On the outside, it's a nondescript stationary shop. But a few parents in Indirapuram (Ghaziabad) know that there's a lot more to this place than just stationary.
It outsources project work assigned by schools.
Yes, you heard it right.
Parked in Shipra Society’s central market, the store is the parents' means to rid themselves of homework blues. Projects are taken care of here if you're willing to shell out a few hundred rupees.
Every vacation break, several enterprising housewives and schoolteachers come to the rescue of parents bogged down with holiday homework. The unassuming shop is just one among several in the National Capital Region through which they meet the need of parents.
Chanda Saxena (35), who works with a multinational company, is one such parent who has been forced to resort to outsourcing some of her son’s homework every year.
“My kid has to complete a Mathematics project in which he has to prepare a chart, two models and a report demonstrating the use of multiplication during a visit to the candy store. The school has completely gone overboard in name of innovation,” said Saxena.
Her child is seven years old and a Class II student of a school in Noida.
“Last year, I had to take a week off from work to help him finish his homework. I have no choice but to outsource it to a neighbourhood homework aunty. I usually spend anywhere between Rs 250 to Rs 300 on it every vacation,” she added.
Parents, especially working parents, can spend anything between Rs 200 to Rs 1,000 for project that has been outsourced. The higher the class is, the more expensive the project rates.
This reporter approached the stationary shop in Shipra Society’s central market pretending to be a parent distressed by her (fictitious) five-year-old child’s project work. The reporter was told that the project (model of an oasis) would be made by a biology teacher for about Rs 250 and would be handed over in week's time.
“These people are very clued in and have made a business out of it because working parents anyway get such little time to spend with their children. They don’t want to spend vacation also doing their child’s homework,” said Farha Khan, whose child studies at a school in East Delhi.
This summer vacation, Khan is looking forward to an exciting holiday in Goa with her husband and children. All thanks to the neigbourhood 'homework aunty'.
(Names have been changed to protect the identity of students and parents)