The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Moo march in school

Taherpur (Nadia), July 22: Eight cows walked into the courtyard of a girls’ high school here as the parents of all 28 students, who appeared in this year’s higher secondary examination but failed, herded the cattle into the compound as a mark of protest.

Eta gorur khoar (This is a cowshed)’; Ekhane kono porikathamo nei (There isn’t any infrastructure here)’; ‘Ekhane amrai porabo (We will teach here),’ read the placards hung around the animals’ necks.

The Taherpur Higher Secondary Girls’ School, about 75 km from Calcutta, got approval to teach HS students in 2000.

“Even after we got approval, we had a dearth of teachers, especially in English. The present lot, which failed, suffered miserably due to a lack of teachers,” said assistant headmistress Rita Bhattacharjee.

“I scored second-division marks in my secondary examination and obtained 50 per cent in English. I received less than 25 per cent in the HS examination,” said Soma Das, one of the 28 girls among those who turned up to protest along with the cows.

“The government is responsible for the situation our daughters are facing. We had requested the school authorities to hire teachers if the education department delayed appointing them but they told us it was not possible,” said Debi Das, a parent.

“Education has become a tool in the hands of politicians. They bother with schools in large urban settlements and not small towns like ours. Even though higher education minister Satya Sadhan Chakraborty is an MLA from our district, no attention is paid to us,” she said.

Jhantu Das, the father of an unsuccessful candidate and a shop owner in Taherpur market, said the parents were seriously thinking of lodging a protest with the higher secondary council.

Surrounded by the parents, students and the cows on the small courtyard in front of the two-storey school building, Bhattacharjee tried to reason. She would ask the council to re-examine the papers, Bhattacharjee said. She heard jeers and moos in response.

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