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The ‘Tree School’, a brainchild of Farakka resident Anshuman Thakur

13 June, 2023 16:29:33
The ‘Tree School’, a brainchild of Farakka resident Anshuman Thakur

‘In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike’ ― Paulo Coelho

Trees cannot speak in human language, they cannot voice their grievances, their protests and hence political manifestos choose to look the other way and ignore the existential yearning of trees on earth. But it is dichotomic that humans are both destroyer and preserver -- they fell and destroy trees and they plant and nurture trees as well. Tree is our collective inheritance and our duty to take care of our legacy. Trees cannot speak but what if a group of children speak on behalf of trees? The ‘Tree School’ is the brainchild of Anshuman Thakur, a resident of Farakka in Murshidabad district. Before the lockdown was imposed this year to battle Covid-19 menace, a band of kids had been flocking at the site, playing mirthfully, reciting poems, singing and learning their lessons joyously and Anshuman and his friends were nurturing these ‘little saplings’ to prepare them for a meaningful life ahead.

The Tree School has been set up at Shamlapur village in the Bagdabara region of Farakka in Murshidabad district. This area has a very high concentration of Adivasi people belonging to different Scheduled Tribes. Thakur wanted to launch the school in the middle of nature, so in March 2021, he started the ‘Tree School’ literally under a tree. Children from poverty-stricken Adivasi families who are deprived of proper school education due to acute financial duress, have been inducted as pupils in the informal Tree School. Here they study the usual subjects taught in schools and are sensitized about the importance of nurturing nature. They are taught how to take care of plants and trees. 

Thakur discussed his group’s future plans for the school in a tete a tete and said, “Our sole objective is to spread education among the poverty-stricken socially backward Adivasi children and stimulate consciousness about nature in them. Most of the children of the area are malnourished and we have organized to distribute eggs to the kids twice a week but the government’s imposition of lockdown following a sharp spike in Covid-19 cases put an abrupt halt to our programme. Children were compelled to stay indoors, and this jeopardized their regular studies and access to meals at school. At this juncture, patrons stepped forward with financial aid. With their help, the Tree Foundation initiated to provide lunch for all the Tree School students from May 25.  We have ensured to provide food for the children during the entire lockdown period.” 


Thakur shared the foundation’s future road map. The members of the foundation plan to buy a plot in the locality and build a mud house and shift the school there. The Adivasi children will study nature and develop close ties with the environment. Their free-spirited souls will be nurtured and encouraged to soar high and fulfill their dreams and aspirations. He said they have plans to provide vocational training to the children so that they can hone their skills and when they grow up, they can be independent and earn their livelihood.  

Thakur and his team plan to run the Tree School in the manner propagated by Rabindranath Tagore and followed at Santiniketan. The tree is ‘contemplating’ about the children, their education and their nutrition. Tagore’s ‘Chhinnaptarabali’ (literally means torn letters) is an anthology of letters published in 1912. It is a compilation of letters he wrote on myriad subjects. In letter number 13, he writes, “I love the vast silent earth that lies there with its bounty -- its trees, rivers, meadows, its din and bustle, its tranquility, everything – I yearn to seize everything with my two hands.” These are the expressions of an innocent child, simple and uncomplicated. ‘There is an ancient adage, ‘All our wisdom is stored in the trees. Likewise, saplings will gradually thrive to become trees and so will the Tree School flourish over time. 

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