Tribute to a teacher who saw the future TNN | Feb 4, 2014 KOLKATA:
Sri Aurobindo Institute of Art and Culture on Sunday celebrated the birth anniversary of Joya Mitter, founder-principal of The Future Foundation School (TFFS) and a silent crusader of social educational reforms.
Joya di, as she was known, started from a humble background and shook off the shackles of a conservative family to create institutions that have stood the test of time. An ardent devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, she pledged her jewellery to build Galerie La Mere, one of the few private art galleries in Kolkata, in 1995. It was her foresight that led TFFS to set up one of the first school computer labs in the city in the early 1990s. She also set up a printing press for underprivileged women.
"She was a multi-faceted personality, far ahead of her times," said TFFS principal Ranjan Mitter. "Her parents did not want her to study but she persevered and completed her education. She went ahead to do her graduation and BEd after marriage, got a degree from Government Art College and also a gold medal from Gitabitan."
Joya di was an inspiration to thousands of students, encouraging them to discover their talents and make their own path, say teachers and students. Singing sensation Monali Thakur, this year's Filmfare Award winner, is one her proteges. "Joya di is always an inspiration," Monali, a TFFS alumnus, said.
"What she thought back then is considered new-age education today. She created a platform for children to bloom," remembers Krishnokoli Mukherjee, head-senior school, TFFS. The school got ICSE affiliation, thanks to Joya di's 'personal touch'. "Joya di invited chief minister Jyoti Basu, made kochuri herself, and over a warm meal gently convinced Jyoti Babu why TFFS needed ICSE affiliation rather than Madhyamik," said Mitter.
Her futuristic outlook continues to inspire the institutions she created. TFFS is the only school in Kolkata that has French as second language, right from Class I. "Even when she was terminally ill in end-1998, she wrote to me saying, 'we are on the threshold of a new millennium. Let's make plans to take the school to the future'," said Shikha Guha, principal of Arun Nursery School.
Sri Aurobindo was a very strong influence on her life. "She identified 10 sites related to him and persuaded KMC to set up marble plaques to mark them. She also found the case files of the Alipore bombing case in a forgotten trunk in a dust-covered storeroom of Alipore court, along with judge P L Dutta. Much of what we know about Sri Aurobindo today is thanks to her," said Mitter. Joya di - pioneer soul-spirit - Sri Aurobindo Institute of Culture Joya Mitter dedicated all she was and all she had - her life as her death - at the feet of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. 2nd Feb 2013 - Joya di's 77th Birth Anniversary
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