For them, will finds a way- Little champs at first leg of The Telegraph School Awards

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By JHINUK MAZUMDAR
  • Published 24.08.10
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Mithun Gayen helps his father in the field by day and studies by the solitary lantern in their house in North 24-Parganas by night. He scored 92 per cent in Madhyamik, 90.4 per cent in HS and booked a berth in the electrical engineering department of Jadavpur University with an engineering rank of 94 at the Joint Entrance Examination 2010.

For first-year student Manowara Khatun, joining Vidyasagar College for Women with mathematics honours was more than just achieving an academic goal. With a family income of Rs 1,000, and a physically challenged father in Chandghar village of Nadia district, pursuing higher studies despite scoring 80 per cent in Madhyamik and 76 per cent in HS seemed a distant dream. “I want to continue my studies to rise above the poverty that has defined our lives,” says she.

Mithun, with the Madhab Dey Memorial Scholarship, and Manowara, with the Sujata Chaudhuri and Kanti Prasad Chaudhuri Memorial Scholarship, led a whole host of little champions at the first leg of the 14th edition of Techno India Group presents The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence. The programme at the Vidya Mandir auditorium on Saturday was a precursor to the finale at the Science City auditorium on August 28.

“These students are studying without electricity, transport and apparently any hope, and through these circumstances they are coming out with a 60 to a 90 per cent. That makes people like us feel very, very small…we are nobody compared with them. But that is the message of The Telegraph School Awards,” said convener Barry O’Brien.

The against-all-odds message rode the able shoulders of Md Zeeshan. The Class IX student of Park English School won the Balrampur Chini Mills Award for Outstanding Talent in art and also a Telegraph Education Foundation Scholarship for scoring 84 percent in the Class VIII finals. “My father lost his job when the tea company where he was a cook shut down,” said the 14-year-old who wants to study science and help out his family.

When a crescendo of claps greeted Taher Ali Mondal of Asokenagar, it symbolised the spirit of The Telegraph Education Foundation — the pursuit of studies against all odds. The 18-year-old works in a vest factory to fund his education and the treatment of his father, a cardiac patient. “There is so much work to do, there is hardly any time to study. But I must carry on,” said the second-year student of physical education at Netaji Satabarshiki Mahavidyalaya.

One also saluted the likes of Piyashi Pal of Basanti Devi College who works at a doctor’s clinic to pay for her own education and Pralay Pal, son of a van rickshaw-puller, who passed HS with 83 percent from Bongaon High School and is now studying physics honours in Asutosh College.

The tales of courage have also moved beyond the boundaries of the Vidya Mandir and Science City auditoriums, inspired by The Telegraph School Awards. “Schools have started their own courage awards and scholarships, and that means the movement has begun,” said O’Brien.