SNS | Balurghat | 16 July, 2016:Education can change a nation. This is seen in practice at the remote village of Chanchai, in Tapan block of South Dinajpur district. Chanchai Free Primary School is located 15 km away from Balurghat town. This is a remote tribal village under Gofanagar Gram Panchayat, with a population of about 70 families.
The school and its head-teacher have changed the village image. The smart school has changed the village in all respects. Before 2009 there were just nine students in this school. For the villagers, education was not such a big deal. But the head teacher, Pobitra Mahanta, decided to change the situation. This was a tough task for him. But within one year the picture was changed. At first mid-day meals were started, which attracted the village children and they started to come to school.
At present the student strength is 29 boys and 24 girls. Chenchai Free Primary School is the first government-sponsored Smart Primary School in the district. Many of facilities found only in top private schools are there, like smart class room, modern kitchen and dining hall. clean toilets, digital library, and computer-aided learning facilities, running water, safe drinking water, CCTV monitoring, and a self-maintained stationery shop called “Amader Dokan”. Now that the number of students is increasing, it is expected that the new generation of the village will be 100 per cent literate.
The school had achieved the prestigious Nirmal Vidyalaya award and Sishumitra Vidyalaya Puraskar in the year 2012. Not only that, the school has taken up an initiative to change the village also with the help of the parents. Chenchai village is now a Nirmal Gram with hundred per cent toilet facilities. The school has set up a music system and free wi-fi facility for the villagers.
A rural library with television is also provided by the school for the villagers. Chanchai Free Primary School has become the entire village’s school. The villagers are taking the responsibility of the school’s security at night. No longer just a government property, this has become truly the village’s property.
UNICEF has made a documentary film on this school as a rare example of ODF (Open Defecation Free) motivator. Nitay Mahata, a retired bank employee who had cut off his ties with the village for various reasons has now come back to Chanchai. He said, “My village has been transformed, now we can say we are modern. All the children are going to school. Education can change a society but in my village it has changed the whole village and the villagers”. “This is a rare initiative from a school.
The government is trying to give rural education a boost, specially in tribal area. Chenchai Free Primary School has achieved the goal,” said Bachhu Hansda, the minister of state for North Bengal development.