Two students from Bengal's tribal belt, studying in Kolkata's famous South Point School has passed Class 10 boards with flying colours, reported NDTV.
While 18-year-old Mahadeb Bagal got 83.6 per cent, Rohit Mandi scored 74 per cent. Rohit comes from Belpahari, which lies around 209 km west of Kolkata, and Mahadeb comes from Gidhni, about 25 km away from Belapahari. Both the villages lie in the heart of Bengal's tribal belt, which was also the hotbed of Maoist activity when the two boys were growing up.
While Rohit's father is a bank employee, Mahadeb's father is a daily wager. The two were classmates at the Belpahari SC School in Class 6 in 2015, when, under the instruction of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the two, along with nine other students from this belt were sent to South Point School in Kolkata.
Considered among the most elite English medium schools in the city, South Point School is also the alma mater of Nobel-winning economist Abhijit Banerjee.
"I couldn't frame sentences in English. So I really struggled with history and geography," Rohit told the media. The situation was similar for Mahadeb. "I could understand (English) words but not speak. It was really difficult," he said.
The boys stayed at a government-run hostel for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe children at Salt Lake and the government. The government also organised language and other subject tuitions for them.
While class 7 was difficult, the boys soon got a command over English. In their class 10 boars, Mahdeb and Rohit scored 91 per cent and 83 per cent, respectively, in English.
Both will continue their studies at South Point in Class XI and XII. While both wanted to take up the science stream, they couldn't find a seat in the stream and were counselled by teachers to take up commerce. While Mahadeb had wanted to become a computer engineer, Rohit wants to become an IAS officer.
"There were concerns about how the boys would adjust at South Point. Because children can be cruel sometimes. But we played up their strengths, their successes in athletics and teachers kept an eye out on any attempt at bullying. There were really none," said Principal Rupa Sanyal Bhattacharya.