The only school in Navi Mumbai, and possibly in the whole of Maharashtra, which is run from a police station, is helping in reducing juvenile crimes in the satellite city, say the police.
A year and a half ago, a group of volunteer teachers had been conducting the classes on roads, before the Nerul police offered their conference hall to them. At present, around 60 students from the city’s slums are attending the classes, which are held every afternoon from Monday to Saturday.
The children are taught Mathematics, Science, English and other subjects. The school has been named Ashakiran.
Prabhat Ranjan, police commissioner of Navi Mumbai, said, “These students belong to poor families. Had they not been shown the right path of life, many of them would have probably got into petty crimes like theft, pick-pocketing and chain snatching. We are happy that they are getting a good education through this school, and are far away from criminal activities.”
Sangeeta Alphonso, senior police inspector with the Nerul police station, said, “Around 10 students from the school appeared for the SSC exams this year. To our satisfaction, nine of them cleared the exams. Eight students secured above 60%.”
At present the school has around 30 voluntary teachers. A charitable trust provides food to the students on a regular basis.
Alphonso said, “It is a pleasant surprise to see highly educated homemakers voluntarily coming down to teach these students. They have been doing it because they think it their social responsibility.”
Apart from the regular subjects, the students are also given classes on yoga, computer skills, and dance. They also participate in various cultural programmes.
Recalling their initial days, Mousumi Mahapatra, one of the teachers with the school, said, “In the beginning, when we approached the parents, asking them to send their kids to the classes, they took us for kidnappers. It took us a long time to convince them that we had no other objective apart from educating the underprivileged children.”
“After getting a few students, we conducted the classes on pavements and under flyovers, among other places, for a few months. After Nerul police learnt about this, they offered us their conference hall in which to conduct the classes. We are really grateful to them,” Mahapatra said.
“We have divided the children into two categories- children who have never been to school, and school dropouts; and children who are going to school. Many children from the second category are going to school for the sake of going, but are virtually learning nothing. Therefore we decided to work for all-round development of these children,” said Aparna Rao, another teacher.