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3 Aug 2017

Hills schools start off-site classes after 2-month hiatus

Somdatta Basu | TNN | Aug 3, 2017, Kolkata: Hills schools have found a solution to minimise the effect of the ongoing statehood agitation on the students. Since the campuses are out of bounds, the students are being taught at temporary facilities in Siliguri, Kolkata and even Darjeeling.
The schools started teaching the students on Wednesday, after a gap of nearly two months. So, while boarders are being taught in temporary facilities in Siliguri and Kolkata, day scholars are being taught by some schools in the heart of Darjeeling itself. There are even teachers who are trudging up difficult hill terrain to access final-year students.
St Joseph's North Point has been the standard-bearer in this initiative. It has hired Hayden Hall on Laden La Road in Darjeeling to accommodate classes for local students, while it has invited all its boarders to the Jesuit House in Siliguri, where all 100 of them, from classes X and XII, have been accommodated. Parents of both categories of students were called for meetings, where their permissions were sought. "There is a bit of risk involved, where children have to walk all the way to Hayden Hall for their classes. But parents agreed because it is a question of the kids' future. We chose this place because it is in the heart of Darjeeling and easier accessed than the school campus, which is in Singmari, at the vortex of the agitation," said a senior teacher. Classes are happening for only a couple of hours. Makeshift classrooms and dormitories have come up at Jesuit House, Matigara, Siliguri, under the care of Father Kinley Tshering, the provincial. At least 10 teachers from the school have shifted base to Siliguri to teach here, leaving their families in Darjeeling.
St Paul's has similarly hired a building in Siliguri and converted its interiors to accommodate classrooms and dormitories. It has shifted many of its teachers too to keep classes running. Mount Hermon School will send 18 students to Calcutta Girls' School (CGS) as well as Dankuni Methodist School. "The school is closed and there is no definite information when they can start classes in the Hills. All the students who are being transferred to Kolkata are from classes X and XII. They are missing valuable time to complete the syllabus. As a result, the church authorities have been forced to relocate them to the city," said Kamalaksha Sardar, administrator of Mount Hermon School and secretary of Calcutta Christian Schools Society, the founding body of eight schools in Bengal. Day scholars have also not been left in the lurch. Teachers are visiting boys and girls at home to help them.
A large number of boarders across schools are from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Thailand. "Parents have checked out the alternative facilities," Sardar said. Classes for Mount Hermon will begin from next week. Gems Academia International has enrolled four students from St Paul's School, Darjeeling.

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