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'Love' school

Love guru

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BATTLE FOR HEARTS: By setting up the school, Chaudhary and Julie want to take their fight against repressive social mores one step further

Remember Matuk Nath Chaudhary, the Patna professor whose extra-marital affair with a student went public leading to his dismissal from service in 2009? He now plans to open a "love school" in his native village in Bhagalpur district where he will have classes on meditation, agricultural science, painting and other such pursuits besides teaching students the text book syllabus.

In 2006, Chaudhary, a much-married Hindi teacher at the Bihar National College in Patna, had an affair with his student, Julie. The clandestine affair came to light when Abha, his estranged wife, led the police and a TV crew to a room where the professor was locked in a passionate embrace with his beloved. It has been a trial by fire for the couple since then, with both Chaudhary and Julie being humiliated by mobs who blackened their faces in the presence of the media. But the couple has kept up the fight.

Chaudhary moved the high court to reinstate him soon after being dismissed from his job, and the decision to terminate his employment was revoked in November last year by Governor Devanand Konwar who also serves as chancellor of Patna University.

Now, with plans to set up a 'love school', the couple aims to take their battle to change social mindsets to the next level. The school, called Jivan Jagriti Vidyapeeth, is coming up in Chaudhary's native village of Jayrampur in Bhagalpur district. Spread over 3. 5 acres of land, classrooms from nursery to Class VII have already been built. Half the land is Chaudhary's ancestral property and he bought the rest. He says the focus of the school will be to bring about the well-being of his students through the medium of "love". Apart from the syllabus there will also be an emphasis on extra-curricular activities. "Love for the arts" is one thing Chaudhary wants to emphasise.

He says he came up with the idea because he is extremely discontented with the contemporary education system. "In schools today, teachers induce a spirit of competition among students, but the real need is to compete with oneself. I should be better than I was - that is the teaching children should receive, " he says.

The idea has generated mixed reactions among students in Patna. Saurav Das, a 19-year-old BCA student, ridicules the proposal. "This is an effort on his part to hide his mistake, " he says. Others are less harsh in their judgement. Dipika Tiwari, a postgraduate student of literature at Patna University, says that Chaudhary's past is hard to forget. She says that she can understand a love that transcends the bounds of age, religion and community but that social realities are different.
Chaudhary, however, believes otherwise. He says that people in his village are excited about his school and he expects a flood of applications at the time of opening. He expects the school to start operations by early 2014.

But education at the school will come with a hefty price tag. Chaudhary explains that this is because the teachers will have more than just BEd degrees - they will be understanding mentors who are keen to have "healthy and liberal" ties with their pupils. Such dedicated teachers would naturally need to be well paid, and this cost would be passed on to the parents.

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