It has been a week since six-year-old Ranjana joined Class 3 of the government primary school in Sector 93 and she has already started making new friends. She is thankful to ‘Abhay sir’ who tutored her at Protsahan coaching centre and got her enrolled in the school.
“I have a best friend in school, her name is Alka. Due to Abhay sir’s insistence, my parents got me admitted in school. I had joined his coaching centre a few months ago,” she says.
She then gets busy memorising the multiplication table of six with her tuition mates. They all study in a small compound in Chaudhary market, a community centre facing the plush apartments of Sector 93.
Ranjana is one among the 40 children of Geja village who have been admitted in different schools in the last three years under a campaign ‘Protsahan’ led by Abhay Singh.
Singh, a former chief general manager of a public sector bank in Lucknow, is now retired and stays in Sector 104. Three years ago, he started the coaching centre with a handful of school dropouts.
“In Geja village, a majority of the residents are either daily wagers or unskilled workers who were not in a position to provide their children education. I spoke to the parents of children who didn’t go to school or had dropped out due to some reason. I started teaching them in the evening, preparing them for school life so that they can be at par with other students,” says Singh.
Today, his tuition centre has more than a 100 underprivileged children studying in morning and evening for six days a week. The centre also has three teachers and four volunteers to help Singh with the children.
“It gives us satisfaction to teach the children and prepare them for school life,” a volunteer who didn’t want to be named said.
Along with tuitions, Protsahan centre also has a library with more than 500 books on literature, science, mathematics and other subjects.
“A majority of these books have been donated by charitable institutions and individuals. We also bought books in bulk from various trusts,” says Singh.
Singh, who is originally from Buxar in Bihar, shares his story behind opening the tuition centre.
“When I was in an interview committee to choose candidates for my bank, I met many meritorious and ambitious applicants who were talented, but lack of good schooling had affected their confidence. It was then that I decided to train underprivileged children after I retired so that they too could get equal opportunities,” says Singh.
Pawan Kumar, a class 9 student enrolled in a private school, finds Singh an ‘excellent’ mathematics teacher.
“I like studying mathematics from Abhay sir. The manner in which he teaches makes it easy for us to understand the basics. That is not possible in school,” he says.
Apart from preparing children for school enrolment, the teachers at Protsahan also coach them for scoring well in exams.
Chhaya Sharma, a Class 10 student enrolled in Baby Public School, joined the coaching centre recently.
“Studying in Protsahan is a fun-filled activity where you get to learn in an interactive manner. That is why I have also joined this centre. I want to score good marks in my board exams so that I can pursue science in Class 11,” Sharma says.