ON Teacher’s Day, nostalgia hits us and takes us back to school and college days. In between the laughs and learning, we remember the teachers who have probably played the most influential part in our growing years. Often it’s their voice in our head, telling us right from wrong. Today, we celebrate them, their effort and their passion for education.
But unfortunately, not all have had the privilege (yes, privilege) of studying in schools and colleges and learning from teachers. Education, a basic right, still remains a luxury for marginalised communities across India. 8.4 crore children in India don’t attend school and about 78 lakh others are forced to earn a livelihood during their school years.
We are happy to report that a few unlikely teachers have stepped up to empower some of these children through education.
Last month, Ahmedabad Traffic Police made headlines for their initiative, Police Pathshala, which they started more than year ago in the city. Through this, they have been providing free education to around 200 children living on the streets who end up doing odd jobs to earn a living.
At present, they have three centres in the Pakwan area traffic chowki, Danilimda traffic police chowki, and Kankaria police chowki and they are aiming to expand soon.
“We wanted to bring change in the lives of these kids. Kids living on footpaths often get involved in criminal activities so we thought to educate them for a better life,” Traffic DCP Ankit Patel told ANI.
He also said that the plan is to enrol the children in schools once they gain basic knowledge.
Police Patshala is one of many such inspiring initiatives. In 2017, Nalanda superintendent of police (SP) Kumar Ashish launched a special drive called Chalo Pathshala (Go to School) under which police speak to parents of street children and encourage them to send their children to government schools.
“Apart from my official assignment, I visit these schools during weekends and teach the students,” Ashish told The Telegraph. “A similar exercise will be carried out by my subordinates. It hurts to see any child moving around aimlessly on the streets. So I decided to launch a project for such underprivileged kids.”
About a decade before Ashish started this project, Nishant Kumar Tiwary, a 2005-batch IPS officer, started Shaam ki Paathshala (Evening School) in Bihar’s Purnea district where he was the SP.
Two years ago, the railway wing of the Delhi Police started an ‘open basic education programme’, in collaboration with Chetna, an NGO working towards empowering street children.
Under the initiative, the cops started a school for street children at the Nizamuddin railway police station. Minors found at railway stations are vulnerable and often get involved in drugs and small crimes. To ensure their safety and bring a positive change in their lives, the police opened the school with about 60 youngsters who were ragpickers around the station.
Maneesha Bhatia, a volunteer at the school told Hindustan Times: “Our objective is to rescue trafficked children, rehabilitate those who are away from their home and prevent them from becoming victims of drug abuse.”
Such heart-warming initiatives remind us that teachers come in all forms, and even those not necessarily found inside conventional classrooms should be lauded.
This Teacher’s Day as you celebrate your favourite teacher, let’s also appreciate the unlikely teachers who are changing so many young lives.
-by Aisiri Amin