THE TOWN AN ANGLO-INDIAN SCHOOL REVIVED.

It was on its way to being a ghost town, another relic of the Raj. But one school – an Anglo-Indian school, turned the fortunes of McCluskiegunj round. The road meanders up a hill like a thread.  From a distance it seems almost surreal – thin slash of grey breaching the layers of green.  Its eight in the morning and one will notice the beginning of hectic activity – students making their way steadily to the only Secondary English Medium Co-Educational School at McCluskiegunj – Don Bosco Academy.  This school is affiliated to the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, New Delhi to conduct the ICSE (Year-10) examinations.

The Academy is the focal point of this sylvan semi-hill station in Jharkhand’s Ranchi district and probably one of the few, if not only public school in the country in a tribal hamlet. McCluskiegunj prior to 1997 seemed like a deserted village. Militancy scarred McCluskiegunj had been experiencing an acceleration in the exodus since the eighties. Of over 150 Anglo-Indian families barely 30 have managed to cling on despite the ravages of time, politics and economy. The younger generation had flown the nest for greener pastures abroad a long time ago. Those who remained at McCluskiegunj had an average age between 55-80 years. Many also shifted to Calcutta and other metros, taking with them the flavours and nuances of an eclectic past. The town looked decrepit, pot-holed pathways and prolonged power cuts made it a tourist nightmare. Coupled with these the naxalite menace was just overbearing.

Mr. Alfred deRozario set up the Don Bosco Academy at McCluskiegunj and turned this hill station into a ‘HOSTEL TOWNSHIP’. Initially at least 15 Anglo – Indian households were converted into hostels – to lodge students studying at Don Bosco Academy. There are over 40 such home-hostels in existence today catering to the boarding and lodging of at least 700 students who are studying at Don Bosco Academy. The school caters to the children of those working in the Central Coal fields Limited mines in the area, and today also to children from other districts of Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. The decision to set up this school was also fueled by a desire to bind together the dissipating Anglo-Indian community in undivided Bihar’s last colonial OUTPOST.

The Don Bosco Academy at McCluskiegunj, Ranchi has single handedly given this village a new lease of life. The school has provided the foundation for all round economic and social development for this village and area. Besides providing education, this school has directly and indirectly provided employment opportunities, livelihoods for so many, local business/ enterprise has been revived and has begun to flourish and most of all the number of tourists and visitors to McCluskiegunj has shown a noticeable upward trend. McCluskiegunj now has its own Police Station. The Jharkhand Government has declared McCluskiegunj a Tourist Centre. McCluskiegunj also figures in the list of 550 towns short-listed by the Indian Tourism Ministry as “a Model Heritage Village’. This school has forged a semblance of unity among the old and the new as a number of youngsters are back for good. Some are teaching, others to help their parents to run and manage the home-hostels. There are at least 3-4 feeder schools also come up in and around McCluskiegunj, managed and run by Anglo-Indians. They groom toddlers and prepare them for admission to Don Bosco Academy. Today the very existence of business and services is directly linked to the continuity and success of the school. Over 900 children are today studying at Don Bosco Academy, McCluskiegunj from all over Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and also West Bengal.

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