The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A dozen to realise Buddha’s madarsa dream

When Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said he wanted to see more and more students coming out of madarsas to make their mark in the more modern professions, he did not know the script would start unfolding so fast.

A one-of-its-kind partnership between Bhattacharjee’s government and a private agency rests on the slender shoulders of 12 young lead players.

Some of the best talents the madarsa system of education has to offer, they have left their homes in faceless villages to stay here for two years.

Their objective: cracking the competitive Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) via two-year intensive coaching, that will go on simultaneously with their plus-two education in schools.

The plan the West Bengal Board of Madarsa Education had for them began with an achievement-level test conducted by Guidance Foundation during the run-up to the Class X examination conducted by the Board.

But it is only now that the plan is taking concrete shape, with 12 of the best students being put in hostels and Higher Secondary schools in the city and a five-day-a-week coaching for the JEE.

Md Maniruzzaman’s father died a few years ago and the boy, who came to the city with only the clothes on his back, studies for free. His mother, Saira Banu, does odd jobs to make ends meet at their Rajaramchak home, in Malda.

Nasreen Mumtaz’s father, Ghulam Murtaza Mallick, is a small farmer at Deulia, in Burdwan. Mallick, whose daughter passed out of a madarsa near her home this year, can barely afford to pay Rs 400 every month.

“The total cost of the entire programme will work out to a dozen times that amount,” guidance chief Emdadul Haque said.

The nine boys and the three girls, however, have adapted to their new life well. The boys go to Adarsha Vidyalay in Sealdah and the girls to Srimati Jahar Nandini Vidyapith. They come back from school and then go for the JEE coaching.

“We have to report back to the madarsa board on how the wards are faring,” Haque said.

The Class X achievement-level test will go down — year by year — to Class V, say Board officials.

“We want to identify the talent from this pool and nurture them before they drop out for poverty or other reasons,” one of them explained.

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