He fits the bill of a common man… a self-employed youth from a middle-class family. But the onerous task that he has taken on himself makes 30-year-old Sachin Soni uncommon.
And the tool for this youth — from the neighbouring National Capital Region town of Ghaziabad — is the information he seeks under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. For instance, thanks to his crusade with the help of RTI applications, children from as many as 143 of the 174 schools in the district, which earlier had only one teacher, now have at least two teachers.
Soni is a founder member of the non-governmental organisation Jan Jagruti Abhiyan, which works to promote the use of RTI.
“Health and education … these are the two basic things that can mar or improve your life. So I decided to focus of these facilities,” Soni, who works as a dealer in a second-hand sale-purchase unit for two-wheelers, told Hindustan Times.
A 2003 government order said schools under the basic education department should have a minimum of two and a maximum of three teachers. Of the 680 basic education schools in the district, there were 174 with a single teacher whereas there were 92 with four teachers.
Soni started with an RTI to find out the student-teacher ratio (September 2008), and also sought to know whose responsibility it was to ensure that this rule is followed (October 2008). Then, when the RTI reply came, he filed a complaint to the higher-ups (January 2009).
Of the 174 schools with just a teacher each, 143 now have two teachers.
But that is not all.
“Once this is taken care of fully, my next target will be middle schools,” Soni, who himself is only a Class XII pass, said.
His other pursuit, an RTI application about a quack, resulted in threats to his life. “When I filed the RTI, the officials did not just reply to me but also leaked my number. He (the quack) and some other person threatened me on the phone,” Soni said.
“But such things won’t stop me from my goal,” he added in the same breath.