Published: 18th July 2022
Anyone can study in this special classroom in rural Bengal for just Rs 2 a year
A retired school teacher in a remote village in West Bengal has been taking classes for local students at an annual fee of just Rs 2 for several years
It is a tale of great service to mankind. A retired school teacher in a remote village in West Bengal has been taking classes for local students at an annual fee of just Rs 2 for several years. He has his own philosophy behind teaching in a village and taking this paltry sum as a fee.
Sujit Chattopadhyay calls his unique classroom the Sadai Fakirer Pathshala (Ever-Fakir's classroom). Over 300 students study there on an average. The classroom is near the residence of the teacher in Ramnagar village, which is located in Ausgram in West Bengal's East Burdwan district. It shot into limelight in November 2021, when the retired schoolmaster was nominated for the Padma Shri award.
Sujit is popular in his village as either Sadai Fakir or Du Takar Master Moshai (the two-rupee teacher). He chose to stay and teach in his village school after rejecting offers from urban schools. He believed that schools in rural Bengal were more in need of teachers than those located in the urban belts. When he retired at the age of 60 in 2004, he was quite worried about how he would spend his retirement days since teaching had become his daily habit, as stated in a report by IANS.
"However, right at that point of time, three local girls from the tribal community approached me to teach them. I told them that I would teach them provided they pay me an annual fee of Re 1. They were so happy that they fixed my annual fee at Re 1 plus four chocolates. That was the beginning. Gradually, more students started coming to him and, in the course of these 18 years, there has been only one change in the fee structure — it has been doubled to Rs 2," Sujit says.
"I teach students of 9th and 10th standards in the secondary level, 11th and 12th standards in the higher secondary level and first year, second year and third year at the graduation level. The fee structure is same for all of them, he said and added that so far over 3,000 students have taken coaching at his classroom and almost 80 per cent of them were girl students, majority of whom were coming from the tribal community," he adds, as reported by IANS.
Talking about the name of his classroom, he says, "After a couple of years of starting this coaching, some of my students told me that I could manage with a paltry annual fee which was Re 1 then, since I already have enough wealth in my possession. I tried to convince them that they were wrong. But it seemed that my students really did not believe that. There came the idea of the name to give a message that Fakir's never possess huge material wealth."
"What for do I need more? My son is well settled as an officer in the state disaster management department. My daughter is married and settled. Whatever I have earned from my retirement benefits are enough for me and my wife," he says, explaining why he takes the single-digit fee. "My actual success lies in the success of my students passing out of this Sadai Fakirer Pathshala. You will be happy to know that some of my current students are actively involved in the battle against thalassemia in the area and they have also involved me in this noble work," he adds.