Open-air classes at Patha Bhavan
Santiniketan, Jan. 3: Visva-Bharati has taken up a programme to give free tuition to street children living outside its campus.
The varsity has identified 30 street children, aged between 5 and 15 years, who will be taught by students of Patha Bhavan, the Visva-Bharati-run school. Most of the 30 children live at the Bolpur-Santiniketan railway station.
Tomorrow, a cultural programme will be organised by Patha Bhavan students at the station. The students will sing and dance for the 30 street children and distribute blankets and sweets among them.
“The cultural programme is just a gesture from us. Subsequently, senior students of Patha Bhavan will give basic education to the children,” said Kishore Bhattacharya, the general secretary of the Adhyapak Sabha, the the teachers’ body of the varsity.
Varsity vice-chancellor Sushanta Duttagupta, registrar D. Gunasekaran and Rabindra Bhavan director Tapati Mukherjee will also attend the programme.
Visva-Bharati officials said that if required, the varsity would also make arrangements for formal education for the street children.
Gunasekaran said: “We will talk to the children at tomorrow’s programme. If we find that they are interested (in studying in a school), we will arrange for their formal education.”
Burdwan-based NGO Sakaler Jannyo has helped the varsity identify the street children.
“We discussed among ourselves the main problems of the children. We want to uplift them and for that, education is necessary. So, we have planned to send our senior students to the station regularly to coach the children,” a Patha Bhavan teacher said.
Books and other stationery items needed for studies will be bought with funds from Seva Bibhag, a Patha Bhavan wing to help poor students.
“Patha Bhavan students collect donations from teachers of the varsity and residents of Santiniketan to replenish the fund. The students usually help poor children living within the varsity area and studying in neighbouring rural schools. Now, the Patha Bhavan students will use this fund to educate street children,” a varsity official said.
“We will also seek funds from the Rabindra Bhavan Trust. However, everything depends on the children whom we want to help. They also have to be interested in education,” the official added.
A few months ago, NGO Sakaler Jannyo, which has been working for the past 10 years for the welfare of street children, had requested the Visva-Bharati authorities to help the street children.
“We conducted a survey and found out that most street children in Birbhum are orphans. They live at the railway station. A large number of these children get involved in crimes. So we requested Visva-Bharati to come forward and help the children,” said Bijoy Baruah, the secretary of the NGO.
Patha Bhavan students said they were eager to teach the street children. “If our teachers ask us to teach them, we will go to the railway station. It will be good if we can do something for them,” a Class IX student of Patha Bhavan said.