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Teacher who never took salary & leave

Burdwan, Feb. 28: On the first of every month, he gets Rs 10,000 as salary. But he takes home nothing.

For the past 10 years, Gangadhar Pal has been donating the money to the panchayat-run school where he has been teaching since 2003.

Since Pal joined Kutubpur Madhyamik Shiksha Kendra in Burdwan’s Kalna, he has taken only a day’s leave — for his mother’s eye surgery in 2007.

A two-storeyed building housing seven classrooms was built primarily with the money he donated for the development of the school, which used to run from an anganwadi centre initially.

The school in Burdwan’s Kalna has decided to felicitate Pal, 55, on Poila Boishak, which falls on April 15.

An MA in Bengali, Pal is a bachelor who lives with his mother in Nadia’s Tehatta, from where he rides 3km to the school on his cycle. His three brothers live separately.

Asked how he ran his family, Pal said he cultivated paddy on the three-bigha plot his father left behind.

“I had to toil for my education. My father used to work on another person’s farmland then. The day I joined the school, I decided to donate my salary for the education of poor children. I am happy the school now has its own building with bathrooms and drinking water facilities,” he said.

The district-level officer of the Madhyamik Shiksha Kendra, Kajal Roy, said today: “We are thinking of recommend Pal’s name for the President’s award.”

Pal, who gave private tuition before joining the school, leads a simple life, he said. “I go to school on a cycle every day and cook food myself at home.”

Asked about the teacher, the secretary of the school managing committee, Sheikh Samser Ali, said: “His sacrifice, sincerity and dedication are enviable. When he joined, there were only 62 students. We had only Classes V and VI and used to operate from an anganwadi centre.”

The school building was constructed in 2005. It now has 304 students in Classes V to VIII. The school authorities said efforts were on to start Classes IX and X.

Villagers in Kalna said the young and old respected Pal alike for his contribution to the school.

Gopal Chandra Pal, a labourer whose daughter Madhuri studies in Class V, said: “I admitted my daughter to the school after coming to know about Gangadharbabu. He buys books and other study material from the fund created with his accumulated salary. All of us respect him a lot.”