As India celebrates Teachers Day on Monday to mark the birth anniversary of India’s second President and Bharat Ratna Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, meet a teacher who runs a free ‘school’ under a bridge to educate students, who have dropped out or are unable to attend school for some reason.
Rajesh Kumar Sharma, 52, who hails from an adjacent state Uttar Pradesh, runs a free ‘school’ for Class one to eight under a flyover near Yamuna Bank Depot in Delhi. Sharma has been running this school from 2006 and caters to the students from the slum areas located near the Yamuna River.
While talking to IANS, Sharma said that at present, around 250 students, both boys and girls of nearby areas study in his free school. “When I started this in 2006, there were only two students. I used to read them under a tree, but now the number of students has increased to 250", Sharma said.
There are four volunteer teachers — Rajesh Kumar Sharma, Laxmi Chandra, Kanchan and Shyam Mehto — in the school presently and two shifts of classes are held from Monday to Saturday in the school. The first shift of class runs from 9.30 to 11 in the morning and the evening shift runs from 2 to 5.
“Now there are around 250 students — 150 girls in the morning shift and 100 boys in the afternoon shift. When I started, it was just me. But now there are four other teachers who teach on a voluntary basis," Sharma said.
Sharma, who comes from Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, has been an aspirant of engineering but due to the family conditions he couldn’t pursue his dream. He left his studies in 1995 and came to Delhi for livelihood.
Recalling his initial days of struggle, Sharma said, “I was aspiring for engineering which I couldn’t pursue because of the economical crisis. Even I left my bachelor degree in Science midway and came here for livelihood. However, I tried my hands on many things and even started a small grocery store initially. Along with my source of livelihood, I started teaching the children under a tree which has now become a school like."
“Apart from imparting education, we also take the students to the government school for their enrolment who want to study further. As we are not government registered, we help the students in getting enrolled in a government school with due documentation and other formalities and help in clearing the interviews.