Rural development missionaries:

EducationWorld July 2022 | EducationWorld People
-Baishali Mukherjee (Kolkata)

Established in 2002, Nanritam (‘truth’) is a Purulia (West Bengal)-based NGO promoted by Ranjana Sengupta, founder-secretary, and Prof. P.K. Giri, president of Nanritam Society, together with five like-minded professionals — Dr. Shyamal K. Datta, Dr. Osman Ghani, Milika Datta, Ranjit Mukherji, and Dr. Bharati Bakshi with Prof. Kaushik Basu, former World Bank chief economist, as mentor. Nanritam provides health, education and livelihood training services to the public, and manages four projects in Purulia (267 km from Kolkata) — Filix School of Education, UDBHAAS centre for challenged children, Lokeswarananda Eye Foundation, and Nanritam Krishi Kendra for educating farmers.

The NGO’s flagship Filix School of Education (FSE) is a CBSE-affiliated English-medium K-10 school sited in Para village with an enrolment of 450 children mentored by 20 teachers.

Newspeg. Nanritam is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

Prof. P.K. Giri

History. Promoted in 2014, FSE has quickly earned an excellent reputation for providing high-quality affordable schooling (tuition fee: Rs.600-1,600 per month) in the backward Purulia district. The school’s first batch of students will write the class X board exam in 2023. “FSE provides high-quality English-medium education to rural children at affordable fees. I am pleased to report that over the past seven years, FSE has developed into a progressive institution offering joyous learning and pedagogies to educationally neglected rural children,” says Prof. P.K. Giri, president of Nanritam and former head of the statistics department, Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur, Kolkata.

With the NGO’s K-10 English-medium school having been brought on stream smoothly, last November Nanritam initiated an Education for All (EFA) outreach programme to improve teaching-learning standards in rural West Bengal. The EFA campaign is being led by Sarada Prasad Namhata, former vice president of Huntsman Corporation and global R&D director, Dow Chemical Company. Currently, 500 government and private school teachers in ten districts statewide are receiving in-service teacher training to improve the learning outcomes of 20,000 primary school children.

Other initiatives. Established in 2008, the society’s modest eye care clinic in Purulia district’s Barandanga, Para village, has grown into a 100-bed super specialty free-of-charge hospital, supported by the state government, which treats 200,000 patients per year. Likewise, Nanritam Krishi Kendra (estb.2010) provides on-site education to 2,000 farmers in three districts to adopt best farming practices and improve yields. Moreover, Nanritam also runs the UDBHAAS centre for challenged children.

Over the past two decades, Nanritam has recruited a team of 100 full-time employees supported by 140 field workers from local communities working in the backward districts of Purulia, Bankura, Bardhaman and Paschim Medinipur in West Bengal. The society’s annual budget is heavily subsidised by corporate and individual donations raised by trustees and well-wishers.

Future plans. “Nanritam’s initiatives in one of the country’s most socio-economically backward districts is a promising experiment in rural development. If we are successful in sustaining our model, it offers the possibility of emulation and replication countrywide,” says Ranjana Sengupta, founder-secretary of the Nanritam Society.

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