The two-year course, Diploma in Elementary Education (D. El. Ed), is mandatory for any one to get a Government job as a primary school teacher. Eligibility for this diploma program requires a candidate to have passed class XII with a minimum of 55 per cent marks. The two-year course, which starts in July each year, costs about Rs 66,000 (approx. USD 1,000) for two years including admission and tuition fees. The hostel fees which costs Rs 1,800 per month is charged extra.
“As many of our rural young people do not qualify either academically or financially, for this government-recognised diploma course, we have come up with a one-year program providing the same training for half the cost,” says Br Mondol, who has an MA in Education from the Salesian University in Rome.
“The only condition,” says Br Mondol, a former Youth Affairs director of Kolkata Salesians, “is that the candidates must have passed class XII.”
Br Mondol adds, “These budding teachers, as they teach in primary schools, will also continue with their studies so that they will be qualified and full-fledged teachers one day; this is the dream of every trainee."
The third batch of students of the program, namely Miss Aruna Soreng, Miss Anju Sreshta, Miss Sonam Rai and Miss Phulamu Sherpa are ready to fly out on 24 June from the nearest airport Bagdogra in North Bengal to Calicut in Kerala, South India.
“These girls from Siliguri plains and Kalimpong hills are children of daily labourers who cannot afford the two-year program,” explains Br Mondol, who is proud of their performance.
“They are offered, besides a starting salary of Rs 9,000, free food and accommodation on campus, free Montessori training as well as awards and recognition for outstanding teachers, as well as incentives for the best performers,” says Salesian College Sonada alumnus Mr. Jince Joseph who runs Kidzone Play School and Montessori at Vattachira near Calicut in Kerala.
Miss Pratima Subba, who got placement in a private school in Bhagalpur in Bihar, is offered Rs 15,000 with free accommodation and is charged Rs 500 as a nominal cafeteria fee.
Vincentian Father Fabian, who was interviewing candidates for his upcoming De Paul school in Jalalkhalli near Krishnagar in Nadia district of West Bengal, is offering Rs 14,000 per month with free food and accommodation.
Fr Fabian says, “I find these girls very smart, energetic and talented. Besides their fluency in English language, they seem to have a natural ability to handle children.”
The only boy in the batch is Mr Kewal Tamang, who graduated from St George School in Pedong, is still waiting for placement.
The two-year Teacher Training Course (TTC) has 15 students each year while the one-year program has 30 students.
Other diploma courses at Don Bosco Technical School Kalimpong include Office Management, Computer Application, Automobile Mechanic, Electrician & Wiremen, Hotel Management, Tourism, Meet & Greet, Beautician, Motor Driving Practice, Personality Development and Spoken English.
Of these, three Governments of West Bengal certificate courses under Utkarsh Bangla are totally free. They are 3-month course in Hotel Management (Food & Beverage, and House Keeping) and Electrician.
Utkarsh Bangla, West Bengal’s flagship skill development programme for youth designed under the guidance of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has been declared a ‘Champion Project’ at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), a United Nations organisation working for the use and development of information and communication technology (ICT).
By Fr C.M. Paul, SDB