When 45-year-old Kalimul Haque attended the Nepalipara Hindi High School in the Paschim Burdwan district of West Bengal a decade ago, he was faced with a challenging task.
“The school’s reputation was so great that not only were students leaving the facility faced with a bleak future, but I was cursed at my first meeting by a district senior education officer. That day I decided to do something for the school. ”
While in 2019 the Nepalipara Hindi High School in Labourhut with more than 3,600 students was selected as the best school in the state by the government of West Bengal, Haque, a doctor of geography, received the National Award on Saturday.
Today the school offers smart classes, a rooftop vegetable garden with hydroponics, water harvesting, vermicompost, and students preparing their own classroom materials under the guidance of teachers. From ten classrooms and one toilet in 2010, the school now has 57 classrooms and 24 toilets. Former students in grades five, six, and seven sat on the floor. Today the school has grades 11 and 12 with all streams.
“The development of the school had almost become my addiction. My family has supported me throughout. I’m glad I made it, ”said Haque, who has received multiple awards, including the state government’s Siksha Ratna Prize.
In North Bengal, Misha Ghosal (51), the headmistress of Dhanapati Toto Memorial High School in Totopara in the Alipurduar district, a home of primitive Toto tribes, has worked tirelessly for 11 years to make the school stand out. As a post-graduate in mathematics, she received the National Award on September 5th.
“Although I come from the Alipurduar district, I studied in Calcutta. When I was selected for the Headmaster’s Exam and was offered the school in the farthest corner, I was a bit scared. But then I took up the challenge and thought about doing something for the school and society, ”she said.
When she started school in 2009, only one student from the Toto community with only 1585 residents was able to overcome the Madhyamik hurdle (class X-board exam). This year the success rate is over 80 percent.
Totopara is a small and remote hamlet on the India-Bhutanese border and remains stranded during the monsoons. You have to cross seven rivers to reach the village. She turned things almost single-handedly for the school with 250 students.
“I worked hard to get the community’s trust first and started two hostels. The school was developed from state sponsored to state sponsored so that it would be financially sound. Now my goal is to improve the quality of education in the school so that students can find work, ”she said.
Rita Toto was the community’s first ever graduate in 2010.