This slum school gives hope to less privileged children

July 16th, 2008 - 11:05 am ICT by IANS  

By Nityanand Shukla
Ranchi, July 16 (IANS) A group of five people, including two illiterates, are running a school in a Muslim-dominated area here and transforming the lives of slum children by giving them hope of a better future. Around 150 students, mostly children of rickshaw pullers, daily wagers, electricians and small shopkeepers study in the Prerna Samaj Vikas Vidyalya situated in the Domtoli colony. The majority of the parents in the colony are illiterate.

Children who used to while away their time by playing on the roads or getting addicted to sniffing glue have now got a place to study.

The school is a brainchild of Mohammad Iqbal, Mohammad Eizaj, Sahid Aalam, Mohammad Irfan and Mohammad Javed, who have been successfully running it for the past three years.

“We were fed up with comments passed by people about our colony. People used to say that our colony was dirty and that its residents were illiterate,” said Mohammad Eizaj, the school’s head who earns a living as an electrician.

“Five of us got together and decided to change that perception. Education is the only means to change the lives of children,” he added.

When they decided to open the school, they faced problems like finding accommodation and teachers, as also in convincing parents of the need to send their children to school.

They didn’t let the problems bog them down and the accommodation issue was sorted out after Eizaj offered his own house to run the school.

They moved from door to door to persuade parents to send their children to the school. It started with just five students and the number has swelled to 150 in a span of three years.

The children are accommodated on the second floor of Eijaz’s house in four classes - Nursery, KG, Class I and Class II.

No fee is charged from the students, who are also provided free books and bags. The school has four teachers and their combined salary comes to around Rs.3,600 per month.

The million-dollar question that arises is how are the costs managed? The five friends work overtime to arrange the money required for running the school.

“We are illiterate but we do not want our next generation to be like us. We work overtime to arrange funds for the school,” Mohammad Iqbal, who is illiterate and an electrician.

“During day we earn for our family members and at night, we perform extra jobs that get us the money required for running the school,” he added.

The school has started showing results.

Class I student Gudia used the knowledge she gained in the class of the dangers of addiction and persuaded her father to give up smoking ganja (marijuana). Her mother’s earlier efforts had failed miserably.

“One day I asked my father: Who would look after us after you die consuming ganja. My father immediately quit,” Gudia said proudly.

The school now plans to provide uniforms to its students and is scouting around for funds.

“We have got some contributions but we need a lot more. Uniforms will give the students confidence that they are like students of any other school and can compete with them,” Eizaj pointed out.

Saraswati, who teaches at the school, said: “We have been able to inculcate a sense of discipline among the children and changed the mindsets of their parents. Now parents ask their children to study even at home.

“I found some of the students to be very talented. Given the right opportunities, there is no reason why they cannot become doctors or engineers,” Saraswati added.

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