Rangamati Charukola Academy
A dedicated person who has been working amidst the small children of Rangamati Hill District for the last 27 years trying to create an enlightened new generation is now passing his life as a recluse in an art school in Rangamati.
He is known in the district for his dedication to the cause of art and culture. He is Rati Kanta Tangchangya, the Principal of an art school called “Rangamati Charukola Academy”.
Rati Kanta Tangchangya, 65, son of late Shikalchan Mohajan of village Baradamof Kutubdia mouza of Bilaichhari of Rangamati was born in 1941. His home and landed property went under Kaptai Lake water during the installation of Kaptai Hydroelectric Power Plant in the 1960s. After that he settled at Balaghata in Bandarban where his wife died in 1968. He then returned to Rangamati and decided to engage himself in philanthropic work.
After coming back to Rangamati, Rati Kanta established an art schools “Rangamati Charukola Academy”, on a ten decimal piece of land at Kathaltali Moitre Bihar area on his own initiative in 1979. The then Deputy Commissioner, Md. Shafiqul Islam, gave him the land on lease to construct the institution permanently. Rati had, in fact, initiated a kind of work that could have been possible only by him and no one else in the locality.
At first, he started his school with only a few students in 1979. Gradually, the number has increased. Now some 300 students are attending his academy. Charukola Academy has acquired much goodwill since its inception. The students of the institution have so far bagged a total of one thousand prizes, at divisional, national and international levels of exhibitions and competitions over the last twenty-five years.
Many eminent artists and poets including internationally famous SM Sultan, Kanak Chanpa, Murtaza Bashir have visited the school and were impressed to see such initiative and art related activities in a place so far away from the hubbub of big cities like Dhaka and Chittagong.
The Academy admits students mostly from the primary and secondary level schools. However, some college students have also been admitted for their enthusiasm and interest in art.
To enlarge the institution and create more classrooms for the students, Rati Kanta has submitted applications to the Minister of CHT Affairs Ministry and the Deputy Commissioner's office in Rangamati. At present, work for constructing the third floor is being done on the two-storied concrete building of the institution. Art exhibitions, songs and dances, instrumental recitals are among the regular activities of the school. Rati Kanta has earned the reputation of an adroit and popular organiser for juvenile activities. He is the first man to establish such an art school in CHT. Personally, he has received honours from various socio-cultural organisations and Govt. departments for his contribution to the society.
At first, Rati began the academy free of cost. Now he is compelled to realize a monthly fee of Tk. 100 from each student as he can't maintain management expenses. Some 13 teachers are teaching on the basis of a monthly honorarium of Tk 600 to Tk 1000 only.
Some teachers of the academy said that they didn't consider their work in the Academy as money earning jobs. "We are giving our services to see the smiling faces of all the small kids here. It is so rewarding to know that our little endeavour would in some way help these children grow up as a creative and happy future generation. We have accepted a monthly allowance to comply with the request of Rati Da." said the teachers.
“How can I run such a big institution without any financial assistance from the government?” Rati lamented to this writer. "I find it increasingly difficult to continue the work of the academy. I am deeply concerned about it. Neither any political leader, MP, Minister nor any government official has come forward till today”, he said. Rati also lamented saying that many students were going back frustrated as they could not get admission in the Academy due to lack of accommodation.
"I've become old now and am thinking about the future of the school in the coming days. I am planning to hand over the charge of it to an honest, active and dedicated person. I hope I'll find the right person soon. Once I proposed to the Chairman of Rangamati Hill District Dr. Manik Lal Dewan to take over charge of the Academy but he declined and jokingly said, "If I take charge of it, it will be dysfunctional from tomorrow'' Rati added. He, however, sincerely hopes that some one from those already involved with the Academy would soon take over the responsibility of Rangamati Charukala Academy and help it move for ward with more colour and brilliance.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006