Motivational Video
Vol 7 Issue 26, Jun 24 - 30, 2016
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Imparting the three R’s to kids in an informal way under the flyover

   By  Partho Burman
   New Delhi
26 Jun 2016
Posted 23-Feb-2015
Vol 6 Issue 8

Every 3 minutes a speeding Metrorail kicks up a din, but the children seated below the elevated tracks near the Yamuna Bank Metro Station in New Delhi carry on with their studies unperturbed. On the faces of the children one could see a steely resolve and determination to focus on their learning and not be distracted by the surroundings.

In fact, this informal ‘Under the Bridge School’ situated below the railway flyover is all about defying conventions.

Rajesh Kumar Sharma, a college dropout who runs a general store, teaches 200 children from poor families under a railway flyover

Located on railway land, the school has no building. Children sit on the ground on mats. There are few plastic and wooden chairs for the teachers, and a couple of steel trunk boxes for keeping the attendance registers and school records. Coats of black paint on the boundary wall make up the black boards.

The school’s founder, Rajesh Kumar Sharma, is a college dropout who owns a general store at Shakarpur, about 5 km from here.

Around 200 kids from nearby slums attend his school that functions from 9 am to 2 pm in two batches. The children are taught to read, write, and basics of English, Hindi, science, mathematics, history, and geography.

Though the school does not follow any fixed syllabus and has no government approval, it achieves the purpose of a school, imparting education and building the confidence level in the children.

Sharma started the school back in 2007 after seeing the condition of the children in the area.

He had first visited the place to catch a glimpse of the ongoing metro railway work, when the sight of the children who were not going to school and loitering around changed the course of his life.

Speaking to the parents of the children, who were mostly farmers and daily wagers, he realized they were poor and there was no school in the vicinity they could send their children to. He started the classes after the parents requested him to teach their children.

“The area used to be covered with undergrowth and bushes. I found a place to teach and started with just two children. In three months it took the shape of a full grown school.

Children study with great enthusiasm despite the lack of infrastructure

“I approached the principal of a municipal school at Shakarpur and invited him to visit our school. He visited us the next day and was surprised to see so many children attending my classes.

“He later made arrangements to admit 60 of our students at his school,” says 46-year-old Sharma, who had moved to Delhi from Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, in search of employment in 1995.

Sharma always encourages the children who attend his classes to join some nearby government school. Some children go to regular school in the afternoon after attending his classes.

Sharma could not complete his BSc degree from Aligarh University due to financial constraints in his family. His own inability to finish college became his inspiration to educate other poor children.

“Knowledge increases when it is shared,” he declares.

Since the school’s fifth anniversary last December, he introduced a sports session every Saturday for the students.

“People from different walks of life visit us on Saturdays and encourage the kids to play games like Kabbadi, Volleyball, Football, and Cricket. However, an hour’s study is mandatory,” says Sharma, who has around five volunteers to assist him now.

Anshul Gupta, a volunteer teacher, studying law at Amity University, teaches English and science at the open air school. “The students are lovely, enthusiastic, and keen to acquire knowledge,” she says.

IAS aspirant Umar Imam, another volunteer teacher, devotes 4 hours daily at the school. An IIT-Delhi graduate, he came to know about the school through a friend.

“It gives immense me satisfaction to teach these kids. Initially, I devoted 2 hours in 3 days, but now I stretched it to 4 hours daily,” he reveals.

Appreciating Sharma’s dedicated work since past five years, he says it would be so much better if the school gets some basic infrastructure.

Sharma with some of his wards

Sharma says they are badly in need of toilets, especially for grown up girls who attend the second batch from 12 noon to 2 pm. He has sought the help of the local Member of Parliament in this regard.

Metro authorities have extended their support. “They constructed the platform for the teachers to stand on and teach, and gave the coats of black paint on the wall to create five blackboards for our school,” he says.

There are few well-wishers who donate footwear and snacks for the children.

For Sharma, life does not end with the school. After 2 pm, he goes to the shop and relieves his younger brother and remains there till 10 in the night.

He has 2 sons and a daughter. His elder son, who is in class 11, often volunteers at his school as a teacher. His wife, who takes care of the home used to object to his work earlier, but has become supportive now.

Editor's Note: Rajesh Kumar Sharma can be reached at and on his Mobile at +91-9873445513

Print  |  Email  | 

You might also like:

Destination Space

Mankind’s quest for knowledge and exploration has landed us on the threshold of an odyssey to the outer space, which can be chosen as a tourism destination even now, says Ishan Raychaudhuri

Read More

A positive book

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s autobiography is nearing completion and it’s been tiled ‘Twenty years in a decade.’ According to the actor, "It's a fun book and is about positivity and hope.”

Read More

Stories on Innovations & Innovators
The Lead Star Digital Issue
adyar bakery
Mentoring Tamil Nadu

Popular Stories

Sworn benefactor

At the funeral of his brother in 1963, Deo Kumar Saraf swore not to let poverty-struck people die due to lack of medical care. Today, his Anandalok group of hospitals challenge corporate hospitals with their affordable charges, says G Singh

Read More

Nostalgic ride

A last vestige of colonial era, an antique train with wooden coaches still chugs on India’s only private railway line in Maharashtra. Narendra Kaushik traces the journey of Shakuntala Express

Read More

Flattening a myth

Dispelling the long held belief that flat-footed persons cannot excel in sports, Dipa Karmakar has become the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. Partho Burman tracks the bumpy road the Tripura athlete had travelled so far

Read More

River revival

Noyyal, the river that fed the fertile western Tamil Nadu, is today polluted and dry most of the time. To rejuvenate the dead Noyyal, Vanitha Mohan is on an eco-mission. P C Vinoj Kumar profiles her on the occasion of World Environment Day

Read More

Wigs of compassion

A cancer patient’s elation over the wig he had made for her changed Marishetty Kumar’s life.  The wigmaker who made wigs for actors now sells his creations for a discounted price to those who lose hair due to chemotherapy, says Usha Prasad

Read More

Water winner

The ups and downs of B M Balakrishna’s life are linked to water. Starting as a car washer, he went to sell water pumps and then founded a RO plant. S Sainath meets the owner of Rs 20 crore Aquapot that is set to double its turnover this year

Read More

Poor’s banker

The son of a poor sweet shop owner, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh today sweetens the lives of women in poverty stricken homes with loans. G Singh traces the incredibly phenomenal rise of the founder of Bandhan Bank that has Rs.12,500 crore deposit now

Read More

Chef Robot

A love for dosas led to two friends in college fabricate an automatic dosa maker that is making waves by enabling chefs roast the crispy dosas that they were earlier not able to make outside Tamil Nadu. Usha Prasad has the interesting story

Read More

Nursing small towns

After experiencing the trials and tribulations of people from small towns and villages in seeking medical facilities, Dinesh Batra vowed to take specialised health care to smaller places. Today he is living his dreams, says Narendra Kaushik

Read More

Fruity growth

From a poor fruit vendor’s son, who grew up eating jack fruit for snacks in an obscure Karnataka village, to owning a Rs 108 crore company making fruit flavoured ice creams in Mumbai, Srinivas Kamath has come a long way, says Somma Banerjjee

Read More
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend, 2010. All rights reserved.