Kolkata: Poverty had forced them to dropout of school and work for a livelihood. But their teacher did not give up.
Manojit Dutta, a man on a mission to bring dropouts back to school, is now on Cloud Nine. His three students have scored well in the West Bengal Higher Secondary Examination this year.
Howrah district's Pradipta Mondal had cleared his secondary (class 10) exams with flying colours only to become a worker in a brick kiln.
Being the eldest son of the family, studying was luxury he could not afford anymore.
Three years hence, Mondal, with over 75 percent marks in the higher secondary examination, is the topper of his school, courtesy the efforts of Dutta, his teacher at the Shibganj Bisalaxmi High School.
"Ever since I started my career as a teacher I would see many bright students dropping out due to poverty. I could not help but regret. Later, I took it up as a mission, a challenge, to bring them back to school," Dutta, who runs a hostel where students like Mondal stay and study, told IANS.
Having retired from Shibganj Bisalaxmi High School, Dutta now teaches at the Jagacha Unsani Junior High School in Howrah.
Like Mondal, sisters Priya and Priyanka Das too had dropped out of Shibganj Bisalaxmi High School and started selling incense sticks to help their family make ends meet.
The Das sisters still sell incense but they are also students who passed the higher secondary with over 70 percent marks this year.
Sixty-three-year-old Dutta, who has a family of three, spends almost all his money in ensuring that poverty does not come in the way of his bright students.
"I cannot ask the students not to work because then their family will starve. So they work in their spare time and send all the money to their families," said Dutta, who started his hostel in 2006.
It now houses 14 students who had left studies midway due to poverty.
"Dutta's contribution in bringing dropouts back to the school is immense," school principal Apurba Das said.
Several of Dutta's students are now pursuing higher education from prestigious institutions.
"Biswajit Mondal after clearing his class 10 had to work as helper to his mason father. But now he is in his final year of computer engineering at Jadavpur University. He has promised he will help me in my effort to bring dropouts back to school," said Dutta.
Apart from running a hostel, he has been financing several poor students.
"My remuneration for all my efforts is the sense of pride I get seeing my students perform well," says Dutta, who is a triple M.A (in Bengali, ancient history and islamic history) and a B.Sc. degree in chemistry.