The Origin of Rudrapur Primary School

Two distinguished personalities - Late Nibaron Chandra Roy and Late Romesh Chandra Roy had a popular mission and progressive vision to establish a primary school in the village of Rudrapur to provide functional education to the children of Rudrapur and nearby villages. Interestingly, both of them had no standard education. They had education up to class-X and IX respectively. However, they were learned, scholar, and intelligentsia. Due to their untiring efforts and the unique inspiration and relentless cooperation of local people their dream Rudrapur Primary School was established in 1961. At that time there was no educated person in the village(s) to be a teacher of the newly established primary school. Anyway, Mr. Gobinda Chandra Roy, who had only primary education (class V) was appointed as the founder teacher. It is to be mentioned here that many land lords created obstacle in the development of the school with the fear that when the children would be educated and developed strong personality no farm laborer would be available (Talukder, 1994).

Talukder (1994) quoted the names of two social reformers - one is late Ghoshendra Nath Roy, father of Late Ramesh Chandra Ray and other was late Navo Kanta Roy, father of Late Nibaron Chandra Roy. Both of them were very intimate friends to each other and they earned reputation for their unique devotion to social welfare services and reform works. After their death the social reform works initiated by them was about to be a forgotten subject. Incidentally, their sons Late Romesh Roy and Late Nibaron Roy were also cordial friends to each other and both of them had commitment to advance their fathers' dream. They thought that without education no social reforms would be sustainable. So, they pledged to establish a primary school in their village Rudrapur. Accordingly they worked hard, surmounted ups and downs and at last reached their ultimate goals in 1961.

The school was established in a poor economic condition. For its economic solvency recognition by the district board was highly important. But it was difficult to meet the precondition set by the district board for recognition. One of the precondition was that the minimum qualification of a teacher of a primary school should be matriculate standard. But qualification of its only teacher Gobinda Chandra Roy was standard five only. In this circumstance, Late Nibaron Roy was given responsibility to finding out a qualified teacher by the school authority and local people. Mr. Nibaron Roy shouldered the responsibility and devoted himself to finding out a matriculate person.

To speak the truth there were scarce literate persons in the area. However, after long search one day Late Nibaron Roy received a hopeful message that there was a public library in Bulia Bazar where a handful person used to come to collect books for gathering knowledge. Readily, he rushed to the library and found there one Naresh Chakrabarty who was matriculate. Late Nibaron Roy explained him detailed that one primary school was established at Rudrapur village but it was not getting recognition from the District Board due to want of matriculate person who can join as a teacher. And then he requested him (Naresh Chakrabarty) to join the school. Being a learned young person and had a degree of social conscientization Mr. Naresh accepted the offer and joined Rudrapur Government Primary School. It is to be mentioned here that Mr. Naresh was hailed from Goalchamat of Faridpur district. He came to Dinajpur in the beginning of 1960 and joined as a teacher at Chatail Primary School located at Kaharol Upazila.

Mr. Naresh Chakrabarty joined Rudrapur Primary School very soon. Still then the District Board did not recognize the school. The District Board again imposed another precondition that a primary school teacher should have PTI training. Mr. Chakrabarty did not have that training. However, Mr. Chakrabarty was sent to Thakurgaon PTI Training Institute for PTI training.with the financial assistance of Late Nibaron Roy and Ramesh Roy. He successfully obtained PTI certificate. In 1969, Dinajpur District Board recognized Rudrapur Primary School. Since then Mr. Chakrabarty became the government paid school teacher of Rudrapur primary school. The school was running very well.

After the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 Late Nibaron Roy and Romesh Roy worked hard to elevate the primary school to high school. At last they were very much successful and could change over it to high school keeping unchanged its primary section. Mr. Gopesh Chandra Roy was appointed as founder Head Master of newly established high school. The Head Master was hailed from nearby Mahtabpur village. Till then the course of development was confined to school premise - education.

In 1972, UNICEF organized an agricultural training course at Dinajpur PTI training center for primary school teachers. Mr. Naresh Chakrabarty was sent there from Rudrapur primary school to participate in the training program. Soon after training Mr. Chakrabarty returned with new knowledge and vision. He applied his new venture through other school teachers. He taught the students practical agriculture, nutrition, and change of food habit. With this view point he established demonstration plots of vegetables of tomato, turnip, radish, and other winter vegetables in the school field. The villagers visited the demonstration plots and learnt to cultivate vegetables. Before that the local people did not know much about winter vegetable cultivation like cauliflower, cabbage, turnip etc. Banana cultivation was also included in the school agricultural program. According to Sepal Chandra, the Area Manager of Dipshikha, the operational activities that demonstrated were very interesting and encouraging. The students got tremendous enthusiasm with new zeal and they practiced vegetable and banana production at their homes and ultimately their parents were inspired to start vegetable cultivation. Many visitors from home and abroad visited the school and nearby villages.

In 1973, Mr. Chakrabarty was sent again in Dinajpur PTI Training Center to pursue similar course to strengthen his agricultural learning. Interestingly, during this course the Principal of PTI wanted to know whether any teachers obtained training in the previous batch applied the learning in their schools and expressed his desire to visit the school. Out of 124 teachers nobody dared to invite the Principal. It was Mr. Chakrabarty who alone established an exhilarative demonstration farm in his school premise for open learning to all. So, without hesitation and with full self-confidence he humbly invited the Principal to pay an encouraging and inspiring visit. The invitation was generously accepted. Mr. Chakrabarty organized the visit at his best and made program. Accordingly, in the month of October Mr. Kamal Uddin Ahmed, the representative of UNICEF and the Principal along with all the 124 trainees of PTI Center went to visit the demonstration farm of Rudrapur Primary School. Mr. Ahmed overwhelmingly became impressed seeing the unprecedented farm works done by the teachers and students. He was also charmed to observing the people's participation in the school program. After the visit the UNICEF representative wrote a report on it and sent it to the residential representative of UNICEF in Bangladesh. This report anyhow was brought to light and the name and fame of Rudrapur Primary School with Naresh Chakrabarty spread all around. Learning this unique endeavor of Rudrapur Primary School educationists from national and international levels rushed to Rudrapur to visit the new teaching-learning process of agricultural education - the education open for all.

On the basis of the report of Mr. Ahmed, UNICEF Representative Mr. Keith Warren visited the School. He observed three demonstration plots of sugarcane cultivation practices that showed technological differences between improved and traditional system of sugarcane cultivation. He was impressed and termed the system of education as life oriented non-formal education. Through this visit life oriented non formal education of Rudrapur Primary School got momentum internationally. Very judiciously the BBC broadcast the glorious success story of Rudrapur Primary School that brought highly esteemed reputation for Mr. Naresh Chakrabarty. Surprisingly the then Agricultural Minister Mr. Azizul Hoque visited Rudrapur and he saw that teachers were trying to cultivate China cabbage having an idea that its leaves would be tied and compact as like as cabbage. However, the Minister had knowledge about China cabbage and told the teachers that it would not be curl, tied and compact like cabbage but it could be eaten by cutting leaves one by one. Once its leaves are cut then new leaves grow. People of Rudrapur still remember the China cabbage story.

In October 1976, Fr. Colombo, an Italian Priest, on behalf of Dhanjhuri Mission came to Dinajpur. He met Mr. Paul Charwa Tigga, Regional Director of CARITAS of Dinajpur area and asked him to manage a car to visit Rudrapur. Visit to Rudrapur means visit the extracurricular academic activities of Rudrapur Primary School. Mr. Paul Tigga also became interested to visit Rudrapur and he accompanied Fr. Colombo on the particular day. During this visit Paul Tigga had an opportunity to learn and know all the teachers of the school. Later, he developed cordial relationship with Mr. Naresh Chakrabarty. This visit pushed the development oriented activities of the school toward new dimension of socioeconomic development in general but village development in particular.

Mr. Paul Tigga has vast knowledge on development activities. During liberation war he had extraordinary experience of development work in refugee camp of Bangdhimali in Jalpaiguri through India CARITAS. After independence, he joined CORR and later in CARITAS and gradually he became the Regional Director of Dinajpur area. He invented development-education-development idea from Rudrapur Primary School with the collaboration of Late Nibaron Roy and Naresh Chakrabarty.

After that the course of development of Rudrapur was expanding steadily and rapidly. Mr. Paul C. Tigga sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly was helping development initiative of local people. Mr. Chakrabarty frequently visited the residence of Mr. Paul Tigga in Dinajpur and indulged in discussion about different dimensions of non-formal education and development. To accelerate development activities at Rudrapur he (Mr. Paul Tigga) generously, donated Taka 5000 to the school fund of Rudrapur from his own budget. Then he offered a chance for Mr. Chakrabarty to be a trainer of the schools situated in Dinajpur district run under CARITAS. In course of time, Mr. Paul Tigga and Mr. Chakrabarty became so good companions that they felt self-urge to meet and talk themselves in every evening till dead night to discuss bringing about new issues of development. "Having received donation from Mr. Paul C. Tigga, Mr. Chakrabarty started development work with strong enthusiasm. He then shifted his working place from school room to a nearby separate place by making Gono-Aloy, which was full of jungle. In fact, this is now known as Dipshikha Rudrapur area office. Gono-Aloy means the people's common house where every village people had excess to participate in the village development program. Initially Gono-Aloy started the following programs:

  • Adult education
  • Group formation
  • Education for Children

Their partnership was so friendly and so closely that Mr. Paul Tigga developed an intrinsic responsibility to invite Mr. Chakrabaty to be present in the local seminars and workshops organized by CARITAS. Mr. Chakrabarty utilized the opportunity wisely and came in contact with many dedicated development workers of different organizations and successfully could widen his knowledge of horizon. Mr. Chakrabarty was selected as executive member of CARITAS, Bangladesh - a rare honor for him obtaining unprecedented direct help from Mr. Paul Tigga. Being the executive member of CARITAS, he created many opportunities for the youth folk of Rudrapur to receive training on income generating and other developmental activities. Many youths received training organized by CARITAS at this time. It is Mr. Paul Tigga who took first Mr. Chakrabarty in Dhaka also. Before that he never visited Dhaka - the capital city of Bangladesh. During this time social development and tree plantation activities had been launched organizationally. The students, teachers of Rudrapur primary school and local rural youths joyfully joined the tree plantation program sponsored by CARITAS. It is needless to say that this program was launched with the direct assistance of Mr. Paul Tigga. The Rain trees planted in the school premise still standing and bear the sweet memory.

CARITAS played a great role to involve Rudrapur Primary School in social and economic development activities. It is known from the treatise written by Talukder (1994) that once some women from Rudrapur were invited to participate in a training program organized by CARITAS. The trainee had to live in the dormitory. An aborigine woman used to cook there. The Trainee women of Rudrapur denied eating food cooked by aborigine. However, due to social education this type of social values have been changed among Rudrapur women and as a result now they eat in the Dipshikha training center with no question 'who cooked ?'

The school centered development work of Rudrapur village became outward since the involvement Mr. Paul Tigga of CARITAS with it. He sponsored many youth women and other interested youths to participate in the training programs and seminars to learn development experience conducted by different organizations. Mr. Chakrabarty and Mr. Paul Tigga together participated in many seminars and workshops. Being a high official of CARITAS, Mr. Paul Tigga was the source of information about trainings and seminars to be held where and when and he accordingly asked Mr. Chakrabarty to attend those trainings and seminars. At the same time any new information applicable to Rudrapur climax achieved by them was delivered to Rudrapur by Mr. Chakrabarty. Thus, the development process of Rudrapur Primary School turned toward village-socioeconomic development. This was the real unforgettable epoch-momentum of Dipshikha's emergence.

In one day of 1976 Mr. Paul Tigga went to Dhaka for an official visit to CARITAS Head Quarter and night halted in the Tejkunipara, Dhaka rest house of CARITAS. At that moment, Br. Frank - a French citizen was also present in the rest house. As the night halt boarders they had chance to meet and talk and exchange views on development issue. Br. Frank known as TAIZE Brother actually was going to Chittagong - his work place. In course of their discussion, Br. Frank invited Mr. Paul Tigga to attend in a seminar of TAIZE community to be held at Askerdighi of Chittagong. Mr. Paul Tigga informed Mr. Chakrabarty about the seminar and both of them participated in the seminar. Mr. Paul Tigga himself described nicely how he met Br. Frank and Fr. Klause and attended the seminar in his own words. He said that most probably in the year of 1976, he met a TAIZE brother from France at CARITAS guest house in Dhaka. His name was Br. Frank and he was working in Chittagong among the youth. He asked Mr. Paul Tigga who he was and took his introduction. When Br. Frank came to know that Mr. Paul Tigga was the Regional Director of CARITAS, Dinajpur, he (Br. Frank) asked and invited Mr. Paul Tigga to attend a TAIZE workshop for the youth in Chittagong. Mr. Paul Tigga attended the workshop with Naresh Chakrabarty. There Mr. Paul Tigga met Fr. Klause Buerle who was also a TAIZE brother and working with Br. Frank. After that Mr. Paul Tigga and Mr. Chakrabarty invited Fr. Klause to visit CARITAS activities at Dinajpur. As they (Mr. Paul C. Tigga and Mr. Chakrabarty) were not much convinced of TAIZE approach of development work, they proposed Fr. Klause to shift his approach from urban to rural. Fr. Klause accepted their invitation and proposal. This was the beginning of partnership between Dipshikha and Shanti.

Fr. Klause, a German citizen came to Bangladesh at the end of 1974 and participated in the development activities of Bangladesh begun with the youths of Chittagong region. In response to the invitation made by Mr. Paul Tigga and Mr. Chakrabarty he visited Rudrapur in one fine day of 1977 and became amazed seeing the people's interest on development issue; but at the same time he was shocked to see and observe miserable condition of the people. Recognizing rural youths' enthusiasm and felt need to work with rural poor he prepared himself holding a high value attitude to alleviate poverty of down trodden poor people. Then he was associated as a member of development team work of Rudrapur.

At the same time Mahbubul Alam Chashi, a government bureaucrat started 'Sawnirvar Andolon (Self Reliant Movement)' all over Bangladesh. He rushed from village to village. Arriving at Dinajpur for his self-reliant activities he heard about the approach of rural development going on at Rudrapur, which seemed to be new to him. Then he paid a courtesy visit to Rudrapur and introduced with Mr. Naresh Chakrabarty, Mr. Nibaron Chandra Roy, and Mr. Paul Tigga. He was totally charmed and motivated with the developmental idea and approach. Then being a high value personality he cordially associated with the local development program and visited Rudrapur many times and halted many nights in a dilapidated room of Rudrapur primary school.

During the same time span Mr. Gopesh Chandra Roy, the Head Master of Rudrapur High School resigned and joined Bishnupur High School. So, the authority of Rudrapur High School was looking for a new Head Master. At that time Mr. Mufakh-Kharul Islam (Papa) was the Head Master of Atgaon High School. The representative of governing body of Rudrapur High School contacted with Mr. Papa and requested him to join Rudrapur High School. He honored the interest and eagerness of people of Rudrapur and decided to join Rudrapur High School as Head Master. So, he joined and no sooner became the partner of development work of Rudrapur.