Pramod Giri, Aug 11 2017

Source: Hindustan Times

SILIGURI: Schools in north Bengal hills have started making alternative arrangements for students facing board examinations in 2018 as the indefinite shutdown called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) is creeping towards the two-month mark with no end in sight.

The shutdown, which rolled on to its 57th day on Thursday, has posed a stiff challenge to all sections and students of dozens of schools that dot the hills. Among them, those facing the board exams have been hit the hardest.

Schools in Darjeeling and Kurseong were to reopen on July 8 and those in Kalimpong on June 27. But with the Gorkhaland agitators refusing to budge, there is no certainty when normalcy would return on the campuses.

Some schools have started offsite classes in Siliguri, about 80 km away, and others are trying to make the best use of the ‘relaxation’ given by the GJM for teaching students due to appear for board exams.

Among the schools that have started these classes are St Paul’s School that was set up in 1864, St Joseph’s School, St Anthony’s School, and Himali Boarding School.

“From Monday, we have started coaching classes for our Class 10 and 12 students in Siliguri. We have to clear the syllabus backlog and help the students for the board exams,” said Robindra Subba, director of Himali Boarding School.

About 200 Himali students are attending classes at Silpanchal Bhawan in Siliguri.

St Joseph’s School (North Point), which was set up in 1888, is holding classes at a Christian missionary centre in Bagdogra on the outskirts of Siliguri from August 1. Father Shajuman, the rector of St Joseph’s School, said: “At the Bagdogra centre, 80 boarders and 20 day scholars are attending the classes.”

This time, 226 St Joseph’s boys would appear in the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and Indian School Certificate (ISC) examinations.

Some of the schools have also rented community halls in the hills to teach the students. For day scholars, arrangements for coaching classes have been made in Darjeeling.

Prakash Pradhan, director of Kalimpong’s Rockvale Academy, said, “Soon we will start coaching classes for a set of students in Siliguri. We have made a separate arrangement for another set of students in Kalimpong only.”