Allahabad University hostel turns into classroom for poor children

October 8th, 2010 - 12:10 pm ICT by IANS  

By Asit Srivastava
Allahabad, Oct 8 (IANS) Carrying a sack on his shoulder, Bhola, 12, a ragpicker, enters the hostel of Allahabad University. He is there not to collect discarded items but to become literate under the guidance of a group of students there.

Students of the Hindu Hostel in Allahabad University have started a virtual school in their rooms for teaching poor children. Like Bhola, there are around 30 other impoverished children who visit the Hindu Hostel regularly to attend classes.

“We get a unique sense of satisfaction while teaching poor students. We are not doing any extraordinary job; it’s actually our social responsibility,” Pramod Sharma, a research scholar at the university, told IANS.

“Of the 30 children, some are involved in garbage collection while others sell vegetables and other items on the roadside to eke out a livelihood,” he added.

The hostellers teach the Hindi and English alphabets apart from mathematical calculations and also lay emphasis on moral teachings.

“These children come from extremely poor families, where there is no one to tell them about the importance of moral values. We want to inculcate moral values in them so that they could become good human beings,” said Amrendra Pratap, another inmate of the Hindu Hostel, who also teaches marginalised children.

The students usually teach the children three days a week. The classes start around 5 p.m. and continue for nearly two hours.

“We really enjoy coming here. After our classes get over, ‘bhaiyaas’ play with us different indoor games,” said Jeetu Kumar, 10, who lives in a nearby slum.

At present, 13 students, mostly research scholars staying in the Hindu Hostel, are involved in the noble exercise initiated by Sharma.

“I have always loved the company of kids, who make you forget all your worries. It all started five months back when I bought decorative hangings from some street children living in nearby slums.

“With regular interactions, I gradually developed a kind of bonding with them. It was then that I decided to teach them…I actually wanted to do something constructive for them and thought that education would be the best tool for that,” recalled Sharma.

These scholars generally prefer teaching in the gallery of their hostel, but on occasions when only a few children turn up, they don’t mind holding classes inside their rooms.

Nearly two months after Sharma began teaching, other hostellers also joined in.

“Besides teaching the students, we also provide them stationery items, toys and other gifts to keep their interest in education alive,” said another varsity student Dhananjay Yadav.

“We would be living in a totally different world if the students of other varsities also took up the job of teaching poor children. If it happens, we would in a real sense be fighting illiteracy,” he added.

Allahabad University, set up in 1887, offers some 50 courses to over 26,000 students.

(Asit Srivastava can be contacted at asit.s@ians.in)

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