A father-son duo in Odisha’s coastal district of Balasore cleared matric examination from an open school with same marks, results of which were announced on Monday.
Father Arun Kumar Bej, 58, a senior district BJP leader, had to leave his studies because of death of his father when he was in class VII and his 30-year-old son Kumar Biswajit Bej was unable to clear his matric examination, a few years ago. The two were the only non matriculates in their family.
Bej was, however, a happy man when cleared the annual board examination as a student of Odisha State Open School with more than 60 per cent marks. In Bej household it was in fact a moment of added joy as his younger son too passed the exam with 342 mark, the same as his father.
Like the National Institute of Open School, the Odisha State Open School, an autonomous body was started in 2016 under Human Right Protection Act 1993 that allows school drop-outs to appear for the matric examination without attending schools.
This year, 13,387 students had written the matriculation examination under Odisha State Open School of which 41.93 % students cleared the examination.
While the lack of a formal school certificate did not prevent Bej’s influence in local politics, it always rankled him. “My daughter, elder son, daughter-in-law and son-in-law are all educated. Though I could read and write, the lack of education was always a point of discussion at my home. I had to leave the education column in my 2014 election affidavit blank. I felt guilty,” said Bej over phone from his residence.
Kumar Biswajit too left studies midway when he flunked the Class 10 exam in 2004. Upset over the exam results, the younger Bej did not write the examination again and instead took to business. He opened a stationery store in his village which is doing well.
“In our family we were the only two who did not clear matric. I thought if I appear for matric, may be my younger son would be motivated. Since last year, both of us went to a nearby school every Sunday and attended the open school programme. I think both of us did quite well,” senior Bej said.
Balasore district BJP president Madan Mohan Dutta said success of Bej proved that there is no age limit for education. “It’s a lifelong process. I feel happy for him,” said Dutta.
Having passed matric, Bej now says he can now proudly fill up the education column if he gets party ticket in 2019 assembly polls. “I want to now enrol for higher education in IGNOU. I may lose the polls, but I would no longer be a man without an educational achievement.”
Bej had contested 2014 assembly election from Jaleswar assembly constituency but he lost his security deposit securing only about 13000-odd votes.