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Ex-French first lady in college kick-off

Mathurapur (South 24-Parganas) Aug. 19: Danielle, wife of former French President Francois Mitterrand, will be here on September 24 to inaugurate a technical college.

The institute here, 55 km from Calcutta, meant for children from economically weak families has been built by Mass Education, an NGO. The college has already obtained affiliation to the West Bengal State Council of Technical Education and the Netaji Subhas Open University.

“Danielle Mitterrand is one of our patrons and she has accepted the invitation to inaugurate the college. We chose September 24 as the auspicious day because we will complete 25 years of service to humanity that day,” said Sukumar Singh, the secretary of the NGO.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has also been invited to the opening, he added.

Danielle is likely to stay in Mathurapur for four days from September 24. During the stay, she is scheduled to visit parts of the Sunderbans and some of the other centres of the NGO, including one in Mograhat.

Destitute children are given primary education and vocational training at the Mograhat centre.

“I know Danielle for about two decades. She runs a foundation in her own name that helps organisations like ours’,” said Singh.

The college will initially offer six-month certificate courses in automobile technology, electrical wiring and winding, repair of home appliances, tailoring and fashion designing, computer science, midwifery and training for teachers and nurses.

The course fees, apart from the admission fee and examination fee, range between Rs 2,400 and Rs 3,000. The amount is payable in two instalments and is according to guidelines laid down by the state council of technical education and the Netaji Subhas Open University, said Singh.

“We will offer 50 per cent of the course fee as scholarship to needy students,” Singh said. “Our main objective is to provide technical education to the children of economically weaker sections but we will also impart training to unemployed youths. A student from a very poor family can study free of cost,” he added.

Constructed on 15 bighas at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore, the college will provide hostel facility and food for Rs 30 per day.

Another Rs 2.5 crore will be spent on an auditorium, guardians’ quarters and laboratories.

“Our aim is to impart training in such a manner that after passing out, students get enough scope for employment,” said Singh.

The huge funds for the project, an NGO official said, were pooled in from several sources, including “collection and disposal of solid waste generated in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation area”.

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