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Plan to boost civic schools

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation has come up with a scheme under which reputable private schools will handhold or partner primary schools run by the civic body in their neighbourhood.

The aim is to make education more inclusive and improve the condition of the 260-odd CMC-run primary schools.

Under the programme, a private school will “adopt” a CMC primary school in the area, contributing to its improvement by training teachers, providing inputs on soft skills, organising extra-curricular events like sports and theatre, and other activities.

Senior students of the private school will have an active role to play in the functioning of the civic schools, by taking special classes and organising activities for them.

The project, being called “Kolkata Learning: Porchhi Porabo Shiksha Chhorabo”, is the brainchild of civic advisory committee member Derek O’Brien, said a CMC official.

“The idea behind the initiative is to create an atmosphere of inclusive learning in the city by linking private schools with CMC schools,” O’Brien told Metro.

Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee was reportedly “very enthusiastic” about the idea and gave it the go-ahead.

“We want to make civic schools a happier place for children. Just imagine what it will do to the confidence of the students of one of these schools if they are included in an annual play by the students of the partner school,” said O’Brien.

According to a recent survey conducted by CRY, the condition of the CMC schools is poor. None of the 31 schools surveyed has even basic facilities like a library or playground. Provisions for mid-day meals are “available” at only 14 schools and the infrastructure of almost all are “very poor”.

“Neither the ownership nor the management of the schools can be changed but private schools can help us make them more education and student friendly,” said O’Brien.

The corporation has invited the principals of 75 top schools to the Town Hall on Thursday to brief them about the initiative. Several schools, including Modern High School for Girls, Julian Day School and some of the Loreto schools have already confirmed participation.

Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, mayoral council member (education) Shashi Panja, chairman Satchidananda Banerjee and deputy mayor Farzana Alam will be present at the session along with O’Brien.

“I am really happy that we have taken up this initiative on the sixth-month anniversary of our taking charge of the civic body,” said Panja.

Professor of education at the University of Notre Dame, Tamaghna Chattopadhyay, will also contribute to the project. He will conduct a session on inclusive education for representatives of the partner schools in February.

The programme will start with 10 schools and be expanded later.

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