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The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2014

Sukanta Chaudhuri, the chairman of The Telegraph Education Foundation, made an appeal — at the 19th edition of Peerless presents The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence, in association with Parle-G and powered by Adamas University — not to make this an annual ritual to come and be moved and inspired and go back home and postpone the experience to next year. “The number of people who tell us how they are moved and inspired by the ceremony does not match the individual donations we receive. We would like to see more of a tally between the two,” said Chaudhuri.

The Addlife Caring Minds Award For A School That Cares was jointly won by Ahead and Khelaghar. Situated near Lake Gardens, Ahead works with children with disabilities and their families, using theatre, music, art and crafts. “This is our first time here and most of the candidates came up from the grassroots, which goes to show how precise the organisers have been in reaching out to people who aren’t people with connections or strong economic backgrounds. It is both humbling and motivating. It raises the bar for us and will make us work harder,” said Asesh Banerjee Choudhury (in picture), the founder and president of Ahead, after receiving the award from Minu Budhia.

S.M. Datta of Peerless Group handed over The Radhashyam Roy Memorial Award for An Outstanding Educationist to Rita Bibra, the secretary-general of Vidya Mandir Society. Bibra feels “adminis-tration is a tough job, you can’t get emotional or partisan”. Datta, who attended the awards for the first time, found it a moving experience. “My faith in India is stronger today,” he said.

Sumedha Saha of Class VIII, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, is battling cancer but that hasn’t dampened her spirit. She received The Surrendra Paul Memorial Award for Courage. “I had to fight on because I could not see my mother crying,” said the young girl after receiving the certificate from Anuradha Koirala, who works against trafficking.

The Parle-G Award for Excellence In Sports was given to Liam Bain (left) of The Frank Anthony Public School by Rajnish Bharti, zonal sales manager (east) Parle Products. Liam attended a 10-day football training camp at Argentina’s Club Atletico Boca Juniors in August. “I learnt about passion for sport even in the face of adversity there,” he said.

The Dr Mrs N.B. O’ Brien Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award was posthumously given to Father Boris D’ Santos of St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, by Neil O’ Brien. “We feel too small to receive this award but we are honoured,” said Father Benny Thomas (left), the principal of the school.

The ceremony opened with 41 girls and boys from the inclusive mainstream school Akshar singing a multilingual composition carrying the message of peace and harmony.

He could not use his hands to write or legs to walk but Md Zafaruddin learnt to write with his mouth. The 31-year-old teaches at Hanifa Primary School in Narkeldanga and simultaneously pursues his Higher Secondary studies. He gave away The Shalini (Mimi) Rakshit Memorial Scholarship to Shilpi Karmakar, a physics student of Gokhale Memorial Girls’ College who scored 81.6 per cent in HS 2014 despite having to cycle 3km to tuition class every day through dense forests in Bankura, where she’s even encountered wild elephants.

The Abhirup Bhadra Memorial “Thank You Baba-Ma” Award went to maternal grandparents Sanjoy and Shyamali Sengupta for taking responsibility of Swarnangki Bardhan after she was sent back to India by her mother from the US. The Class XI student of Ballygunge Shiksha Sadan received The Surrendra Paul Memorial Award for Courage.

This year’s theme was handicrafts. Gourav Malakar (in picture), Class XII, Lahuchar High School, West Dinajpur, received The Delhi Public School Megacity Scholarship, while Bibek Malakar, Class XI, Baidara Janakalyan High School, North Dinajpur, received The Mahavir Institute of Education and Research Scholarship from crafts teachers Sabita Roychowdhury (St. George’s School) and Beauty Saha (Ballygunge Shilpa Siksha Niketan).

Jalaluddin Gazi (right) couldn’t study beyond Class II because his parents couldn’t afford it. Instead, he was begging on the streets of Entally. At 15, he started pulling a rickshaw but the urge for education remained. He started driving a taxi in his early 20s and used the money to buy books for children who couldn’t afford them. He appealed to some of his passengers for donations and now runs two schools in his village, Thakurchak in the Sunderbans. An orphanage is under construction. “I didn’t want children who cannot afford it to be deprived of education and beg on the streets like I did,” he said, before handing over The Dr Krishna Gopal Udhvegam Scholarship to Satyajit Dolui. The youngster works in the paddy field in Gopalpur, Canning, yet scored a first division in HS 2014.

Text: Jhinuk Mazumdar & Showli Chakraborty Pictures: Rashbehari Das & Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya