especially among the christians.

Several Colleges are run by Christian denominations and includes the CSI Institute of Technology, Scott Christian College (Arts and Sciences College, with some specialised departments), Holy Cross College for Women, Women's Christian College, St. Xavier's Catholic College of Engineering, St. Xavier's Catholic College of Nursing (Tamil Nadu's first Catholic diocesan nursing college), etc.

The South Travancore Hindu College and Sivanthi Aditanar College in the town are Hindu Arts and Sciences colleges. The Noorul Islam College of Engineering at Kumaracoil, near the town, is a noted institution for its facilities and management education programs.
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