Teacher’s Day celebrations may be over in most schools, but former students of one south Calcutta institution are saying “To Sir (and Madam), with love” through an initiative that goes beyond the ritualistic annual tribute.
The alumni association of South Point School, crowned School of the Year at The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence, has started a Care Wing that extends emotional, medical and financial support to retired teachers. The association’s first fund-raising effort, a dinner at Tolly Club, is slated for Saturday.
“The idea was mooted in April during a medical camp for teachers conducted by ex-Pointer doctors,” said Krishna Damani, a member of the South Point Ex-Students’ Association (ASPEXS). Retired teachers had been invited to the camp. “It was during this interaction that we realised how helpless many of them were.”
Damani may have been speaking for scores of retired teachers whose children have left home for academic and professional pursuits and not returned because the city doesn’t offer them enough opportunities.
After an appeal on the ASPEXS website elicited a good response, the association set about shortlisting the neediest among the 140 teachers who were initially contacted. “We chose those who were staying alone or were childless,” said Nivedita Roy Burman, from the 1984 batch.
A reunion was then held and every teacher assigned a caregiver. “In most cases, the problem is of loneliness. The caregivers visit the teachers regularly. In case of medical emergencies, they escort them to the doctor,” she added.
The renewed bonding is producing beautiful moments. One teacher who had not stepped out of home for eight years recently went to South City Mall with an ex-student. “Students also come to our home so that my husband gets to speak to someone every day,” said Nandita Dasgupta, a former English teacher whose husband Somesh, a history teacher, is now confined to the wheelchair.
“The way they are standing by us shows that they have learnt bigger lessons of life than what was taught in class.”