British doctor Jack Preger flags off work on new education centre

Goodbye move by Samaritan who made Calcutta his home for 40 years, dispensing free medical treatment

By Jhinuk Mazumdar in Calcutta
  • Published 11.01.19, 2:56 AM
  • Updated 11.01.19, 2:56 AM
  • a min read
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Jack Preger unveils the plaque of Calcutta Rescue’s new education centre on Thursday. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

The 88-year-old British doctor who touched the lives of thousands on the city’s streets, railway platforms and drainage pipes on Thursday unveiled a plaque to start work on his NGO’s new education centre, four days before he bids farewell to his home of four decades.

Calcutta Rescue, founded by Jack Preger, will soon shift one of its education centres from Nilmoni Mitra Street to a newly bought property at 20 Ishwar Mill Lane off Bidhan Sarani.

“The building on Nilmoni Mitra Street is cramped and unsuitable for a school. This is better and the environment is completely different. The children will appreciate the change .... There is open space on the roof that can be used and it could transform their approach to coming to school,” said Preger, who was inducted into The Telegraph Education Foundation Hall of Fame last August.

The Nilmoni Mitra Street address at present accommodates about 350 children from Nursery to Class XII.

The new building will have 16 classrooms, a library, a computer centre and also a place to tinker and innovate. It will be renovated to be made more child-friendly and safe.

“This building is twice the size of the present one and so more spacious. It is brighter and more airy,” said Jaydeep Chakraborty, the CEO of Calcutta Rescue. “We will continue to cater to the same catchment area, just a kilometre away from where we are located on the edge of a red-light district. It’s unsafe at night. At our Tallah Park centre, children come till 7pm. But we couldn’t do that at Nilmoni Street because the staff and children don’t feel safe after dark.”

The NGO plans to make education more interactive and appealing. “It will not be the usual chalk-and-talk method,” Chakraborty said.