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Jump to navigation. The red-light area in the narrow dingy Sethbagan Lane, off the busy, congested Chitpur Road in north Calcutta, is always in a state of noisy confusion. Not the ideal location for a school. But occasionally, rising above the cacophony, is the excited chatter of a few dozen children, reciting nursery rhymes.
A school is obviously in progress, the fruit of a unique initiative aimed at giving a new life to the children of prostitutes.
Amar Pathshala, the primary school in Sethbagan, has been a pathbreaking institution in many ways. Its immediate surroundings are hardly conducive to learning yet it has evoked an enthusiastic response. Started in but still functioning out of make-shift classrooms, the children's mothers are women who service the local rickshaw wallahs and porters. They view the school as their only hope for a better future.
The success of Amar Pathshala has had an encouraging ripple effect. More voluntary organisations are extending education to the children of red-light areas.
The Society for Community Development has started a home-cum-school for prostitutes' children at Ranaghat in the city's suburbs. And Jana Siksha Prachar Kendra, sponsors of Amar Pathshala, have just started another school-this time in Sona-gachi, the city's biggest flesh trade area.