The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Best brains prove poverty no bar

Balurghat/Siliguri, May 31: Nareshchandra High School has proved it. It may not have the best infrastructure, but certainly has some of the best brains in South Dinajpur.

The six who scored above 75 per cent from this school had never allowed poverty to come in the way of performance.

The authorities of the institution also knew what they were up against. With students coming from families where the daily income is Rs 60, they were prepared for a tale of no-books, no-private tuitions and no-fees.

“That is why we gave them free coaching after their selection test. This continued right till the Madhyamik. Even Sundays and other holidays were not spared,” said Madan Mohan Moitra, the headmaster of the institution located near Balurghat town.

The efforts had not been in vain. Prasanta Sarkar has topped in the school by securing 674 or 84.25 per cent. His father is a daily labourer. Following him closely are Gautam Barman (672) Rahul Deb Barman (652), Utpal Mahato (652), Surjyasen Sarkar (649), Sanatan Das (637) and Chandan Mahanto (622).

All of them come from similar economic backgrounds, the headmaster said.

While Prasanta does not know if his father will get work tomorrow, Surjyasen has to help his parents to make ends meet. “But our school helped us tide over,” was Prasanta’s one-liner that said it all.

Moitra said of the 101 boys who appeared for the examination this year, 32 passed in the first division, 58 in the second and 11 in the third division.

There were no failures.

Around 350 km from Balurghat is Nandaprasad Uchhya Bidyalaya. Pranay Dutta, who has scored 776, is a student of this school in Naxalbari.

“He is the first student from our school to get the highest marks in the district,” said Paritosh Chakladar, the headmaster of the institution. “Not only that, he is from one of the small towns.”

Yesterday, while announcing the results in Calcutta, Swapan Sarkar, the secretary of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education said the performance of Darjeeling district left a lot to be desired. The pass percentage in the district has come down to 58.45 this time. Previously it used to be well above 60 per cent.

But principals of schools here do not want to give too much importance to Sarkar’s statement.

“I don’t think the results have deteriorated. We have a number of students who did really well,” said Chandan Das, the principal of Siliguri Boys’ High School. This year, 338 students had appeared for the examination from his institution. Of them 229 have secured first division.

Two hundred forty-six students appeared from Siliguri Girls’ High School for the examination, 198 of whom secured first division.

Principal Kalyani Chakraborty said: “There is hardly any difference of merit between students who score 760 and those who get 790 in Madhyamik. Therefore, the performance of Darjeeling or for that matter any other district cannot be judged in that manner.”

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