Good Samaritan:Teaching children free of cost

Kendrapara: A 62-year-old man has been teaching children in a village in Kendrapara district for the last 40 years for free, making him the toast of the villagers. Balaram Das` name does not figure on the panel of teachers of the government-run Gobindapur Upper Primary School as he made it clear at the time of joining that he would not want remuneration for his `mission to educate all`.

At ten O` clock sharp in the morning Das arrives in his bi-cycle without fail and this has been going on for the last 40 years, the headmaster of the school, Ashok Kumar Sahu, said. Sahu said, "He is an excellent teacher. The method of teaching adopted by him is unique. He is widely loved and respected in the village," Sahu said.

Officially, no outsider is allowed to teach in government schools, but an exception was made for Das considering his passion to teach, he said. However, as a token of appreciation for his service to the cause of education, Das is paid Rs 500 per month. Though he had declined to accept the sum initially, he acquised later, Sahu added.

Ever-humble Das said, "I believe lack of education is the root cause of all evils and malaise. Our village had no access to primary education and when the primary school was set up, many parents could not afford to admit their wards because of povery. So I thought it was my duty to teach them.“

He said his `mission` began in 1971 when he started teaching poor children of the village for whom there was no access to education poverty-stricken as they were. "After the government set up the school in the village in the late seventies, I took up classroom teaching on villagers` demand", Das recalled.

The man took to agriculture for his livelihood. The villagers used to help him voluntarily whenever he needed them. "Many gave him money by which he could marry off his two daughters," said Subhransu Sutar, a social activist.