Feature: Bridge School offers Free Education to India’s Poor Children

Article updated 16 July 2014 – Scroll down to see what happened after these images were shared around the world…

ND01Quite a while ago, we came across a photograph of a free school in New Delhi, which offered free education to some of India’s poor children. The striking feature of the photo was where it was placed; being situated under a bridge, with chalk boards being painted on a building for the aide of the pupils.

Initially reported by NBC News, the school was set up by Rajesh Kumar Sharma, with at least 30 children attending each day. The 42 year old father of three works in a general store in Shakarpur, but for two hours each day his brother covers for him so he can teach the children. Speaking to the Indian Express, Sharma told of his motivation,

“Whenever I passed by this area, I would notice that children were spending all their time in the fields or playing around.”

Parents wanted their children to work instead of going to school as they would add to the family income. He argued with the parents and persuaded many of them. Sharma starts with the basics and goes on to prepare the children for admission to government schools. He started with approximately 140 students, and 70 of them are in government schools now. “They still come here everyday. I manage to keep them ahead of the school curriculum,” Sharma says with pride.

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Sharma even allows students too young for school to sit in the class as he believes this would inspire them. He is assisted by a tuition teacher, Laxmi Chandra, a postgraduate who teaches science. “I don’t take attendance. They love coming here because there are no school-like boundaries. In fact, I want to keep it like that,” he says. Most of his students only have notebooks which he gets with the help of social workers who visit him occasionally. Those who get books from their schools pass them on to younger students.

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Sharma says his achievement is the change in attitude of the parents who now encourage their children to study.

“They understand that if children in the villages in the interiors of the country can go to schools, why not in the national capital.”

(Story continues after photograph)

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There are many teaching points you can use with this story and photos:

  • Contrasting schools;
  • pupil attitudes;
  • poverty;
  • determination;
  • making a difference;
  • population diversity;
  • making sacrifices;
  • the journey to school;

plus many more. Explore more photos below and via Huffington Post.

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Story and Images thanks to: NBC News & Indian Express. Images by Altaf Qadri / AP.

UPDATED: 16 July 2014


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