Muraliganj High School, in Siliguri subdivision. Picture by Mehedi Hedaytullah
A retired BSNL telephone operator donated Rs 1.10 lakh to a school in Siliguri subdivision in mid-March to fund the education of meritorious but underprivileged children.
Nagendranath Das, a resident of Cooch Behar who retired in 2005, had kept aside the amount to donate to an educational institution. He had been looking for the right one.
The 65-year-old settled for Muraliganj High School, in Siliguri subdivision close to the border with North Dinajpur, after reading about the institution in a report published in The Telegraph in November 2013.
“I faced a lot of hardships during my childhood as I come from a very poor family. Ever since I retired, I wanted to do something so that underprivileged children, who were good in studies, could pursue higher education,” Das said.
He added that he had to struggle to complete a technical course in a polytechnic and get a government job. “I had struggled hard as a student and I am proud to say that I could give my son and daughter proper education. My daughter is a teacher at Dinhata College and my son teaches at a high school in Siliguri. But there are many parents with bright children who are helpless because of poverty,” said Das who had been posted in Darjeeling, Cooch Behar and Japaiguri.
Headmaster Samsul Alam said the amount would be kept as fixed deposit and the annual interest would be used to fund students.
Last year, Muraliganj High School was recommended by the Union ministry of drinking water and sanitation for maintenance of health standards. The institution received an award for cleanliness and hygiene. Unicef, in collaboration with the ministry, had made a documentary on the school and it was screened at a Saarc conference in Nepal last year.
The institution was established as a junior high school in 2000. In 2006, the first batch of students sat for Madhyamik and it became a higher secondary school in 2010. The institution, located in a tea garden belt, has 1,590 boys and girls, many of them children of workers in small tea gardens.
Das said he was very impressed with the school. “It is neat and clean and has gardens and fields that will help develop the minds of students. I am feeling very proud that I could help,” he said.
Samsul Alam said he was thankful to Das. “We are grateful that despite age-related problems, Das came all the way from Cooch Behar to donate the money. We had been trying to create a fund to help meritorious students from poor families and Nagendranath Das’s donation will help us a lot,” he said.
Das had to travel for more than 250km from Cooch Behar to reach the school.
“I and the other teachers also want to contribute to build up the fund that will be kept in a bank as fixed deposit. We would use the interest to help fund students every year,” the headmaster said.