Kalimul Haque is the principal of the Nepalipara Hindi School in Durgapur, West Burdwan, while Misha Ghosal is the principal of the Dhanapati Toto Memorial High School in Alipurduars Totopara.
Had it not been for Haque, the nondescript Durgapur School would not have the enviable infrastructure it has today. The school has a central audio system, a vegetable garden on the roof, hydroponics, a rainwater harvesting system, a vermicompost facility, disposal of solid and liquid waste, a well-tended dining room, a computer laboratory with 30 machines and 500 seats auditorium and an art gallery.
At Haque’s initiative, key employees also train teachers. Around 40% of the funds for these projects were raised through crowdfunding, with contributions from business people, guardians, teachers and the school board. The school, with 3,625 students, has received several district-level awards.
“I am very proud that my name is on the list of winners for this year’s National Awards for Teachers. The key to the success of the school, however, is teamwork. I will dedicate this award to those who support the school, the teachers, the students and students have helped members of the management committee, “a humble Haque told TOI.
In Alipurduar, Ghosal entered the Toto School in 2009. At that time only a student of the primitive tribe could overcome the Madhyamik hurdle. This year the success rate of students from the community is over 80%. She turned almost single-handedly on things for the school, which remains stranded every monsoon along with the entire Totopara settlement. “My responsibility as a teacher has increased after I was named for this award,” she said.
Totopara is a small hamlet in the Madarihat Block along the Indian-Bhutanese border. You have to cross seven rivers to reach the village, the most famous of which is the Howrikhola. Flash floods are common in these rivers during the monsoons.