EDUCATION vs CORRUPTION TRENDS: Homes on expansion path – Alumni walk to celebrate 110th anniversary

A Bust of the Founder of the Homes Rev Dr Graham and his great grandson Arifin Graham - a legacy built 110 years ago and much to be proud of ?!! (Himal News)

EDUCATION vs CORRUPTION TRENDS: Homes on expansion path – Alumni walk to celebrate 110th anniversary – fantastic plans, but controlled by proxy from Kolkata, overseas fund-raising committees and OGBs worldwide should be vigilant about the reality on the ground before condoning those more concerned with running after construction commissions and shoddy work without any follow-up ?!!

The DGH Board Members - a change of guard for the betterment of the famous Dr Graham vision ?!! (Himal News)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Kalimpong, Sept. 27: The 110-year-old Dr Graham’s Homes has decided to embark on an expansion drive by almost doubling the number of students and turning the institution into a university of excellence in the long run.

The school has currently 1,300 students and the management’s immediate plan is to increase the strength to 2,500. “The short-term plan is to increase the primary and junior school base by adding more sections. This will require the construction of more classrooms and hiring of more teachers,” said Anmole Prasad, a member of the managing board of Homes.

DGH Old Girls and Boys (OGBs) congregating at the Cathrine Graham Memorial Church at the start of the Birthday Celebration - more aware than most about what is actually happen at ground zero ?!! (Himal News)

The managing board of the school was recently reconstituted with Lt Gen. (retd) J. Mukherjee taking over as the president from M.J. Robertson. The new board members deliberated on ways and means to expand and improve the school during the course of the week-long celebration to commemorate the institution’s 110th anniversary. The celebrations concluded here yesterday.

Prasad said the new board would work on a multi-pronged approach to improve the education delivery system in the school. “The long-term vision is to turn Homes from a school into a university. Homes has the infrastructure, assets, heritage and importantly, the brand equity to turn itself into a premier institution of higher education,” he added.

DGH's 110 birthday cake cutting ceremony - another milestone towards greater academic heights ?!!

Ex-students of Homes, many of whom gathered here in good numbers from different corners of the world over the last week, were unanimous in welcoming the plan. “Why not, why not. The school has the space and assets for expansion,” said Ganesh Mani Pradhan, an alumnus of 1957 and a floriculturist of the town.

On the concluding day of the anniversary celebration, the Kalimpong chapter of Old Boys and Girls (OGBs), as the alumni association of Homes is called, organised a sponsored walk in which the present and past students took part. More than 120 participants walked 19km, from Homes to 17th Mile via 11th Mile and then back to the school through another route.

Most of the participants collected roughly Rs 1,000 each to take part in the walk. “Part of the money will be used to sponsor a project in the school. We organise such a walk when there is a good gathering of ex-students during an important school event like this year’s 110anniversary celebration,” said Hiren Mani Pradhan, the president of OGBs’ Kalimpong chapter.

BIRTHDAY GREETINGS TO THE HOMES FROM THE BATCH OF 1975 – 35 years on an old student writes his batch’s greetings, too long and succinct for comfort ?!!

DGH CEO Philip Gibson & Chairman of the Canadian Council of Dr Graham's Homes, Arifin Graham - raising international funds to build educational opportunity standards of world renowned status ?!! (Himal News)

Forwarded by Gorkhs Daju

Kalimpong, Sep 24, 2010: Happy Birthday Homes, on your hundred and tenth birthday.

Since we passed out from the Homes in 1975, 35 years ago, we have seen many changes. And we hope we speak for all the other OGBs as well, those much senior to us and those, just a little junior to us, including the batch of 85 that is celebrating their Silver Jubilee this year and are here with us today.

DGH OGBs a mixed batch of old friends and teachers from all walks of life - the most successful and those more humble all in one happy family ?!! (Himal News)

We all know how precious reunions can be. In our thoughts are also all the other OGBs who are not with us today physically, but whose hearts and thoughts – we are sure – are also with us on this very special day … the 110th Birthday of our dear Homes.

The Centenary Year 2000, ten quick years ago, (my, how the time flies once one is out of school) That was when we celebrated our Silver Jubilee Reunion and in our deepest ‘heart of hearts’ we had hoped that our ‘dear home away from home’ our beloved Dr Graham’s Homes would somehow improve then. Those were rather trying times.

And lo and behold, today we can say with ‘a glad heart’ that our prayers have been answered ‘to a large extent’. Our Cathrine Graham Church is, once more, pristine and gleaming and so has Jubilee House been done up with the most elegant and exquisite taste, as have all the gardens and cottages been repaired and redone all around the Homes compound.

The kudos naturally goes to the able leadership of our CEO Mr Gibson and his wife Mrs Gibson, our bursar Mr David Foning, the current management board and all the Dr Graham’s Homes Team, the multitude of overseas committees under the able leadership of our very own Lady Ball from Woodburn, our Honoured Guests and dignitaries, the staff, well wishers and the sponsors the world over who have worked so tirelessly and humbly from behind the scenes to make the Homes what it is today.

Thank you Dr Graham’s Homes Team, we, the batch of 75 are impressed and truly glad to be back amongst you all with a joyful heart to share with you all our one true blessing that is this unique institution of Dr Graham’s Homes. Our home away from home.

DGH Autumn Queen - exposure of the best of the real world after school - any future Miss India's in the making ?!! (Himal News)

But most of all, it is you, the young boys and girls, the wonderful children of Dr Graham’s Homes that make us most proud. The level of talent that we have witnessed at the Swimming Gala, Open Drills, Inter-Cottage singing, the fantastic performance of the now world renowned choir, the children’s plays, the new beauty pageant of the Autumn Queen, the solo performances, et al, has been most impressive. Congratulations to you all, as well as all the support staff and teachers working tirelessly behind the scenes to make all this possible. A truly rare treat for all us OBG’s and our most honoured guests.

Prayas & Prayas - classical violinist and tabala maesteros already of most stunning talent, just in class 8 and 10 students of the Homes - still a long, long way to go, soon from national to international fame ?!! (Himal News)

We see the seeds of genius well sown. And now, we pray with deep humility and hope for the same level of genius and dedication in the academic performances of this school as well. For, when we can hear of Dr Graham’s Homes breaking academic records nation-wide as well, then too, will we know that all our prayers have truly been answered in completeness.

We also pray that all this success may not lead to any arrogance nor anger in any form or kind. For, as the saying goes, with great privilege and talent, comes yet greater responsibility: of “humility, patience and friendly selflessness.” Back to where it all began with a most humble beginning – 110 years ago – with daddy Graham’s selfless vision and his handful of sponsored children, albeit barefoot and with khaki shorts.

DGH batch of 75 - Rajendra Raikut's last photo in hospital, still courageously smiling on till the very end, a week before he passed away with cancer - sorely missed by all his friends and well wishers, now remembered forever !!! (Himal News)

On the subject of prayer, this year, we – the batch of 75 – have lost a dear friend, Rajendra Raikut to cancer. We remember Rajendra Raikut as our Day Scholar Prefect as well as NCC sergeant – who was by far the most smartly dressed boy in the whole school. His pants always had perfect creases – so sharp, as the metaphor goes, you could easily cut an apple on them. His blazer, shirt and tie, most thoroughly spotless. Rajendra was a gleaming example of our Homes motto “THOROUGH” in every way. He was most helpful, kind and courteous to all, “big chaps and small chaps alike”. We will all miss you Rajendra, and pray that your soul rest in peace.

DGH teachers, long retired, who played pivotal roles still most happy to return to the Homes - a home away from home ?!! (Himal News)

Amongst us today, who deserve our special gratitude and mention, are our dearest teachers – Mr Washington – who gave us the best time in the Technical, Mr Prakash – who took care of all our PT needs with his joy-filled Panjabi jokes, Mr MB Pradhan who is still as loud and gregarious as ever, Mr Lowen Lama under whose strict and necessary NCC discipline the whole school stood at stock attention, and all the way from the United States, our brilliant biology teacher Mr Lucose who seems to be getting younger every passing day, probably due to the joy and satisfaction of seeing all his children and students doing so well in life. Also, in our thoughts and prayers is our still suave and dashing Mr Brooks in Calcutta, still going strong at 80 plus, whose daughter Pauline is amongst us to convey this message to him.

DGH OBGs of the batch of 75 - Lester, Kathleen and Yonten Pratt from the United Kingdom - a 35 year old romance with the Homes, to last for always ?!! (Himal News)

PS Lester and Yonten Pratt told us after the program that his father, Mr Pratt, our great English teacher, shared his birthday with the Homes. Mr Pratt’s contribution has been instrumental, in no small terms, to the standards of our English. He would have been 98 had he been with us. A prayer goes out to the entire Pratt family who were also with us at the 2010 celebrations.

We also remember all our other teachers who are not with us today. Our dearest (Dharies and Thajeys) Cottage Uncles and Aunties), our kitchen staff, our guards and all the other administrative staff. We thank you dear teachers, staff and friends for making us all what we are today and for that we will humbly remain ever so grateful.

So, without much ado, let us again wish all in the Homes a very happy and special birthday wish this 110th birthday – may the Homes grow from strength to strength, year on year. Happy Birthday To All. HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOMES. Do keep some buns, julebees and tea for us too …. for we sure look forward to them just as we did, way back when, when we were also students – just like you all.

From the batch of 75

Pop Tshering Bhutia who sends a special hello from Lucknow due to unavoidable work duties and greatly misses being here with us all …Dowden Gowloog and Lawan Pradhan who may be a little too busy and avoid the limelight for reasons of their own. Jennifer Miller, Jessie Khan, Paul Lyngdoh, Rohit Salve, Richard Kerr (whose mother, Mrs Enid Kerr is with us today) and all the other friends who couldn’t be here with us as well as all the other lost souls of the batch of 75, who may be just a mobile or an e-mail away.

And, from all those who are present here today, Lester & Yonten Pratt, Patricia DeSantos, Bhanu Ahmed, Shirley Knowles, Kathleen Leslie & Birendra Shrestha

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOMES – WE ALL DO, SO DEEPLY, LOVE YOU ALL !!!

Salary protest at DPSC – School office ransacked on graft charges – nothing much one can expect from a culture of corruption run from Kolkata ?!!

Youth Congress activists throw salary documents in the air at the district primary school council office in Jalpaiguri on Monday. (Biplab Basak) - fedup with Bengal's culture of corruption even in education for the next generation ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Sept. 27: The Youth Congress today ransacked the district primary school council office in Jalpaiguri in a bid to block the disbursement of salaries to nearly 1,400 new recruits alleging corruption in their appointment process. The teachers retaliated by setting up a road blockade for nearly two hours.

The protesters said they would not allow the salary payment till the report of an inquiry, initiated by the state school education department into the allegation of corruption in the appointment of teachers, was filed or made public.

Around 8.30pm, about 150 teachers set up a blockade on DBC Road in front of the DPSC office, demanding action against the Youth Congress workers. Partha Sarathi Chakraborty, who has was appointed recently, said if several important papers had been lost in today’s incident, the processing of their job formalities and payment of salaries would be delayed. “We want the administration and the DPSC to take steps against the offenders.”

The blockade was lifted at 10.15pm following police intervention.

Earlier at 2.30pm, about 150 Youth Congress activists raided the DPSC office and tossed the salary documents of the new recruits in the air. The protesters, led by Jalpaiguri Youth Congress district president Saikat Chatterjee, entered the chairman’s chamber and tore the government order asking the DPSC to disburse salaries to the new teachers. They continued sloganeering till 3pm.

“Questions have been raised repeatedly over the recruitment process as allegations of nepotism and political influence have been levelled against the DPSC authorities and CPM leaders,” Chatterjee said. “The school education department has initiated an inquiry into the allegations, but its report is yet to be published.”

Chatterjee alleged that at least 800 of the total 1,411 teachers, who had been appointed by the DPSC recently, had bagged the jobs “in an illegal manner”. “The suspension of 15 candidates, who are the near and dear ones of district CPM leaders, is just a tip of the iceberg as we feel that the names of many more candidates like them will be revealed in the investigation,” he said.

The Youth Congress leader admitted that some teachers who had got the jobs on merit would also suffer because of their agitation. “But we are against the payment of salaries to any teacher, till the inquiry report is out. We have no problem if the report is made public and steps are taken against those who had resorted to unfair means to bag the jobs,” Chatterjee said.

As the news spread, members of the CPM-backed All Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association staged a demonstration on the DPSC office premises to protest the Youth Congress agitation. “We want appropriate steps to be taken against those who were involved in the ransack,” said Biresh Sikdar, the Jalpaiguri district secretary of the ABPTA. “They have torn, destroyed and taken away several important government papers.”

District inspector of schools (primary) Kallol Roy is holding the charge of the DPSC chairman after the incumbent was removed following allegations of corruption were raised. “Roy is out of station. We have informed him about the incident,” said an employee of the office. Police said no complaint had been filed.

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