The fate of nearly 100 underprivileged students studying in two early primary schools run by Delhi’s Bengal Association hangs in balance, thanks to a tussle in the socio-cultural organisation’s executive committee.
The Bengal Association in Delhi is a non-governmental organisation established in 1958 that aims to promote the Bengali language and culture in the Capital. The organisation also runs two schools for early primary education, one each in Jahangirpuri and Madanpur Khadar, where students from very poor families are provided free education.
The association, however, might close down these schools as some members believe the schools are not serving any purpose.
The school in Jahangirpuri was opened in 1980 and the one in Madanpur Khadar in 2005. "These two schools play the role of a bride between formal late primary education and preschool stage. If we close these, some children will not get educated at all and another set of students will lose the opportunity to learn Bengali," said Dr. Krishna Sengupta, former convener of the association’s education committee.
Sengupta has resigned as the convener to protest against the proposed move. The association has seen a change of guard recently and its earlier secretary, who is a CPI(M) member and was at the helm for nearly 30 years, was defeated in election for the post.
"The group in the executive committee who took lead role in taking a decision to close down the school are close to the Trinamool Congress," Sengupta said. "This group made the issue into a political one."
Executive committee members of the association, however, deny the charges. "The association is a socio-cultural organisation and we don’t belong to any political party," said a senior committee member, who didn’t wish to be identified.
"The issue was discussed in our last governing body meeting and some members feel that the association doesn’t have the requisite funds to continue the schools," he said.
"Also, when the Municipal Corporation of Delhi runs its own primary schools, which also provide mid day meals and clothes, it’s better to send our students there," he added.
"The decision is not final and it has been postponed for two months for a thorough review," he said.