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A student who is the headmaster of a village school in West Bengal

Kavita Kanan Chandra | Mumbai 03 Aug 2012, Vol 3 Issue 31

As a nine-year-old, Babar Ali started teaching kids in his village who never went to school. That was way back in 2002. There was no school at Babar’s village Bhapta Uttar Para in Murshidabad district of West Bengal.

He was one of the few children in the village, who had the privilege of studying at the nearest school that was located ten kilometers away. His father Mohammad Nasiruddin, a jute seller, though not really affluent, was keen that his son should be educated.

Babar wants to start more schools in places where there are not any

For Babar, who used to play with the village kids pretending to be school teacher and teaching them stuff he learned at school, the idea of running a real school took shape in his tender mind.

In 2002, he started the ‘school’ in his backyard with just eight students. He would take classes for them after returning from school. The school was named ‘Anand Shiksha Niketan’ and it started growing each year. Today it has strength of about 800 students.

“We have classes up to tenth standard,” says Babar. The school is registered with the State government and students studying here are eligible for admission in any state government recognized school for higher studies.

The school has some student volunteers as teachers. Babar’s sister, who is in class XII, also teaches in the school. Though the state government provides free books up to class V, the school is sustained by private donations and assistance from local administration. “The students bring old cement sacks and sit on the floor in the open,” says Babar.

Though his school is open to members of all communities, it was a difficult task to convince Muslim families to send their daughters to school. The area has a large Muslim population.

“I used to go to neighbouring villages and speak to the parents to send their girls to school,” says Babar. His effort yielded results. Today, students come to the school from ten neighbouring villages, girls outnumber boys, and majority of students are from Muslim community.

“There was a time when certain people would create problems to discourage me from running my school,” said Babar.

It was the encouraging words from his parents who told him his good work would certainly receive support from the local administration that helped him to stay the course.

Babar with other teachers and staff

True to their words, he received support from kind-hearted officials. Jiban Krishna Sadhukhan , ex-joint secretary of West Bengal, and Sabuj Baran Sarkar, additional district magistrate, Purulia, had been his constant support. He was also felicitated by the then West Bengal Chief Minister Budhhadeb Bhattacharya.

Babar has dreams to work all over the country for education and open schools at places where there are not any.
 

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