Around 450 kms away from the 'City of Joy,' Kolkata, Dakshin Dinajpur is ranked 256th out of 560 backward districts in India. Nestled between India and Bangladesh, this boarder district has neither a prosperous present nor a glorious past. During the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, the population of Balurghat, the district's headquarters of Dakshin Dinajpur, shot high from 5, 000 to 50, 000, creating several socio-economic and socio-educational problems. Like many border regions in the east and north of the country, Dakshin Dinajpur has not completely recovered from this exodus. Apparently, in the process of elevating the status of India from being a British colony to a developing economic powerhouse, the rulers of the new and independent India conveniently forgot about the developments of Dinajpur region, especially its education sector.
The endless efforts by the college have, in fact, made it the first college where 99 students out of 100 obtained 1st class in the session 2004-05.
However, people in this part of the country have already seen worst of the times. Now, they would unite to do anything, not to survive, but to thrive as a community. Balurghat Educational Promotion and Welfare Trust is one such enterprise created by group of distinguished personalities in Balurghat. Since 2004, the Trust has been producing trained teachers in order to improve the quality of teaching at the school level and promote education through Balurghat B.Ed. College. "Dakshin Dinajpur is primarily an agro-dominated district with its maximum portion of area being rural, where economic activity varies with the variation of agricultural seasons. Since, a large chunk of its people belonging to the tribal classes, it is almost impossible for people to manage money to undergo higher education in bigger cities like Kolkata," explains Dr. Bobby Mahanta, Principal, Balurghat B.Ed College.
Affiliated first to the University of North Bengal (2004-2008), then to the University of Gour Banga (2009-2017) and presented to the West Bengal University of Teachers' Training, Education Planning and Administration, Kolkota, Balurghat B.Ed. College, a ray of hope for many aspiring teachers for getting proper training and education, is the first self-financing college in North Bengal with NAAC and UGC enlisted college under 2(f) & 12(B). The college since establishment has proved to be a blessing for the millennial by offering a range of full-time and certificate courses and distance education. In addition to regular two-year B.Ed, M.Ed. and D.El.Ed. courses, the college offers B.Ed. programme through distance mode (IGNOU & NSOU) to students who are unable to physically attend classes. "We have introduced Spoken English and Foreign Language Courses in collaboration with BBC and supported by The British Institute (a division of the British Institute of Engineering Technology India), Kolkata," adds Dr. Mahanta.
Modern Approach to Teaching
Dr. Mahanta opines, "Today, the world is a place of more chaos all-around where looking into the mental health of our students is our duty. Hence, we initiated Yoga Education along with Health and Physical Education which in return boost effective learning." The entire teaching-learning process occurs using I.C.T based modules in smart classrooms. The sprawling environment-friendly campus of the institute is equipped with facilities like full-fledged computer labs, sophisticated LCD projectors, smart boards for teachers to use ICT more fruitfully, Multipurpose and Conference Halls, large playground which is used for regular outdoor sports and so on.
To teach the prospective teachers, the instructors of the college undertake several teaching techniques and follow an individualized instruction system. Each student is mentored at an allotted time where they can share their expectations, ambitions, personal issues and doubts. "The instructors give tips to students regarding the improvement in needy areas including practice teaching," pinpoints Dr. Mahanta. Comprehending the variety of students in terms of slow and advanced learners, the faculty members use different techniques and assure the progress. Several Oral tests, Unit test, Pre-test, practice teaching and Test examination are held further to evaluate the students.
"We have also adopted the strategy of the flipped classroom, where learning is delivered going beyond the traditional way, outside the classroom. Moreover, for gaining optimum practical training, our students undertake School Internship Programme for 4-month and Pre School Internship programme for 1-month," says Dr. Mahanta. The endless efforts by the college have, in fact, made it the first college where 99 students out of 100 obtained 1st class in the session 2004-05. In the session 2005-2006 when most of the training colleges (Government as well as Self-financing) were technically de-affiliated and de-recognized by the order of the Hon'ble High Court, Calcutta, Balurghat B.Ed. College was assessed and regarded as the only valid college in North Bengal and its recognition and affiliation remained unaffected. The placement prospects of the students are also taken care of, for which the college has set up an Employment and Career Counseling Cell, tied with Galaxy Consultancy, Kolkata that puts information regarding job advertisements, notifications on post-graduation, other job-oriented courses and so on.
In addition to that, a personal counseling cell consisting of a few empathetic teachers and other members has also been assigned to help students overcome tensions and frustrations and solve personal problems arising out of academic weakness. "The college arranges special coaching for grooming of the students for competitive examinations and jobs in different public and private sectors in India as well as those in foreign countries," claims Dr. Mahanta. Enjoying the status of a training institute of excellence in the region, the college envisions upgrading the college into a Deemed University in the next couple of years.
Dr. Bobby Mahanta, Principal
Serving as the Principal and Ex-officio Secretary, Governing Body of Balurghat B Ed College, Dr. Bobby Mahanta is a Ph.D. and a Gold medalist in MA along with holding degrees like M.Ed., Diploma in Management, PGDHE and B.Ed. She is a recipient of Certificate of Appreciation from Government of India, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), was invited to witness the Republic Day Parade, 2002 from the Prime Minister's Box on Rajpath, New Delhi as a Guest of the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India; and has been given "Dr. Anjana Sharma Memorial Young Educationist Award 2015" and Accomplished Teacher Educator Award-2017 in recognition and appreciation of her extraordinary contributions and performance.