Baishali Mukherjee (Kolkata)
Kolkata-based entrepreneur Kamal Prakash is co-founder of Dakshini Prayash (DP, estb.1994), an NGO which runs the free-of-charge Madurdaha Satyavritti Vidyalaya (MSV), a primary school in South 24 Parganas district.
Founded in 1994 with four students learning under trees cover, MSV is now housed in two buildings in which 400 pre-primary to class VIII students are mentored by 32 teachers, eight non-teaching staff and 20 volunteers. After completion of class VIII, children transfer to neighbouring government/private secondary schools with the MSV management continuing to support them by way of tutorials, financial aid and vocational and higher education career guidance. Moreover, MSV also conducts adult literacy classes for the local community.
Newspeg. With the West Bengal government allowing reopening of schools on February 12, MSV has opened with staggered timings for students.
History. The late Nalini Mukherjee (1929-2010), a resident of Tagore Park, used to visit her neighbourhood village of Madurdaha during her morning walk. On being invited by local parents to teach their children, she started non-formal classes. Later, she teamed up with friend Kamal Prakash to formalise her informal efforts by registering the Dakshini Prayash Trust, a quarter century ago.
Direct talk. “Registration of the Dakshini Prayash Trust 27 years ago was the first step towards establishing and developing MSV. Since then, this primary school not only provides all-round education but also healthy nutritious meals to our children. This combination of wholesome nutrition and engaging teaching-learning has resulted in students’ improved health and learning outcomes,” says Prakash, a director of the Kolkata-based 120-year-old Jiwanram Sheoduttrai Group of Companies with diversified business interests in metallurgy and engineering.
To motivate and make the education process engaging for children, co-curricular — yoga, music, dance, art and craft — as also sports education, are integrated into the curriculum. In 2018, a multipurpose indoor sports arena offering facilities for athletics, football and rugby, sponsored by HDFC Life, was inaugurated. The trust also conducts vocational training programmes to improve the livelihoods of the local population.
The annual budget of Rs.75 lakh is funded by patrons including Jiwanram Sheoduttrai Group, Rashi Peripherals, Bank of Baroda, HDFC Life, Urbana and Inner Wheel Club, among others.
Future plans. A third building is being constructed on the MSV campus. “Our objective is to develop a model institution for community development through holistic education, healthcare and self-reliance. Once the new building is ready, we will expand the school to class X,” says Prakash.
Wind in your sails!