There is an urgency to educate slum kids says the Math teacher whose classroom is Delhi metro flyover.
Place, time, resources - nothing can stop you if you want to do something good for others. When it is the matter of education, none of these should become the barriers and none of them should stop you from receiving or providing knowledge. That's what a man from Uttarpradesh wants to prove to the world. Satyendra Pal wanted to teach the children from impoverished backgrounds who don't have access to smartphones and other digital devices to pursue their academics during the lockdown. He doesn't own a building for a school. But he thought that not having a dedicated building should neither stop him from providing knowledge nor those children from acquiring it. He went ahead and started conducting classes for the students.
When the picture of Satyendra Pal conducting classes for slum children went viral, people were awed looking at his classroom. He set a whiteboard under the Delhi metro flyover and started teaching children. This picture was shared by the Indian Forest Services officer Susanta Nanda on Twitter with a caption, "Ho Kahin bhi aag, lekin aag jalni chahiye which translates into English as "It doesn't matter where it burns, but keep this fire burning".
Not The First Time:
Satyendra Pal, a mathematics graduate from a village in Uttarpradesh, has never gone behind cushy jobs. He started teaching children of the slum since 2015. He never cared for a school building for he always thought that learning is important not the place. He thus started with taking classes under a tree with about a dozen children attending what he called Panchsheel Shikshan Sansthan. Later he shifted his classroom to a small hut with the help of people in the slum when the number of children increased to 300 by early 2020. "Most of the parents here are farmers and labourers, and no one has the time to drop and pick their children from school. I know the value of education, so I thought I can at least teach them the basics.
The little money these villagers give helps me pay my college fee and support myself. I cannot ask my parents for that", says Satyendra who comes from the same background. With the onset of lockdown, Pal stopped conducting classes keeping in view the safety of the students. But the parents requested him to restart the classes and thus he started again in July. Ensuring physical distancing, he limited the number of students and by taking all the necessary precautions, he resumed the classes. He takes two classes a day and teaches seven days a week. He teaches English, Maths and Science. Some charity organisations have provided masks and sanitisers to the children. While his parents often tell him that he could be earning better by working in another job, he replies saying, "I want to earn money, but if I focus on myself I will earn alone. If I help these kids, they will all earn with me," he said. Pal who was inspired to teach by his readings and faith in Buddhism, says that students are not required to pay for his classes. "I take whatever they give," he said.
An Aspirant's Dilemma:
Satyendra is preparing for the UPSC exams. Because of this, he sometimes feels anxious if he can continue teaching the kids. He however says that he will serve the slum children till he can.
When the thought is great, it deserves continuity of action and it surely would continue. We wish that Satyendra's school continues its legacy with a few of his students who learnt to read and write from him take its responsibility in future when Pal moves up his academic and career ladder. We are sure that he will not let this go easily.
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