Teacher in a cop's robe
The tuition session has brought back smiles on the faces of these little children. It is a precious gift to me,’’ said Chatterjee.
Prasenjit Chatterjee’s sharp eyes never miss rogue motorists jumping traffic signals and zigzagging along busy thoroughfares violating the traffic rule book. So it didn’t miss the sight of a group of children aged between six to eight years sitting on a cycle van and reading textbooks near the railway tracks. Chatterjee, the officer-in-charge of the southwest traffic guard in Kolkata, was touched by the determination of these children from financially stressed families living in a local shanty nearby. This traffic police officer didn’t give a second thought and decided to do something about it.
Hence from that day onwards, Chatterjee initiated starting coaching classes for these kids and turned to his subordinates for help. Chatterjee sought his colleagues to volunteer and help arrange regular coaching classes for primary-class children by the railway tracks near Majherhat railway station in the southern part of the state capital. Children whose parents could not afford private tuition are being taught in open air for two hours every day by the police personnel of the traffic guard.
“It was August 11 and I was patrolling the area as usual. While passing through the shanty area, known as Madhu Bustee, I saw a group of boys sitting on a cycle van and leaning on something. I got curious and got down from my vehicle and went closer towards them. Upon reaching their cycle van, I was surprised to see the children were trying to study on their own,’’ recounted Chatterjee.
The traffic police officer, who is known for carrying out welfare works, asked his staff members to start a coaching class from that day. “We are doing it with basic amenities. A board and a marker pen to teach the children. The tuition session has brought back smiles on the faces of these little children. It is a precious gift to me,’’ said Chatterjee. With 30 odd students, the coaching class is being held in two shifts to teach students up to Class IV.
“As most of the parents of these children are daily wage earners, and have to leave the kids behind, I decided to contribute within my capacity to help them. In most of the families in the shanty areas, parents work as domestic helps or daily wage earners. If my effort proves useful, it will be a real help for these families,” said Chatterjee.
Biplab Mandal is happy with his new ‘teachers’ who used to be scared of them a month ago. “All of us used to get scared seeing police a few days ago. When these police uncles and aunts told us that they would help us to study, we were so happy,’’ said the student of Class IV, son of a daily labourer.
The children are being taught Hindi, English and Maths. The traffic police-run coaching class has drawn a great response. The parents of the kids attending the classes expressed their gratitude to the men in uniform. “I work as a driver of a private bus. I am facing an acute fund crunch and struggling to earn bread and butter for my family. I cannot think of affording private tuitions for my daughter studying in Class III,’’ said Gopal Shaw, a father of three
Priyanka Naskar, a Class III student was missing her classes in school. “I could not understand English. A police aunt who is teaching me now. I am feeling like I am in school,’’ she said.