Teacher at Toto school receives national award
Misha Ghosal, the headmistress of Dhaniram Toto Memorial High School at Totopara in Alipurduar district, received the National Teachers’ Award from Surendra Kumar Meena, the district magistrate of Alipurduar, on Saturday.
Ghosal is among the two recipients of the award from Bengal which traditionally is given by the President of India on Teachers Day at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ceremony could not take place this year.
‘It was a great day for me yesterday (Saturday), but it would have been much better had I received the award from the President in New Delhi as it happens every year,’ rued Ghosal, adding that the award was not just her personal achievement but that of the entire school and the local people.
The school Ghosal teaches is in Totopara which is home to one of the most primitive tribe’s of the country: Totos.
Totopara is under Madarihat-Birpara block of Alipurduar bordering Bhutan.
All 47 awardees from different parts of the country were, however, congratulated by President Ram Nath Kovind through video conference earlier.
Ghosal had joined the school, which is perched on a hill 22km from Madarihat town, 12 years back.
‘In my initial years, students were very irregular in attending classes. Girls in particular remained engaged doing domestic chores, instead of coming to school. I subsequently learned the Toto language and introduced learning through music in order to connect with the students. Those little things seem to have worked,’ she said.
The school at present has a student-strength of 250, but only seven teachers. After much effort, the higher secondary section was also opened this year.
Ghosal has also worked on the conservation of Toto folk culture and has written a book on it.