Students participate in a dance programme at the farewell. Picture by Snehamoy Chakraborty
Nalhati, Dec. 31: Nine-year-old Runa got a rare gift from her primary school teachers on the last day of the year — a farewell.
A big meal awaited the 56 outgoing Class IV kids of Karimpur Primary School in Nadia. There was a farewell gift too — a pen. Runa Laila and her classmates dressed in their finest for the occasion.
This unusual gesture by the school was the idea of its headmaster, Dinabandhu Chowdhury. He thought a farewell would be the best way to “honour” the students who will join high school in a few days.
In a state where the school dropout rate between primary and high school is 58 per cent — well above the national average of 46 — it is perhaps a much-needed encouragement for children and their parents to stay with the school system.
“We have taught them for four years. We love them. They will leave primary school in a few days and will join high school. We thought we should do something for them. After all, we strengthened their foundations for four years,” headmaster Chowdhury said.
The 30 girls and 26 boys will hopefully join two high schools nearby — Nalhati Girls’ High School and Nalhati Hariprasad High School for Boys. Both are about 2km from Karimpur.
Runa Laila could not stop beaming today. “When I heard we would get a farewell, I was so happy. Today, when I came to school I felt like a grown-up.”
She said the “headmaster made us stand in a line and gave us pens. When I join high school, I will use this pen.”
Runa, whose father is a mason, said she had some idea that this farewell was a rare thing. “None of my friends in other schools has been given a farewell,” she said.
Subrata Roy, 61, who retired from the Karimpur school after teaching there for 35 years, said: “I have not heard of any farewell for Class IV students in my 35 years as a teacher. This is a very good move and it will help the students respect school and teachers.”
Teachers said the event made the kids feel they were special. “My students said they felt special. Today was their day,” a Bengali teacher said.
The district inspector of schools (primary), Swapan Majumder, praised the school. “I have worked in a number of districts. But this is the first time I have heard about a farewell for Class IV students. I congratulate the school for arranging such an event,” he said.
The students sang and danced — Runa participated in a dance programme with five of her classmates.
Then there was lunch for all the 179 students of the school — fried rice, chicken curry, vegetable curry and rasogollas.
The school’s budget was Rs 30,000, including contributions from the local community.
Teacher Sussana Hembram said: “We held a meeting with members of the ward education committee and the decision was taken. When the guardians came to know about it, they also came forward to help with money.”
Mir Raseul Haque, a member of the ward education committee, said: “The local Forward Bloc councillor Hasibul Rahman gave 45kg of chicken. Some guardians provided rice and others brought vegetables.”
“I felt very good when my daughter told me to go to her school today. The teachers welcomed my daughter and blessed her. They wished her luck in high school,” said Priyanka Das’s father Ratan, an egg seller.
Raja Ghosh, the chairman of district primary school council, said farewells should be “organised in other primary schools as well. It will make students love their school forever.”