A school dropout and a daily wage labourer Jhuka Bauri donated a piece of land measuring more than 1,300 sq ft to a primary school of about 90 students so that a shed can be built by the authorities for the students to have their midday meal under that.
55-year-old Jhuka, who is a resident of Binduidi village of Purulia in West Bengal earns his living as a daily wage earner and barely manages to run his family of four. He resides in a single room and on some days he does not even get any work. Despite earning such a small amount, he gave away half of the small six-decimal plot (1 decimal = 435.5 sq ft) of the land he owned. The plot was registered at Raghunathpur in the name of the school.
The cost of the land that Jhuka Bauri has donated to the kids is near about about INR 1,00,000, which he will take approximately 16 months to earn back. According to the government rate, the cost of the three-decimal plot is INR 66,000 (INR 22,000 per decimal). But, he did not care to sell it to the school, or anybody else for that matter.
The labourer said, “I have watched the students have their midday meals under the blazing sun. When it rains, the kids have to run to the school balancing their plates of rice and gruel. When we were students we never got a meal, but the students are now fortunate. My plot is adjacent to the school, and so I thought it might be of use to them.”
“It is a noble effort. We will construct a shed for the students to have the midday meal. We will cultivate vegetables on the remaining land,” said Soumendranath Mandal, headmaster of Binduidi Primary School.
The school still needs money to construct the shed for the meal, due to which they have started appealing to the people for money. A Rajya Sabha MP has promised INR 5,00,000.
“After getting the money we will start the construction,” said the headmaster of the school.
Bauri is not the first one to contribute towards the growth of the school. Bauri’s relatives had given the school 12 decimals and a new building which was constructed in 2010, as initially the school began on a one decimal piece of land in 1962 which was not sufficient to run a school.
The area is about 63 km from Purulia town, the district headquarters, and about 237 km away from Kolkata, West Bengal.
About the Midday Meal Scheme: The government of India launched a school meal programme to improve the nutritional status of the school-age children nationwide. The programme supplies free lunches for children in primary and upper primary classes in government schools on the working days. It is also a way to attract the students to attend school, as many students in rural areas do not wish to attend school. The programme, launched in the year 1995 has undergone many changes.
Despite these provisions, there are a number of challenges that most of the schools in the rural areas have to face.