June 2018, while traveling from Unnao to Rae Bareli for work, I met a few children begging for money on the train. A kid came to me, asking for money to buy food. I was hurt seeing begging bowls in the kid’s hands that should have otherwise been carrying pens and books at that age.
Days after the incident, I could not forget the kid who came to me for money. I thought deeply about how lending a few alms may not help kids like the ones on the train. So I decided to do something that had the potential to change the future of these children.
That was Rohit Kumar Yadav, a Government Railway Police (GRP) constable. Since then, he has been teaching underprivileged children for free in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh.
“Years ago, my father had opened a school in Etawah district to educate underprivileged children but had to shut it down due to family problems,” he shares.
“I thought if I was able to convince the parents of the kids then I could show them a better path, as my father would have wanted,” he says.
Rohit visited the kid’s families several times to make the parents understand the need for education. He says, “Most of the parents were not ready to send the children to school thinking that it would result in loss of earnings at home. Some were not ready to go through the admission process and pay money for admission as the parents do not earn much, to begin with.”
He adds, “I was not ready to let go of my dream. I thought of bringing the school to the children.”
In July 2018, the constable began teaching the students English, Hindi, and Math himself. Slowly, his new school gained popularity with the children of the area. And in a makeshift classroom that once housed to teach just five students near the railway track of the Unnao station, today has a total of 90 students.
‘Har Hath Mein Kalam’ – ‘A Pen in every Hand’
Seeing Rohit’s dedication to teaching the students in an open ground near the railway stations, several NGOs approached and helped him shift to the nearby rented accommodation. “Initially, I was the only teacher for these students. As I have night shifts at work, I go to teach the kids from 2.30 pm till 5.30 pm from Monday to Saturday,” says the railway constable.
Rohit reveals that at first, the kids had no particular ambition but now some of them want to become doctors, engineers, and government officials. Some are also interested in singing, dancing, and drawing.
Speaking about running the school, “My monthly take home salary is Rs 40,000 and I spend Rs 10,000 for the school, including the teacher’s salary,” shares Rohit.
By the end of 2019, owing to the help of the then-District Panchayati Raj Officer, Rohit managed to shift the classes to the Korari Panchayat Bahwan building. “At present, the school has two more teachers besides me. They help teach Science and Social Sciences,” he says and adds, “By God’s grace I am able to pay the salary of two teachers and buy books, pencils and all required materials to my children with my salary.”
“For me, my interest in running the school for kids is bigger than the stress of my work in the trains,” he concludes.
Source: The Better India