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Media Coverage 

School lost, boon found

By Asim Pramanik, The Statesman, 5 Sep 2009

BEHRAMPORE (West Bengal), 4 SEPT 2009: A primary school set up by an NGO, has come as a boon for the children of the erosion-hit villages along the Padma embankments in Jalangi, Murshidabad. Most of children come from families of landless peasants, who either died of starvation or lost their homestead to the eroding Padma waters in the past few years.

The primary school run by a Delhi-based NGO, Charity Alliance at Uttarpara village of Ghoshpara gram panchayat area in Jalangi block, opened with an enrolment of 170 students, mostly coming from Muslim minority families.

Despite the services rendered by several ICDS centres in Jalangi, the institute with a pre-school provision assumes importance because many local schools were either shifted or devoured by the rampaging Padma, dimming the academic prospects of the children from the displaced families.

A primary school building at Paraspur, which also served as a settlement for victims of erosion, was washed away by the ravaging waters of the Padma a few years ago. The government had set up another school, after the demolition of this one, at Raipara, several km away from its old site. As a result, the children of Paraspur were losing out on an opportunity to study, distance being a factor in these areas, said a local human rights activist.

At the time of a calamity, the schools become homes for the villagers, but later the schools are often relocated elsewhere, and the schoolkids stand sufferers, the activist added.

Learning of starvation deaths in Jalangi from a report published in The Statesman, the NGO started operating in the erosion-hit villages and gave away relief materials among the victim families and kin of the hunger-death victims. The NGO officials informed that their school would impart cost-free education to the needy kids belonging to erosion-hit families while the children of solvent parents would have to pay a maximum fee of rupees sixty per month.

The school is funded by Zakat, a fund accumulated from donations made by Muslims (2.5 per cent of their savings) as a compulsory ritual. The teachers would be paid from donation and the collection of students' nominal fees. “We expect to impart quality education to the poor but meritorious students, because we have a faculty comprising graduate, honours graduate and post graduate teachers,” said Mr Golam Kibria, one of the chief officials of the school. Several erosion-hit villages like Taltoli, Paraspur, Raipara, Dayarampur, Muradpur, Uttar and Dakshin Ghoshpara would benefit from the Alliance School, Mr Kibria claimed. Many of the locals, however, had a different view. They voiced the need to have similar schools at Padma islands where erosion victims were rehabilitated.

(Source: The Statesman, Kolkata, 5 Sept. 2009)


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