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“Kuri Te Kuri” : Revolutionary Concept to Run a Primary School

“Kuri Te Kuri” : Revolutionary Concept to Run a Primary School

Children in a classroom

Gripping tale of a young primary school headmaster who has vowed to dedicate his life to the upkeep and educating the tribal students in a remote North Bengal village

Twenty out of twenty : seems a student or a teacher discussing marks to be obtained in a particular subject in the coming exam.

No, not quite so. An innocuous bag, fairly large one, sporting 20 : 20, hangs in the wall of a primary school of a backward area of Nigamnagar village under Dinhata subdivision of Coochbehar district of North Bengal.

Poverty-ridden inhabitants of this tribal village have no wherewithal to buy essentials, clothes for daily wear, leave alone food.

A large majority of them religiously troop out every day in search of earning some basic means of livelihood by any means, leaving their kids at home.

The grown-up children always accompany their parents and the concept of child labour is quite anathema to them.

The prolonged lockdown due to the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on this remote village of extremely docile people.

Many villagers have been reduced to skin and bone while some elderly people expired as they went without food.

These deaths cannot be termed hunger deaths though, for they were suffering from other diseases including “co-morbidity” !!!

However, the plight of the kids and a procession of death have failed to affect the tribals with the lone exception of one person – the headmaster of the primary school.

Since the school is located just beside the state highway connecting a weekly market and some comparatively affluent villages around, the headmaster was toying with several ideas to organize relief.

Nag the headmaster( He spoke on a condition that his surname be used only) painted the wall of the school adjacent to the highway with a simple bi-lingual slogan – 20 : 20.

“Kuri  te  Kuri” reads the slogan in Bengali.

In the middle of the wall, he has kept a quite big sack hanging. And all this `show’ ( if one is allowed to call it so) began on September 2 last.

The innocent tribals of his village have little whiff of their headmaster had in mind nor have the stray passers-by or the motorists or daily traders speeding along the highway.

But every one has been left wondering what it exactly means and why the sack, fixed on a nail, is left hanging on the wall.

“The first week was full of curious queries and I was flooded with people stopping by to ask what does all this mean,” Nag told EastIndiaStory.Com over phone from Nigamnagar.

His voice was feeble and shaking as he spoke, thanks to a very unstable mobile connectivity.

After much persuasion, Nag agreed to reveal his gameplan.

“Since lockdown, I was extremely distressed to see the condition of these kids. They were bare-bodied and had no food since morning. Initially, I thought I have to get them proper dress.”

“I have 20 students and this is a pandemic year of 2020. I simply  planned to stoke the curiosity of the people so that I get a chance to explain my mission.”

And Nag’s idea clicked remarkably. “Kuri  te  Kuri” became a talk of the locality.

Nag travelled to neighbouring villages and organized some tops for girls and half pants for the boys. But soon, he realized he was wrong.

There is no point in dressing up skeletal frames if there is no flesh and blood in it.

He started spending sleepless nights , with the emaciated faces of the kids thronging in his dreams.

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“And I discovered myself wiping tears, sitting on the bed. It never happened in my life earlier,” Nag fumbled as he spoke.

Suddenly, an idea flashed across his mind and he set about implementing it since dawn. He cleaned the wall facing the main road and painted it during the day.

His Nigamananda Saraswat School has barely 20 students ; he vowed to arrange food and clothes for them 24 X 7.

“ I have 20 students and this is a pandemic year of 2020. I simply  planned to stoke the curiosity of the people so that I get a chance to explain my mission.”

And Nag’s idea clicked remarkably. “Kuri  te Kuri” became a talk of the locality.

After a week of inquiry pouring in from the locals passing by, the sack begun showing signs of little `swelling’  since morning from the second week.

By third week, on certain days, it become too ‘healthy’ to hang as it has been filled with all kinds of vegetables.

Some have even dropped tea and sugar besides shirts and tops in plastic wrappers!

On October 2, to mark the Gandhi jayanti, a beaming Nag taught his students to sing `Saare Ja Ha Se Achha…’ and some of those unknown benefactors stopped by to see the celebration in the school.

Nag, who hails from Coochbehar district and an ex-student of Jadavpur University, now plans to write to his university friends to float a fund so that he can dedicate the rest of his life to this school.

His dream is to bring more students to the school by arresting the child labour and turn the village into a model one and make all resident tribals literate.

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